Our initial visit plan had us flying from Dublin to Glasgow, and driving our rental car to Aberdeen on the Northeastern coast, to meet Mrs Bear’s family before taking a he ferry to the Shetland Islands. The trouble ( and our fortune) was that the ferry did not operate on our Sunday arrival. This gave us a free day which we used to spend the night in St Andrews, the home of golf.
We had been here once before and dined at the Old Course Hotel, which is adjacent to the course on the 17th fairway, the infamous “Road Hole,” perhaps the most famous hole of in golf. Mrs Bear asserted that we should lodge there. I said, “ no way!!” As surely this Mecca for golfers would have fewer openings than the inns of Bethlehem during the tax census times. But I called to let my wife know I tried, and **!!*!, they had a room for us !!! This is why you always marry someone smarter than yourself…I would never have called.
In another positive turn, the Old Course was hosting a two day tournament for the top amateurs of the continent. I walked over to speak to the starter about playing the Eden Course the next morning, and then walked the hallowed golf ground, watching players who could actually hit shots the way the game us meant to be played.
I was told that it would be possible to play the St Andrews Eden Course, one of the six courses in the complex, if I arrived and teed off before 0700, when the locals took over. I made it to the course at 0630 and began a “Best of Times, “ round.
The above photo shows my birdie putt on the first hole (which of course I missed). The Eden course is named for the Eden Estuary that borders the course, not because it is a piece of heaven… I started out early in sunshine and slight winds, but had to manage the breezes by the turn. Still, this was one of my finest days on a golf course…playing a 100 year old design with the spirit of Old Tom Morris whispering to me as my playing companion.
Sorry to you readers out there who don’t understand or care about golf. I am simply conveying the passion for one of my true loves of life. I would compare it to a world historian visiting the Roman Forum, or an Italian American making a pilgrimage to his ancestors’ homeland. All too quickly, it was over and we drove north to Aberdeen.