This post from Liam Frean is the second in the Living as a Links Golfer section of the site. The section will grow as Liam lives the life of a student golfer in St Andrews, Scotland!
Summer has hit St Andrews with all its force. Never did I expect Scotland to be such an amazing and breathtaking place. Over the last month I have been spoilt with the Scottish views, the weather that has been perfect, and the excitement of great events coming to St Andrews. One cannot help but be filled with anticipation as the chance of finishing studying and enjoying the summer vibes grows nearer.
The Open Championship has arrived at St Andrews with the grand stands going up on the right of the 1st hole, making you feel like a pro when you tee off on the 1st and the 18th. The slightly narrower fairway due to the stands actually makes the hole easier and encourages you to be more aggressive. This is especially true when the millions of people crossing Granny Clark’s Wynd (the road across the 18th and 1st holes) never stop to check if golfers are teeing off. It has also brought another dynamic to the Old Course: with more people coming to the town as it becomes tourist season, there is always a crowd watching you tee off or finish the last few holes, which always adds pressure. The course itself is in great condition with the greens getting faster every week and the course getting firmer, making the links more difficult, requiring more imagination when it comes to getting the ball to stay on the greens.
Not only is the Old Course changing but the town itself is gearing up for the tourist season. Walking down Market Street during the Easter holidays was extremely difficult with hundreds of tourists, golfers and students all competing for space in the little town. It was easy to spot the different groups: the golfers all being well dressed ready to hit the links, school children loitering around the fountain eating ice cream even though it is only 12 degrees (54F), and students becoming exceptionally frustrated with the tourists walking exceptionally slow in front of them. There is a buzz around the town, with some conflict in what people want from the St. Andrews, but while dancing in the local pubs, everyone forgets the tension and enjoys their night. Some of the stag dos (bachelor parties) also spice up the nights out in town… This is especially true when you see some gentlemen with an arm handcuffed to the wall and drinks strapped to their free hand!
There is only one way I can describe the current feeling in St. Andrews. In my native South Africa, on the South Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal, you are at great risk of catching “South Coast fever”. This fever is different to those that you have had before. It is a fever where you are so relaxed that the only thing that you feel you are able to do is drink beer and play golf. It’s probably the best possible feeling one can have even, despite the lack of productivity. St Andrews is developing its own fever: one which includes the excitement of the 2015 Open Championship, the weather beginning to take a turn for the better, a never ending desire to hit the links, and a summer filled with new experiences and opportunities to learn.