Your weekly Broken Tee Society recap includes a dispatch from Lac La Belle, treatises on Irish golf and world music, and a wee golf tournament in Scotland.
Bump&Run is the weekly recap of our members-only Discord server. Haven’t joined our server yet? Do so here: glfrsj.nl/BTSconnect
opening the vault
With 358 entries, our Open Championship pool ranks as the largest such contest in BTS history. After a fireworks festival of a final round, Allie Enix escaped with the glory and the grand prize.
Your podium, including payouts made in TGJ cash:
Allison Enix (@AParTEE): $150
Sam de Castro Aberger (@PlayItAgainSam): $100
Jeremy Freeman (@GolfBallGallery): $50
the prince who was promised
Note: A break from our regularly scheduled BTS content for a few words on the 150th Open Championship.
Rory McIlroy is not Scottish. But if you tuned in to more than five minutes of this week’s Open Championship, played out and back across a spit of land in eastern Scotland that rightfully claims its place as the spiritual and historical home of golf, you’d have been forgiven for assuming that his family had been operating a beloved St Andrews street corner chippy for six generations.
The energy of the pulsating pro-Rory crowd crackled through the Old Course on Sunday, the power of its partisanship reaching across the world and into living rooms from Belfast to Boston. Rory, still only 33, has been the face of Irish golf for decades. His ascent was promised during a childhood talk show appearance, chipping balls into a washing machine that looked like it came off the set of Leave it to Beaver. Twenty years on, he’s added the rest of the British Isles and the golf-mad nations of Europe to his gym-sculpted shoulders, that support driven as much by his consistent human vulnerability as his sometimes incandescent golf and sterling Ryder Cup record.
Adding fuel to the fire (pun intended): Rory’s unshakeable anti-LIV stance, even as his peers and foils and adversaries have run off to the desert to swim in piles of oily cash. As MBS drops bag after bag on brand-name golfers, Rory continues to demonstrate loyalty to the Tour he’s played for years, and the state of the game that got him to where he is today.
So, at this sesquicentennial Open, played at golf’s holiest ground, with Rory standing firm in the press tent and bouncing confidently down the fairways, everything felt set for a storybook ending.
“It’s just one of those days where I played a really controlled round of golf,” Rory intoned on Sunday evening. “I did what I felt like I needed to just apart from capitalizing on the easier holes around the turn.”
Controlled. Proper. Mistake-free. All apt descriptors of Rory’s bogey-free 2-under 70. McIlroy avoided the blowup that had doomed so many major quests over the past eight years. He dissected this ancient golf course, keeping it in second gear, his TaylorMade happily skipping past death bunkers and finding the fat parts of these obese putting surfaces.
The only problem? A turbocharged Aussie made the turn for home, shifted into fifth, and sailed past Rory as if he was standing still.
In a sport that takes upwards of five hours to complete, Cam Smith’s game engenders descriptors like “sizzling” and “electric.” You’ll see his string of five consecutive birdies from the 10th through 14th holes on Sunday described as a “charge” or that he was “running downhill.”
In truth, as we know, golf is slow. It’s plodding. It’s patient. The time between the shots, walking along the firm turf from one divot to the next, often matters nearly as much as the actual strike of the ball.
Rory is one of the most thoughtful and introspective golfers to achieve his level of success. One wonders what was running through his mind as he hit each of The Old’s greens in regulation, then two-putted each in succession, while Cam Smith filled cup after cup just one group ahead of him. Could he feel this landmark opportunity slipping away? As he burned edges and left putts dead in the heart, did the weight of history start to settle upon him like the ancient stones in the buildings of this age-old town?
Smith led Rory on a merry chase back into town, the Aussie holding the gas pedal to the floor and widening the gap with each successive birdie. And after another birdie try went begging at the Road, and a last-gasp chip sailed long, Rory took home another meaningless top 5, while another up-and-coming superstar collected his first major championship.
Smith’s demeanor does not match his game. There are no histrionics after birdies, only a mounting sense of self-belief. It seems as if he expects to shoot 54 each time out. He deserves immense credit for his round, and his tournament, especially as he was playing the role of spoiler for perhaps the most romantic finish in the history of the game. When Smith hit his tee ball on 18 to within a few feet of the green, the silence was deafening. When Rory hit his 15 minutes later, it sounded like the town exploded.
As Smith made the microphone rounds after the tournament, all dazed smiles and muttering “unreal” and (admittedly classy) gratitude towards the grounds staff and fans, one could only imagine the pubs of St Andrews swiftly filling up. If Rory could have put a few more circles on the card? That shared fairway between 1 and 18 might still have revelers dancing across its hallowed surface.
Rory McIlroy is not Scottish. Cam Smith is not the enemy. But at a golf tournament that often doubled as a morality play and whose outcome will reverberate for as long as golf is played, the prince who was promised left one too many chinks in his gleaming suit of armor.
Words by Robbie Vogel
Photos by Christian Hafer
An Open at St Andrews is not to be missed, and this special 150th edition marked one of the game’s true milestones. So it shouldn’t be surprising that Broken Tee Society members descended from all corners of the globe onto the Auld Grey Toon. Our DMV Vice Captain Carlos Marroquin caught up with a fan early in the week.
Kyle Exsted checks in from 18 (top), and shows off his photography chops (above). “Today felt like a dream!” – Brian Cox The prodigal son returns—Ian Birrell reports from high above the home hole. “Highly recommend the stands by 8 tee 7/10 green…good action and got a great breeze off the water yesterday.” – Jason Galbraith And last but absolutely not least, we have John Moore’s view of the first hole on Sunday. John snagged a last-minute ticket from a fellow BTS member and drove the 320 miles from his home in England to St Andrews for the day!
Can’t get enough Old Course? Explore our TOC capsule, featuring a Yardage Book on the course’s reverse routing, a visit with the St Andrews Ladies Putting Club, and much more.
New angles on The Old Course
LAC LA BELLE of the ball
Golf was played stateside last week as well, and the attendees at our Outing @ Lac La Belle can attest to the vibe and charm at this Wisconsin gem. Photos of the day, and night, from attendee and lensman Dylan Bloch.
A comprehensive breakdown of the best that our Discord server had to offer this week:
- Conner’s Make-a-Wish: Member Julian Capata shares the incredible story of his son’s Disney World/Universal Studios adventure.
- A musical masterwork: Ash Levitt breaks down Ben Rector’s Dirty Groove playlist in detail, then launches a return salvo of his own.
- Irish golf in depth: Our Ireland channel popped off this week, offering a full-scale breakdown of Ireland’s finest links courses. Pondering a trip overseas after this Open? Dive in here.
- Landmand sellout: King-Collins’s newest creation, Landmand GC in Nebraska, sold out its first tee times in a matter of moments.
- Park Mammoth: Looper Lou Johnson checks in from Park Mammoth, a new playground in Cave City, Kentucky.