St Andrews: Doon Memory Lane

Visited St Andrew’s today and it was amazing. The place was hoaching wi tourists and the winter afternoon sunlight made it just beautiful. And it brought back many memories, because like many Scots, I’ve been coming to St Andrews on days trips since forever. We walked onto the Old Course (the Home of Golf) at the 17th road hole then took photos at the 700 year old Swilken Bridge. Well, an Italian tourist took our photos. He looked frozen the puir wee soul.

In 1984 I was at The Open to watch Seve lift the claret jug. I stood in the huge crowds at the 17th green, looking down the 18th to see Seve hole that winning putt. From 400 yards away I saw the famous fist pumping celebration, a full second later the roar from the stands hit me. History right there.

Today it’s just tourists, couples mostly, walking across the fairway. We walk down the 18th, Elaine glancing over her shoulders for golfers teeing aff. Rusacks hotel on our right, stayed there with dad in 1981 mebbes it was, went round old course in 80, birdied the 18th. Did it 3 years before Seve managed it!

Walk past the 18th green, up the steps and past the Royal and Ancient clubhouse(posh gits). In 1990 when Elaine was working at the Craws Nest in Anstruther, 4 of us visited St Andrews,played putting next to the 18th. Cider had been taken and as we all ran down a steep grassy embankment to reach the putting green, Elaine fell and, we later discovered, broke her arm. But cider is a wonderful thing. The putting was a laugh until Scotty missed a tiddler, blamed his putter and skelped the ball off the wee starters hut. Well the guy was oot like a shot, raging. We ran away laughing, across the 18th green, jumped the fence and up into toon. Yes, we ran across the sacred 18th green, where Seve holed that putt, where Jack Nicklaus won in ’78.

The Americans must think its incredible how the locals can walk their dog across the Old Course. Cars can drive across the 18th fairway. I imagine in the US, their courses are very private. No dogs that’s for sure. So for Americans it must be very odd. I love it tho – we’ve no airs or graces. So you’ve paid £195 to play the Old Course? Well just wait til I scoop ma dugs shite up before you tee off, eh! Oh and watch out for steaming youths running across the 18th green.

We wander across to look along the beach where they filmed Chariots of Fire. Its hoaching with tourists and locals despite the cold wind. We took the lads here in 2012: they were u15s then. We got red polo shirts especially and I can still see them, a mile away on this beach playing beach volleyball, a tiny swarm of red ants. Dont think they went in the sea tho, the North Sea is Baltic ! Throughout my childhood all visits to St Andrews involved paddling but no swimming. No chance!

It’s getting dark as we walk back down the 18th fairway, the sky turning pink over the buildings that surround the 18th green. A final look back at the famous view and it’s in the car, get the heating on am freezing!

PS In researching this blog, I was amazed to discover that the day before Seve won the open on 22 July 1984, I was at Status Quos ‘final farewell’ gig at Milton Keynes Bowl. I got the overnight train back up to Scotland then got train and bus to St Andrews. That would kill me nowadays!

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