The Unfinished Game – Day four in Scotland

2013-07-17 17.24.01Wednesday morning came bright and early. We’d decided to try our hand at getting to the distillery we’d gotten information about from The Whiskey Experience so we headed down to try and find the bus stop for this once an hour transport. We weren’t having much luck. By the time we thought we’d found it and it was supposed to arrive, we’d actually decided on a different plan altogether.

See, today was Jennifer’s dad’s birthday and him being a golfer and us being so close, relatively speaking, to St. Andrews, we figured a trip to the home of golf would be a little more fun.

A quick stop at tourist information and we had bus and train schedules and a rough plan. Seriously, when you’re in a new place, look for the magic “i” of the tourist information center. These people really know their stuff, plus there’s free maps and discount books for local attractions. So with a schedule in our pocket we headed out to catch the bus for St. Andrews.

The ride out was fairly uneventful (except for trying to catch the first bus, only to be told that the bus coming 20 minutes later would get us in 30 minutes earlier – never let it be said Scottish bus drivers aren’t helpful and friendly!) and we were dropped off right near the center of town. What I didn’t realize at the time was that St. Andrews is the name of the town and the course is named for that. Now, were I a fervent Royal Watcher, I would have known that William and Kate had actually met at St. Andrews University here and that would have certainly cleared up any potential embarrassment.

We stopped for a nice lunch at The Doll’s House and then headed off to explore the town. Our first stop was the ruins of DSC_0056the St. Andrews Cathedral. It was a beautiful ruin, combined with a well kept cemetery. In the middle of it all was large bell tower which could be climbed. Problem was that in order to climb you needed a coin from the admission gate. Before I could get a coin, though, a kid walked up and offered me one. I don’t DSC_0068know why. but I took it and made my way up top. Jennifer had decided the climb up the Scott Monument was enough for her when it came to narrow staircases so I was flying solo. From up top, the view was spectacular. You could see the water and almost the whole of the town. I didn’t stay up long, though. There was too much still left to see and do.

Jennifer and I met back up and continued our tour around the shore line, passing more ruins and a house where the occupants had placed a bench with a stuffed duck on their yard and invited passers-by to “take a rest.” What a friendly place! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur final stop, before hitting the greens themselves, was the British Golf Museum. We didn’t actually take the tour, but we were able to grab some birthday gifts before heading into the St. Andrews Links.

Our first stop was the clubhouse to record a birthday greeting then it was off to see the Old Course. St. Andrews Links has several course, but the most prestigious is “the Old Course.” To get a tee time on the Old Course, though, is an interesting proposition. The basic way is a lottery, held two days before your desired tee-time. You can also book for the following year when the course opens reservations in September. The other 6 courses can be booked regularly but it’s not cheap in any case.

Now, though, here we were, walking The Links, and someone was asking if we wanted to hit a few balls. Naturally, we said yes. To be fair, it was a charity tournament on the Himalaya putt putt course, but still… for 2 pounds to play St. Andrews can’t be beat! Since we were only a two ball pair, we were teamed up with a father and son team who lived in Aberdeen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur day couldn’t have worked out better. Cameron and his father were a great pairing and we had a blast. There were no windmills or drawbridges to get past, but there were some outrageous hills and twice we had to cross the tarmac pathway. Both Jennifer and I proved our lack of ability by really nailing the distance on some of our putts. At one point, Cameron pointed out he’d never “heard anyone yell ‘fore’ on a putt putt course before.” Jennifer also spawned a new twitter hashtag (#toomuchphysics).

In the end, we had to cut out after the 13th hole so we could catch the last bus back to town, leaving our St. Andrews round as “The Unfinished Game.” That said, I still have my scorecard and yes, you bet when I’m talking to golfing friends, I will casually throw in a comment about “that time I played St. Andrews.” I also inadvertently ended up with my ball from the round, which has since found a good home.

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