Scottish Diary | 20 May 2017

Relaxing day at the Auchnascraw Mill was great but it was time to explore some more hidden gems of Scotland. Our next stop was the home of golf, St. Andrews.

St. Andrews lies on the east coast of Scotland, 50 km northeast of Edinburgh. It’s a charming city with the oldest University in Scotland and the third oldest university in the English-speaking world. Around the 15th century (the same time that the University of St Andrews was founded) the first mentioning of golf can be found. The story goes that game of golf originates from sheep shepherds who were shortening their time with swinging small rocks with their shepherd’s sticks. At the beginning, golf was played with wooden clubs and balls were stuffed with ducks feather. Blacksmiths who were playing golf started to make clubs from steel. Today, clubs are made from different types of metal or carbon fiber.

For centuries people enjoy in playing golf at THE home of golf as St. Andrews is also called. The most popular course is The Old Course which is one of the oldest golf courses in the world. In 1457 James II of Scotland banned golf because he felt that young men were playing too much golf instead of practicing their archery. The golf was not permitted to play for 50 years. Another interesting thing about The Old Course is that it’s closed on Sundays. On Sundays, the course turns into a park for all the townspeople who come out to stroll, picnic and otherwise enjoy the grounds. This is very unlikely for golf courses so if you are in St. Andrews on Sunday grab the opportunity and enjoy in soft grass and views to the ocean. Because The Old Course is spectacular. It lies by the ocean and is quite narrow. Due to a small area of the course, only four holes have their own green. All other holes share greens. And another fun fact: all the little hills on the course are natural, none of them is made artificially for making the game more difficult of interesting.

St. Andrews have seven courses in total and all of are public courses, which means everybody can play. Only The Old Course has a minimum handicap requirement: 24 for men and 36 for ladies. But it is very busy. Still, if you feel lucky and want to play The Old Course without reserving a tee time one year in advance you can try entering the lottery or ballot which is drawn two days ahead of the play. Other courses on St. Andrews are beautiful as well. Before Marko’s injury, he thought that he would play golf with his father on Eden Course. He made all the reservations prior to our trip but unfortunately, he was unable to play. At least his father did. The Scottish weather did not spare him and rain was there to accompany his game. Nevertheless, he was ecstatic to play at St. Andrews. This place was one of our highlights of Scotland trip despite the rain. And I believe Marko will be back one day to reach the goal for what was the reason of our Scottish trip in the first place – to play golf at St. Andrews.