Thursday, April 30, 2009
How Not To Do St. Andrews
It is one of the best kept secrets in golf. To play St. Andrews, all you really have to do is show up in the quaint, Scottish town and saunter up to the starter's box. If you have the £110 to tee it up, and you're alone, you will get on the Old Course. I did it back in 2004. Studying abroad in London, my uncle and I flew up to the storied links to play a little golf. The day after we'd beat it around the Old Course and tried our hand at St. Andrew's Jubilee Course, the weather turned and my uncle wasn't exactly in a bad weather golf mode. So, instead of heading across the water to Carnoustie, I decided to walk on as a single at the Old Course. Just 30 minutes later I was on the tee with a group of Danish buddies.
Golf Digest's Peter Finch wrote a detailed feature about St. Andrews and how, if you don't watch it, you can be paying way more than necessary.
First thing to avoid when booking a trip to St. Andrews is a company called the Old Course Experience. Golf Digest outlines how they can rip you off on a trip, pointing to a package that can run you $3,500 to get to tell people you've hit out of the Road Hole Bunker. The caddies at St. Andrews hate the Old Course Experience. The reasoning is simple. The OCE includes the caddie fee into their price, so it guarantees the caddies make just £50. Caddying at the Old Course for an entire summer, I can tell you that £50 is basically like leaving your waitress 10 percent. If you did a good job, which most of the caddies over there do, you are supposed to leave £60, and you can go above and beyond that if you feel so inclined.
Check out the article for even more in depth information about prices and how to do St. Andrews the right way. Honestly, if you want a good place to say, I'll suggest two places. The Dunvegan, which is a bar you will visit even if you don't stay there for your trip, or the Braeside Inn, a fun little bed and breakfast with great people and amazing food in the morning (also, you might get to see a picture of the owner wearing a kilt at Augusta National).