This post from Liam Frean is the fifth 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!
The Open hit like a Tsunami, and I’m not talking about the weather on the Friday. I am currently recovering from the excitement on a flight to Dubai with my girlfriend holding a glass of champagne as I celebrate my 19th birthday. The week, although having been extremely disjointed, has been a really fun one. I feel the only way to tell you about what the Open had to offer for me is by talking about what I did in the run up and during the Open.
The two weeks before the Open I was lucky enough to take part in the Fife Men’s Championship. My girlfriend, Anna, had attended numerous range sessions before this, to her credit, however I have a feeling a lot of her attendance was to do with the dog of the owners called Monty. Little does she know its named after a famous golfer, with her hate for the sport it might make her like the dog a little less, but she came and watched without failure. The practice showed off with my irons being in top form but I had misplaced my practice efforts, with my putting letting me down. I am sure everyone is aware of the pain that comes with having a 5-foot putt for birdie and walking off with a double bogey. Looking back on it my putter was close to a heart breaking end, or more of a shaft-breaking end, but I knew I needed mine intact unlike Robert Streb.
The week of the Open was reasonably quiet at the start with Market Street being more than bearable; that would change very quickly. The Open didn’t really start for me until the Wednesday when I had to go pick up a visiting friend called George. It was great to have a chance to catch up with George and hearing about his success as he tries to make it in the extremely competitive world of professional golf was encouraging.
Thursday was a slow start, but we left at about eleven to go to the golf. We had the amazing chance to follow Fowler, Rose and Faldo. Even though it wasn’t the best day for them, we saw some great shots. The seeming lack of effort they put into hitting the golf ball while still managing to hit it absolute miles right down the middle of the fairway was irritating. It was obvious Faldo hadn’t been playing much, but the class and ability of the man was still obvious, with the look on his face showing he still wanted to give the young ones a run for their money. The day was amazing fun with a nice dinner to finish it off.
The Friday morning the Scottish weather kicked in with its full force and we got what I was later told is referred to as “liquid sunshine.” I think the only way it could bring the same happiness as sunshine is if you could have a swim in the puddles on the 18th fairway, which didn’t look like much of a stretch at one point. I took George around the town and showed his some of the history that the place is built on. It was strange watching someone experience St Andrews for the first time and it served as a reminder about how lucky I am to live in such an amazing place. After we had showed him all the stunning buildings on The Scores it was time to watch some golf. Heading to catch a glimpse of Tom Watson and Tiger as they finished their rounds, it was joked that it would probably be Tiger’s last time at St Andrews as well as Tom’s. Watching Tiger was a great experience even if he wasn’t at his best, you knew that you were standing next to a man that had changed the sport completely.
Waking up slightly hungover on Saturday meant a good Scottish fry up was the first thing on the plan for the day. While in the kitchen I saw trees in the garden being thrown around all over the place, so went straight to switch on the golf. I was greeted by the sight of Louis Oosthuizen’s ball being pushed away from the hole by the wind. George and I headed down to the golf at about 1 to be told that there wouldn’t be any play until 5. We decided to make our way around the golf village that was there and then claim a seat on the 17th tee, which also looked onto the 16th green. It was great to watch the pro’s skills around the greens and their power off the tee. After doing this we stumbled past a whiskey bar on the way back that was putting on a putting challenge. The putt was an awkward one with the choice of going through barrels or round off the banks. Given my current putting woes I didn’t think I stood a chance, but my attempt found its way to the bottom of the cup which was accompanied by an ensemble of cheering drunk spectators who had been watching. It was great fun to hole a putt for the first time in a while, but depressing that it was my greatest golfing achievement over the last six months.
The Sunday morning was an earlier start than the previous days with George and I knowing that we needed to watch some more golf before Mother Nature struck again. We found a great spot on the grandstand at the first green were we watched the pros make countless birdies as they pitched it close every time. After this we followed Louis around to see what is probably the greatest swing in golf. It was amazing to see the amount of South Africans there as we took over the links for a day and followed our fellow countryman. When the leaders had got to about the 10th hole we made our way to the 17th green grandstand, which is an unbelievable structure and must have been one of the biggest grandstands in golf. One couldn’t help but feel this was the hole were champions were made as it posed such a great challenge for every aspect of the golfer’s game.
As that evening was the last with George, myself and Anna took him to the Whey Pat for a final drink. Unfortunately, George’s flight was in the middle of the leaders round on the Monday, so we knew we wouldn’t get to watch the winner finish. After taking George to Edinburgh airport on the Monday I made my way home and decided to pick up Anna to maybe get a glimpse of the last putt of The Open. We made it just in time to hear the large sigh as Louis missed his putt in the playoff. It was a shame that Louis didn’t win as he had played so exceptionally all week, but a deserved winner was Zack.
Now I am flying home to Dubai for a while to get a much needed break in the desert. It has been a great summer so far with a chance to see some amazing things and meet some great people, but now is a time to see family. Hopefully I will get the chance to keep on having these great experiences as I try my best to tell you what Living as a Links Golfer is like, but that will have to wait as the air hostesses have told me to pack away my laptop for landing… cheers.