Tuesday night was a chance to explore St. Andrews in smaller groups. Wednesday saw five of us play the Old Course -- John Brauer and David Whelchel through the ballot and Tripp Trotter, Tim Pratt, and me through the waitlist.
This was the first day the Old Course required playing off mats from shots in the fairway. Given the slow/no growth until spring, this is felt to be the best way to ensure the best playing conditions through the winter and into the early spring.
The maintenance crew starts the painstaking process of filling upwards of 40,000 fairway divots during the month of November. Read more about the process here.
During breakfast one morning I also saw the regular morning divoting crew from the window of the Rusacks Hotel. Naturally I jumped up from the table and went outside for a closer look. Divoting takes about 2-3 hours on the Old Course and the crew is careful to stay ahead of play and out of sight.
Above, the divoting crew getting started at The Old Course. Below, two members of the divot crew.
The rest of the group made the short walk to the clubhouse for the Jubilee and New Courses. Most had played the Jubilee on Saturday or Monday so the goal was to play the New Course, which has limited walk on tee times.
Above, Jeff Hemphill, Bob Kamp, Rich Struss and Kevin Frank ready to tee off on the New Course. Below, Tim Pratt (l) and Butch Sheffield [r] at the clubhouse serving the New and Jubilee courses. Note the trolley friendly steps which may be found in many places around St. Andrews Links.
I recall my first visit to St. Andrews and tour of the facilities from Gordon Moir. When I saw the irrigation lines going from the pump station to the various courses I asked Gordon, "How old is the New Course?" "1895" was his reply... sort of puts golf in the States in its proper historical perspective.
Mainlines heading out to the various courses at St. Andrews Links.
The weather held up and I counted rain on just three holes that day, further evidence that we had hit the weather lottery on this trip.
Before dinner Andy Campbell had the entire group to the St. Andrews Golf Club for drinks and a presentation from Steve Isaac, Director of Sustainability for the R&A. We enjoyed his presentation on sustainability efforts throughout the golf business (including how they source their vendors/partners for The Open Championship and other events). We certainly savored the atmosphere of the historic golf club, which was established in 1843.
Steve Isaac of the R&A addresses the group.
Wednesday night was our last night in St. Andrews so that meant packing up, doing a final round of shopping, and enjoying the town one final time. The next morning we would take a short ride to Crail Golf Club and continue on to Edinburgh for our final two nights together in Scotland.