By Garrett Johnston
The Old Course at St. Andrews along with its iconic R&A Clubhouse, the unmistakable Swilcan Bridge, and the overall theater created along the adjacent first and 18th fairways steals the show each and every time this venue gets to host an Open Championship.
This momentous week is no different. The course itself is front and center. On some evenings this week–especially Sunday–fans from around the world could casually stroll that eighteenth fairway, snap selfies on the Swilcan Bridge, and essentially capture their own history on this iconic course that we’ve all watched on television for years.
One of the best parts of the week so far has been seeing the eclectic mix of fans, players, broadcasters, influencers and more just all walking casually along the main street that runs behind the R&A clubhouse.
Locals are playing bagpipes at all hours on the street, there’s a ladies group in 50s tartan attire crooning to their visitors as well. But as you walk that road, you can’t help but realize that the beauty of it is the feeling that we’re all equals and all just giddy to be there, strolling around the Home of Golf.
One moment you see Paul Casey paling around with a couple of golf fans and laughing on the street then you’ll see Mike Tirico walk into the American favorite pub the Dunvegan Hotel for a pint with the locals and fans. Augusta National’s chairman Fred Ridley walked down the street with his wife on Friday afternoon and the biggest leader in golf’s major championships wasn’t even noticed by the hundreds of fans and locals walking by.
It makes sense though, they didn’t recognize him because they were in their own world-soaking in their own life moments getting ready to walk the Old Course, to see Tiger Woods in a major, looking for a shop to buy a few souvenirs so they could tell their friends ‘I was there!’
On Saturday morning after the cut was made, a number of caddies walked that main street as well to get their St. Andrews fix if they were off that day, or they’d be walking to work that day and walk down toward the road next to the beach-close to where the driving range and players lockers are.
These include Tommy Fleetwood’s caddie Ian Finnis who was on a FaceTime with family as well as Bones Mackay who was getting ready to loop for Justin Thomas in his third round.
Golf Channel instructor Martin Hall got dropped off by the R&A clubhouse via a taxi earlier in the week and had an ear-to-ear grin as he set foot in the town. Golf Channel host Rich Lerner walked the main street Wednesday night en route to a party.
The Old Course is a busy place this week, but so are the streets of St. Andrews.
Garrett Johnston, a former Northern California resident, is a golf journalist who’s covered over 30 major championships. He hosts the Beyond the Clubhouse Podcast with players, caddies, and broadcasters and you can listen to it here: