Why St. Andrews rocks the house on the five-year plan
Some of my colleagues on the Travel Golf blog circuit have put down the grey lady of golf as out of step, touch, and even time! The ball goes too far, the tribulations of the fairways and greens are closer to clouds and ocean waves than they are to a proper surface for major championship golf.
Ain’t no way, say I. What other course names its bunkers in a such a retro-cool way? Ever travel on the metro in Europe? They name all their stations and stops for famous and not-so-famous people, places and incidents. In fact, one of the most-traveled routes in America is named for a guy (I think it’s a guy?) about whom little is known: Irlo Bronson. You want to get to Disney in Orlando? You’ll probably end up on 192-the Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway. The origins of Sutherland, Coffins, Principal’s Nose, Beardies, Kruger, Cheape’s, Kitchen, Shell, Strath, Stroke, Hell, and Road may be more or less recognized than Mr. Bronson, but one thing is undeniable: their very echo adds to the essence of the place. Tell someone to take the Bronson and you’re sure to arrive. Tell someone how you got up and down from the Road on #17, and you’ll be fawned over.
The Old Course is currently on the five-year plan with the R and A. 1995, 2000, 2005, perhaps, 2010. This rotation keeps her in the public eye, yet avoids over-exposure to the viewers, and over-familiarity to the players. They used to play Pinehurst #2 every year on the PGA Tour; now that it is a treat to visit at US Open time, the challenge is greater. We value the traveling handicap much more than the player who posts low scores on the same course, round after round. In the same way do professionals and top amateurs appreciate a stop at the classics.
Once you’ve played upon her, you realize that she is like a friend from all stages of your life: she grows a bit every year, matures, but her beauty and consequence are in her eyes: unnamable, untouchable, yet undeniably present. I cannot help you in your quest to play the course. If you go, play the New or the Jubilee as points of comparison. You’ll then know why the Old matters so. If you never go (as I have not yet visited Augusta), place your trust in those who have, and believe what they write about the
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