In June of 2019 I took a golf trip to St Andrews with two of my buddies. At the end of our trip, I slid my golf clubs into my locker at the New Club and left town for a wedding in England. Little did I know, I wouldn’t return to St Andrews (or really travel for golf) for three years!
Since that last trip to St Andrews I left the golf industry, set roots in Asheville, North Carolina, and the pandemic shut down golf travel. My priorities in life have shifted, and instead of focusing on my next golf trip, I turned my attention to home. This website has taken a backseat to life, but, with this post and a lot of work behind the scenes, I plan to post more and more in the coming months.
When I was seven weeks old my parents took me to Scotland. At each stop along the trip my parents snapped pictures and they eventually created a scrapbook of the trip, complete with photos of baby Graylyn in castles, near lochs, and in the pubs. When I enrolled 18 years later at the University of St Andrews, my mom pulled out the scrapbook and I excitedly turned to the St Andrews page. I was disappointed to find no pictures, and instead a note saying, “Ralph forgot the camera!”
30 years later, I just returned from my own trip to Scotland with my three-month-old son and we’re compiling photos for a scrapbook as we speak… thankfully we didn’t forget the camera on the St Andrews leg!
To take my son to Scotland was an emotional experience. In practice, the days were filled with planning naps, feedings, and finding diapers, but in the quiet moments, the emotions hit me. That was especially true walking little Henry across the Swilcan Bridge and up the 18th on the Old Course. Even more special, we were walking amongst the Open Championship amphitheater, with the enormous grandstands looming around us.
To take Henry on the streets and fairways where I lived and played during my college years was something else… I can’t wait to take him back once he’s able to play golf and walk on his own two legs!
After walking the 18th, my wife, my mom, and my buddy Josh and I took Henry into the New Club and then up to the Dunvegan, we clinked pints and told stories about our rounds and past trips to Scotland.
What Was St Andrews Like Before the 150th Open?
Our trip fell exactly four weeks before the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews. Oddly, the town was relatively quiet. Mere days before we got there, the Old Course closed for final preparations before the championship. With the Old closed, the visiting golf tourists went elsewhere, leaving the town eerily quiet.
Josh, my dad, and I played rounds on the New Course, the Castle Course, and the Eden Course. In all three cases we walked up to the starters and were almost immediately on the tee. It was strange to see the town with so few golfers in the middle of peak season. No complaints!
The town of St Andrews has the power to connect people. The very idea of this website was suggested to me by a golfer from Texas who randomly joined our group on the Old Course in 2010. I’ve met and made some of my best friends in the town, including my wife!
The ability to introduce my son to St Andrews and Scotland at such a young age is special. I have no doubt that the town and country will carry the same meaning for him as for me. He’ll certainly be going back as often as possible.
Great to have you back! I always love reading your stories. Congratulations on your son! I never thought about this fact but this might be the perfect time to visit St. Andrews. I love this place! I have been 5 times (4 on golf trips) and the last time 3 couples spent the week with wives and only played golf twice (The Old and The New). This was my best visit as I had time to explore and live life with the locals. Welcome back and enjoy your new life!
Jim, thank you for your comment! It sounds like your trip with the couples and my latest trip were really similar. Much of my time was spent with my wife and Henry showing my brothers and parents around town… it’s a fun way to slow down and see the town from a different viewpoint.
Thank you for the support and look out for more posts in the coming days!
Nice article. I first came to St Andrews in 1985 and it was all I had hoped it would be. I’ve been coming almost every year since then and my wife and I have been spending our summers here for the last 20 years. In 2019 I made a 2nd trip for the year in November to play TOC in reverse. 2021 we came over and had to quarantine for 10 days. Turned out to be perfect. Most people don’t come long enough to be able to quarantine and the town was virtually empty. Every day I would walk down to the Pavilion and the staff would have multiple times still available. This year we arrived June 3rd and the town was hopping. Largest ballot entries daily that anyone could remember. Then TOC closed and everyone was gone. Next week I feel we will experience the greatest golf event in the history of the game. It is truly the greatest place on earth and we have been truly blessed.
Ron, it’s great to hear from you! I can only imagine what the town was like during the pandemic… golf heaven! Enjoy next week and enjoy your time in the town. Safe to say that you have life figured out!
It just keeps getting better. Just got tickets to Younger Hall for the Jack Nicklaus ceremony next Tuesday.
My wife and I made our first trip to St Andrews in August 2018. I arrived at The Que at 4am the next morning and I was # 9. The Golf Channel showed up at 5 and told us they were making a documentary on St Andrews in celebration of 150th. I think they liked my enthusiasm so now I’m featured in the early part of The Greatest Golf Story Ever Told. Tom Obrodovich from Eagle River Wis
Tom, your story captures that amazing “it” factor that St Andrews has. It connects people, creates stories, and captures golfers unlike any other destination in the world… I am sure that morning and round was worth the 4am wakeup call!
Very nice to hear your “voice” again. I really enjoy reading your postings. I also have my bag stashed away at the New Club but managed to pick it up a few weeks ago. Keep posting mate.
Thank you for the note, Lars! Will keep it going!
The round was soooo special. Especially 17 and 18. People everywhere. I remember getting on 18 in regulation and being so excited the 3 putt made no difference. U are correct about The It factor. Tom