The day I was blown away by St Andrews

Metaphorically and literally!

AP's picture
Alex Perry
Wed, 1 May 2013

The day I was blown away by St Andrews
Golf’s most famous clubhouse

Watching my childhood hero Nick Faldo at the Open Championship in 1990 was my earliest memory of St Andrews and its famous Old Course.

I’d sit and listen to my grandfathers relive their own favourite memories of golf’s oldest major; from Sam Snead to Bobby Locke, Jack Nicklaus to Seve Ballesteros.

Even as a wide-eyed seven-year-old, I knew there was something special about the place. For the next 23 years I wanted nothing more as a keen golfer than to sample the Home of Golf. On April 22, 2013, that dream became a reality. And I’m going to attempt to put it into words.  

I arrived in St Andrews at around 5pm on a balmy Sunday afternoon and checked in to my hotel – a pleasant B&B just off Golf Place. “I love that it’s called Golf Place,” I told the receptionist.

“Aye,” came the reply, “golf is quite a big thing around these parts.”

Struggling to work out if she was being sarcastic or not, I quickly changed the subject. “I’m meeting some friends at the Himalayas,” I said, prompting some brief directions from her.

But I missed her response, too busy chuckling to myself. I mean, where else in the world can you ask for directions to the Himalayas without sounding like a lunatic? (Well, Nepal, I guess…)

I headed out onto Golf Place and wandered toward the instantly recognisable Royal & Ancient clubhouse. I stood and gawped for a few moments before I dared get closer, where the landscape rather dramatically opens up introduces the breathtaking views down across the fairway shared by the first and 18th holes.

I spotted my colleagues, Sky Sports scribe Matt Cooper and National Club Golfer’s Mark Townsend, down at the Himalayas, but I delayed joining them for a few minutes.

The clubhouse, Hamilton Hall, the caddie shack, Tom Morris’s shop. I’d seen them all a million times on television and in photographs – but nothing does any of them justice more than being there in person.

These few minutes of my life are something of a blur, such is how taken aback I was, but I recall being surprised by just how close the beach is to the first tee – something you don’t often see on the television due to grandstands blocking the view.

I scurried on and caught up with the others, where we took on the marvellous undulating putting surface – an absolute must visit if you’re in the town.

That evening we sampled some of St Andrew’s finest pubs. Fantastic food in the best company I could ask for, but it was a mere formality. Tomorrow, the Old Course would welcome me into her loving arms. And then attempt to beat ten bells out of me.

But did Alex even make it to the first tee? Click here to find out…