I need to make a correction to what I posted day before yesterday about the 18th hole at St. Andrews Links. I've been looking online at an interactive map of The Old Course. On Day 1, the 18th hole may have been where it was the day that I stood on the green. In fact, according to that map, it's been in three different places during the first three days of The Open, in front of the grandstand and likely to be visible in the first and last photos in that post, if I were standing there today.Still and all, the day that I was there, the hole was where I stood. Brian, a new friend on the tour, took this photo for me--thanks, Brian!
Lovely, yes, it's a lovely golf course. I can't think of a better word to describe the soft rolling, firm surface. I stopped on my way to the flag and took this photo, in awe of where I stood and what I saw. I wanted to lean over and pat it, as if I were patting a favorite dog.
I don't play golf, but I thoroughly enjoy watching it on television and have done so for many years. The first golf course I experienced in person was the one in Starkville, Mississippi, back when I was a student at Mississippi State University, 1966, fall, through 1969, spring. I had a great friend from Australia back then--Hugh played on the tennis team and worked towards his undergraduate degree. He also ran cross country. Somehow I decided that I should run, just for the heck of it. So, one time after I had been doing it for a while so as not to totally embarrass myself, I joined him in running the golf course. Only one time during that outing did I get yelled at by golfers, "Fore!" as I trotted across the fairway. I doubt it was an errant shot that alarmed them into yelling--it was me, an errant runner.
Anyway, I have no memory of how the surface felt other an appreciating the cut grass. Before that I had been running on a rutted dirt path cut by vehicles across some cleared area among the wooded acreage another friend's family lived on outside of Starkville. Robbie's family welcomed me whenever I showed up, including his German shepherd whose name I hope I correctly remember as Festus. Festus ran with me, often veering off the path and through everything that grew, including poison ivy. He liked to stand by me and lean on my outer calf so that I could pat him and scratch behind his ears. I ended up with a big patch of poison ivy there. I didn't care; I adored that big guy!
I'm standing with my back to where the huge grandstand now stands so that many people have a splendid view from on high of the 18th green and the hole. You can see the flag pole in this photo that also gives you an idea of the expanse of this part of St. Andrews Links. The tee area is to the right of this photo.
I'm a happy photographer, to get the chance to share these photos with y'all. Thanks! And I'm very happy for the golfers to get in the third round today as they anticipate the Monday finish. But, I'm even happier for everyone who cares for this beautiful course, who realize that without that good care, this tournament would be a very different event.