Any and every return to the Home of Golf is special, but this year also marks the 150th Open in history. And with that, the fourth and final major of the season is upon us. St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland is the coolest city in golf, and the Old Course, the Grand Old Lady is an iconic heritage site. There’s an incredible energy vortex around 18 green, and almost surreal the first time you are there. This links course became an 18-hole layout in 1764, thus setting the standard for the game.
The Old Course is teeming with idiosyncrasies — it is composed of a million little ridges and hollows, and on any given day a different one will make it hard to get the ball close to the hole. There’s not a tree on the course, but we have windswept foliage, and undulating greens shaped by nature instead of being manicured by humans. This is why links golf is called the purest form of golf as it keeps a connection with the way the game originated in Scotland in the 15th century. 3-time Open Champion Tiger Woods who has won twice at St. Andrews mentions what sets this classical links course apart —
“You play one type of golf in the United States, where basically everything is airborne. The ground is never your friend. You're always trying to carry bunkers, carry water, place it on top of shelves, and make it stop. It's just how high can you hit it?' Then once you get around the greens it's just, 'Here, give me my lob wedge. Give me my lob wedge. Give me my lob wedge.' Hack out of the rough. That kind of stuff. It's always the same shots. When you play links golf, it's not.”
It's all about figuring out how to control the ball in the air to be able to control it on the ground. And that's the hardest part. If you draw a ball a little bit it's obviously going kick more forward. If you cut it in there, it's going to kick a certain way. If you hit it high, it's going to do something else. If you hit it even lower, will it do that? No, because there's a bank there and so you will have to throw the ball up. But the greats do find a way as the indomitable Woods did in 2005, winning his second Claret Jug by shooting a −14 to win by 5 strokes. Refresh your memory here of how he made it look easy which it most certainly isn’t.
There are more than 110 bunkers at the Old Lady and many of them are named for their difficulty, shape, or notoriety — like Kitchen, Cottage, the Seven Sisters, and Hell, as well as the Principal’s Nose and Spectacles. A bunker one day will look harmless and useless, but on the very next with just a little change in wind direction, its presence becomes ominous. Then there's the Hell bunker – which is some 300 square yards and 10 feet deep and forces players to make a choice on the Old Course’s longest hole at 14 (618 yards, par 5). The fifth hole O'Cross (Out) is the only other par 5. Of course, we can’t forget one of the hardest holes ever – the Road Hole at the 17th (495 yards, par 4)
Nice shot out of the Road Hole bunker by Luke Donald pic.twitter.com/YpF8Vo2DeO— Michael Shamburger (@mshamburger1) July 16, 2015
Holes 8 and 11 are par 3, and the other 14 are all par 4s - which include Dyke, Cartgate, Ginger Beer, Heathery, High, End, Bobby Jones, and Tom Morris.
Length 7305 yards
Course Record 61; Ross Fisher (2017)
This year, Collin Marikawa will swing from Hole 1 (Burn) as the defending champion. Other favorites include Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Shane Lowry, Cameron Smith, Will Zalatoris, Dustin Johnson, Tony Finau, and Tommy Fleetwood. We are keen to find out who eventually holds aloft the claret jug on Sunday. Maybe it could be someone out of blue, with nothing to lose, having the rounds of his life. Here’s looking forward to a cracking week!
Please Note: Blue Tees Golf is having an extended July the Fourth Sale, which you can cash into. You can get the Series 3 Max as low as $199. And all other rangefinders and bundles are an additional $20 off. Please note that the limit is 1 per customer.