St. Andrews is my favorite city in the world and has been since the first time I visited here in 1986.
St. Andrews a city of God and golf, as I will explain over the next few days.
Today, the focus was on golf but not to the exclusion of God.
St. Andrews is the home of Golf and home to the most famous golf course in the world, The Old Course. The Old Course is difficult to play unless one calls well in advance and we did not.
But a certain number of spots become available each day for walk-ons through the booking process, and to that are added those spots that become available because of late cancellations. One never knows how many spots will be become available on any given day, so people begin lining up (“queuing up” as they say here) very early in the morning, sometimes the night before, at the door of the Pavilion next to the first tee.
We were hoping to play together in the early afternoon but were told that was unlikely given the random nature of the openings, and there was a very good chance we would not play at all.
When we told our concierge the situation he told us not to worry. He said he had a system. He had a feel for how many open spots there were each day, and his assistant on the night shift at our hotel would station himself in the window of the hotel’s restaurant overlooking the 18th fairway with a pair of night vision goggles.
Yes, night vision goggles. Those of you who play golf and understand the seriousness of being able to play at the first, the oldest, and the most famous golf course in the world see no incongruity here. That an able Scotsman would use technology designed by top scientists to be used in defending one’s country to gain entrance onto The Old Course seems about right.
Anyway, our concierge told us his assistant using his night vision goggles would keep track on how many people enter the queue. When the number approached the estimated total available spots for that day, he would call our rooms to alert us to get dressed, and go across to the Pavillion to get in line. That way we would not have to rise at a ridiculous hour to grab a spot to play the hallowed links.
The calls came at 3:55 the next morning.
Dr. H and I quickly dressed and met across the 18th fairway at the Pavillion. We stood in line for three hours and by the grace of our soveriegn God not only made it on to The Old Course but got two spots in the same group at 1:30 p.m.
I could go into details about our next four hours on The Old Course, but some experiences are so sacred that to discuss them is to profane them.
Until tomorrow. GS