St andrews

Open Secrets

Finding new angles on the Old Course

In the line for ice cream last night, the kid in front of us was telling his buddy how he and his dad were flying to Scotland tomorrow, and it nearly spoiled my dessert. “Going to the British Open. Should be cool.” His friend stared back at him blankly, then ordered a bowl of cookie dough.

Golf Twitter hasn’t helped. I feel forsaken, a stranded leftover watching the rest of golf float over to St. Andrews for the 150th playing of the event I revere more than any other. I’ve taken solace in the money I’m saving, the short walk to my couch, and the stack of Golfer’s Journals beside said couch where I can visit the Dunvegan or the Old or the Himalayas putting course if I flip to the right page.

We’ve made it even easier for you here, curating our best St. Andrews storytelling to haste ye back to Scotland. Whether you’re on a plane to Edinburgh or researching ingredients for an at-home Full Scottish (don’t forget the brown sauce), you can still find yourself walking down to the Old in the evening with Herbert Warren Wind, or playing the holes in reverse as they did in Old Tom’s day, or, in “Spinning Yarns” you can learn some dos and definitely-don’ts for they day you do get over there.

As you watch the Old Course this week via cameras unable to capture its subtleties and quiet genius, you may wonder, what makes this flattish, brownish place so special? A new TGJ offering from J.D. Wills, “The Old Course is Overrated,” will prove that you’re not alone. It may also prove that you’re wrong, but no matter. May the shots this week be memorable, and if they’re not, here are some stories to remind us that it’s never just about the shots anyway.

This is the origin of the game, golf in its purest form, and it’s still played that way on a course seemingly untouched by time. Every time I play here, it reminds me that this is still a game.

Arnold Palmer