Old Course, New Course, Red Course, Blue: How To Save The Old Course At St. Andrews
Some of us are linear thinkers, while others are balloon-grabbers. The linear thinkers trace every line and connect all the dots. Balloon-grabbers respond to whatever stimulus or balloon floats by, and complete that particular task. As COO of Balloon-Grabbers International, ideas tend to circle my head with alarming regularity. One of those ideas that recently occurred to me was a way to make the Old Course at St. Andrews less popular.
Why do people want to play the Old Course? History, you say. Remember that the Old Course, like most of written and oral history, is a good guess at best. Did golf originate there, or in Scotland at all? Who knows. The history that matters is major championships, that every great player except Hogan crossed the 18 holes and 18 tees. The holes are exceptional, no doubt, but great holes exist on the New and Jubilee courses, and doubtless will on the seventh course, currently under construction.
The Old Course is the one everyone asks for when making plans. There are no ballots for the other courses, no waiting in lines, no nervousness on the first tee or the 18th fairway. Travel guides and marketers undercut each other and hog the tee times available on the auld lady. There has to be a better way, a resolution, a rescue.
My plan is a simple one: play an Open Championship on one of the other courses. When Tiger hits this shot, or Monty flubs that one, every one of us will want to play this or that shot, to say that we hit or flubbed the same one as did the greats. When you see a vista from one of the other courses on television, you’ll want to mount that dune yourself, to view it in three dimensions.
I cannot predict if this strategy will emasculate the Old Course. Perhaps the new rota could go Old-New-Old-Jubilee-Old-Seventh. That would certainly keep the Old in the rota with regularity, yet not subject it to constant scrutiny, updating, and wear and tear.
Another cool thing: we’ll find out the names of all the holes and bunkers of the other courses at the Royal and Ancient. Hopefully they’re as mysterious and beguiling as those of the Old Course..
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Playing the Old Course is a magical experience, so unique that I can't even explain it. The New Course will never hold the Open Championship because of the history, but it's definitely worth a go.