The magic and allure of St. Andrews burst through the television screen today as brilliant sunshine and late day shadows revealed the intriguing and beguiling contours of this great links course. With the HD technology of today’s TV’s and the perfect conditions in St. Andrews, Scotland the golf course was a three dimensional masterpiece. The crazy quilt of hills, valleys, knolls, gorse, pits, ridges and massive greens were on display in America courtesy of the Golf Channel’s live coverage of the Dunhill tourney.
The amazing design of St. Andrews was especially apparent on the inward nine, where the cloudless sky and low sun angle gave unusual insights into the use of the natural terrain, but often with bold and unforgiving results. On the short 11th, the difficulty of the long green with a tricky spine bifurcating the surface provided clues as to such state side greens as 8th and 16th at Oakmont or the 6th hole at National or the 7th hole at Chicago Golf Club. We all know that C.B. MacDonald, Alister Mackenzie, Donald Ross and almost all other Golden Age designers drew from Old Tom Morris and St. Andrews, but rarely does a television golf viewer get to witness the essence of this inspiration. At the 12th, a mere 348 yard four, the tricky approach to the green and the steep false front bedeviled and frustrated the pros. The blind second to the 13th was never more cloaked in mystery than when Thongchai Jaidee was hitting into apparent oblivion. This theme was repeated on the remaining home holes and it was mesmerizing. The Road Hole was beyond treacherous as the stomach churning tee shot was only upstaged by the impossibly hard, fast and ridiculously sloping green. The pin was tucked behind the bunker and the Village Road loomed as though a fast moving stream was the boundary.
High angle and aerial views were breathtaking. The beach was hundreds of yards long and the surfers paddled patiently awaiting an appropriate wave. The home of the Royal & Ancient was simply magnificent. In the matter of a few hours, St. Andrews belonged to the American television viewer to discover and delight in the links golf. St. Andrews remains the place where golf course design begins, and in many ways, ends.