I have been fortunate enough to play The Old Course many times. It runs, like a the logo on a stick of rock, through my golfing life. Not with the same importance or emotional attachment as some other courses – Carluke -North Berwick -Fulford Heath – Muirfield but still an important marker.
First time was as a cocky teenager, well into single figures, and the last time was August last year. The most special occasion was in July 2005 on the Monday after that year’s championship finished there. Tigers second open and tenth major. We were allowed to play from the same tees and with the same pin positions as the last round. Extraordinary. Lucky to be invited and a fantastic treat. But, and it sounds ungrateful somehow, I have never been totally sure how I rate it as a golf course.
In the ranking section of the blog it is no 1 of all the courses I have played since I began this Odyssey. Above Loch Lomond, Turnberry and Silloth on Solway. I haven’t done the detailed review on the Old Course yet as I want to see how the best players in the world (ex Rory) play it this week before I finally opine. But! But! I have a few questions.
- If The Old Course is the one true test does that means that all the other Open venues are lesser examinations – a bit like a GCSE in media studies. Can that be right?
- Is the Old Course the best golf course in the world? I am tempted to paraphrase John Lennon when he was asked if Ringo Starr was the best drummer in the world. The Old Course is probably not the best golf course in St Andrews as a golf course. The New is a better track in my opinion. But what the Old Course has is history. Layers and layers of history. It has history in the same quantities as Glastonbury has mud or rock festivals in Scotland have midges. And that weight of history brushes aside any doubts about how good a course it is. The history trumps every other consideration I guess.So I will leave my final analysis until next week and content myself with trying to pick some good value bets for this week in consultation with my sons. So far we have discussed Coetzee Willet Fisher Fleetwood Warren Donaldson Olesen All can start well and can be birdie machines before fading!!! So bet and lay if they start like sprinters in the St Ledger.