Scots on the Rocks: The British Open, St. Andrews

The world’s most famous golf tournament begins Thursday in Scotland on the same historic links course where the game was supposedly born six centuries ago. Back in 1873, the first British Open was staged. The ball was smaller. The clubs had wooden shafts. There were no players named “Tiger�? or “Vijay�?. Jack Nicklaus wasn’t playing his final Open. But the Old St. Andrews course was worshipped just as much by the world’s greatest players and gallery.

Like Carmel’s Pebble Beach, St. Andrews is at the mercy of the weather and wind. It can play like a Putt-Putt course or horrific. In fact, The Open Championship Official Website says: “Exposed to the elements from all points of the compass, the world’s most famous golf course can switch from benign to beastial in a matter of minutes.�?

My friend, Stan Ziegler, had some friends who actually flew to St. Andrews from California a few years ago to play. Avid golfers, they’d played together for decades and always promised they’d get to Scotland. They partied on the flight. They partied late into the night they arrived. Then, they had a few more. The next am, after a few Bloody Marys to settle their nerves, they had an early tee time at the heralded course.

When one of them stepped up to the first tee, he apologized to the Scottish caddy that they’d been partying pretty hard, so he asked for his 4 Wood for his first swing. His caddy squinted at him and was aghast, “Ah, you sorry Yanks plan this trip for years, spend thousands of dollars to fly halfway around the world to the birthplace of golf, and you can’t even be a man and pull out your bloody driver! Ah you piece of ***! You’re like every other tourist! Hit the bloody driver, man, hit the bloody driver!�? Now, intimidated as well as hungover, the golfer accepted the driver on the first tee. And he followed every suggestion the caddy offered that day. True story!!

Anyway, to watch the 134th British Open, check your local ABC TV listings this Thursday through Sunday. Or visit

2 Responses to Scots on the Rocks: The British Open, St. Andrews

  1. Since we are talking about St. Andrews Golf Course, do you know who the most famous golfer to ever play the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland? No, it wasn’t Tiger Woods. It was probably Mary, Queen of Scots. Yes, according to historical fact, she was the first woman golfer. What would she have thought of today’s golf scene?
    To find out how the old and the new might have meshed, check out the award winning timetravel, Par for the Course, by Janet Elaine Smith, where a modern-day golf pro from Paris (Texas, no less!) hooks up with Mary, who has just returned to Scotland from Paris (France, of course!).
    Par for the Course was chosen by Affaire de Coeur Magazine as “best timetravel of 2003” and it was given a RIO Award of Excellence in March, 2005. You will never view a game of golf the same way again!
    To read an excerpt and to order, go to

  2. Gil Zeimer says:

    Janet: Thanks very much for your comment about the Old Course, Mary Queen of Scots and your book. The excerpt makes for very interesting reading. You must be a Texan and I lived in Dallas for four years, so I understand what you say about trying to lose the accent!

    Have you ever read two of my favorite golf books? One is “Fast Greens” by Turk Pipkin, about two oilmen playing a grudge match ( The other is a novel about Ben Hogan and a kid in San Francisco who meets him years after Hogan had died… a great time travel book you would like. It was called “Follow The Wind”:
    Best regards,

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