I moved to St Andrews in the summer. Here’s why

The world’s largest fairway was scaled back a bit this spring with the arrival of the stands along the first hole in the old stadium.

Shawn Zack

Annoyance loomed in the air at Gate C65, John F. Kennedy International Airport. It was 9 p.m. local time, and the coronavirus was peaking in America again, and I was about to leave the country for 90 days.

Who else wears a mask? How many hours are in this box? Is this kid going to be screaming next to me in the tin can? Wait, why haven’t I been assigned a seat yet? Redeye International Singles during a pandemic isn’t exactly a place to unwind.

But then, about 20 yards through the C65, the perfect reminder: a young man, under the watch of his buddies, trains on his back. This is correct! I’m leaving home…to home golf – St Andrews, Fife, Scotland.

Several golfers have made this trip before, and many next to me have taken the DL0208 from New York to Edinburgh. But as the shuttle driver who picked me up from the airport mentioned, this is usually a group trip. “Why do you do this alone?” Asked.

(Personal answer is a combination of I’d like to do something cool at work And the I had better do something cool. I just turned thirty.The general answer is that there couldn’t be a more exciting moment in golf history than those next few months. Competing golf rounds threaten the status quo. Modern technology takes away ancient traditions. As the game of golf changes around the world, what does golf in St. Andrews, her hometown, look like on the doorstep of the R&A, the game’s oldest governing body.

Tiger Woods – The Robot! – Compete here this summer. He barely managed to finish the Masters, limping his way away from ownership in the PGA Championship, but is already committed to the Open at St Andrews. why? Because Old Course is Woods’ favorite course in the entire world. It was quite an achievement for him to play four rounds at Augusta National, but from Butler Cabin – inside the belly of the beast! Nah, said Woods, my favorite course is across the Atlantic, four thousand miles from here.

Shawn Zack

Shawn Zack

The Old Course is a Brooks Koepka favorite too. A favorite of many of the game’s best minds. It’s where the best players in the world play some of the most emotional rounds of golf. It is one of the rare places where a handshake is not enough after 18 years. Only a hug will do the trick.

When I told Tommy Fleetwood’s pack, Ian Fiennes, about my summer plans, he was thrilled. “My favorite place in the world,” he said. He is planning multiple visits in the weeks leading up to the Open Championship. Simply put, you can have your own Pebble Beach and Brookline Beach this summer. There is no better place than here, in Fife.

My shuttle driver, Colin, was the perfect audience for my rushed interpretation, since he’s not a golfer. And he wasn’t my bartender on the first day in town. Not my AirBnb host! I’ve made the same mistake with all three, and for many others recently, saying the St. Andrews Open is like a golf Super Bowl. But my co-worker Dylan Diether recently corrected me: It’s more like the World Cup of golf. The opening occurs in St. Andrews once every five or six years. And in the event that this epidemic spread for the first time in seven years.

And during a day in the city, the noise was palpable. Bartenders are already discussing special arrangements for open crowds, as patrons will literally sell out their seats at the bar to those waiting outside. On Wednesday, as the amateurs swayed on the floor, the championship scoring team had already begun rehearsals. And shortly thereafter, yes, I was crushing my first can of Irn-Bru, a Scottish delicacy that’s the perfect blend of orange cream soda and Mountain Dew.

My job, all summer long, is to capture some of that magic – both the exciting aspects of the world’s largest tournament, but also the more mundane brilliance that makes St Andrews a true home of golf…and an otherwise great place to visit. I will do so from a one bedroom rental on Allan Robertson Drive, named after the best native golfer on the planet. Tom Morris earned all the acclaim, having the right to name a street after him nearby, but after Robertson’s death the Open Championship began in 1860, in an effort to replace him with a proper golfer every year.

On this summer trip in Scotland, we’ll undoubtedly get into some general things like a visit to Old Tom Morris’ grave – a classic American golfer’s pilgrimage – or a night out among Pagans trying to win a tee time. We’ll provide updates in the lead-up to the Open Championship, such as how the cold, dry spring is playing the track as steadily as possible at the moment. But hopefully we’ll find some secret topics along the way, like how the name “St. Andrews” became currency in this part of the world, how the Open Championship could dictate the economics of everything in this city, and also my 90-day search for a big copy of A sweatshirt worn by Tiger Woods during the second round of the 1995 Open.

Check back on Monday to hear my progress on that, and what it would be like when no one can play in the old pitch… except for dogs.

Have an idea for a summer story in Scotland? – I’ll hear them all! Just send a note to sean.zak@golf.com.