Tuesday, July 13, 2010

St. Andrews and the Open

"St. Andrews by the Northern Sea,
That is a haunted town to me!"
Andrew  Lang

Every five years, the tiny university town of St. Andrews, Scotland is transformed into the greatest golf show on earth when it hosts the British Open, or "the Open" as the Brits fondly call it. But what else would you expect of the "home of golf" located on the isolated shores of the East Neuk of the kingdom of Fife.

I was fortunate enough to spend two and a half years at the University of St. Andrews where I studied  the Victorian novel and escaped with an M.Phil. And what a great town, and a great time that was! St. Andrews is the third oldest University in Britain, behind Oxford and Cambridge, and the oldest in Scotland. Nothing about St. Andrews disappointed, except perhaps the drab weather, and endless stream of brussel sprouts that adorn almost every dish.  But who's complaining. I got a great education!

St. Andrews is such an interesting place because there is so much of important Scottish history wrapped up in the town, and it reeks of history, and significance. There is the University and students to this day, wear bright red gowns to class, or black if you are studying divinity. St. Andrews was also the ecclesiatical capital of Scotland, and the ruins of what once was a magnificent cathedral remind you of this proud past. The town is also linked with the father of the Scottish Reformation, John Knox, who was once imprisoned there.

And then of course there is golf. St. Andrews, the "home" of golf, is the place where the sport began, and where many a player come and dream of playing and winning golf's most famous tourament. Ironically the American golfer, Arnold Palmer, rescued the Open from obscurity, helping to shape it into what it is today. Palmer encouraged other golfers to take the trip and over time the tourament grew in popularity. One of my fondest St. Andrews memories, was of the Open of 1984. It's the only golfing major I've ever attended, and I recall bright sunny weather, colors and golf stands both near and far. On the last day, a group of us were lucky enough to be sitting at the 17th hole where the eventual winner, Seve Ballesteros was able to make some magical shots to win the prized Claret Jug.

This week, the Open is again being hosted at St. Andrews. Each time it is, I love to sit back and remember the old town, and University once more. I can't wait to see what the Old Course and Chapel look like once again.

No comments:

Post a Comment