By REX HOGGARD
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Asked where he would play all of his major championships if he had the choice, Tiger Woods didn’t hesitate – St. Andrews. Phil Mickelson offered a similar endorsement saying the Royal & Ancients should ditch the rota and make the Auld Grey Toon the Open Championship’s permanent address.
Nothing against the Turnberrys and Royal Troons of the rota, all fine venues with more history on a single mound than most American layouts have over their entire 18 holes, but nothing beats St. Andrews.
Not inside the ropes, where the game is played on a crisscrossed pitch with an assortment of double greens and a litany of strategic options, or outside.
“Some golf courses are like a mugger, hold a gun to you and say 'give me a stroke,'” said Alan Grant, the master of ceremonies at Skibo Castle, who is best described as the Scottish David Feherty. “The Old Course taps you on the shoulder, asks about your family and how you are doing and, by the way, I’ll just take a stroke from you.”
But it is surrounding color and texture that truly makes St. Andrews worth an annual visit. No other major venue is as intimate or inviting as St. Andrews, from the iconic Old Course Hotel and adjacent Jigger Inn to the Dunvegan pub, a staple hardly a pitching wedge from the Old Course’s 18th green.
Golf deserves a yearly St. Andrews fix, and besides it seems to work just fine for the folks at Augusta National.
By JAY COFFIN
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – The Old Course is a special place, but coming here once every five years is perfect. There isn’t a better atmosphere in all of golf to hold a championship of this magnitude, but there are many great courses in the Open rota which deserve to host this grand event.
If nothing else it gives us a chance to revisit historic championships from the past. Had we not returned to Turnberry in 2009, we wouldn’t have talked about the Duel in the Sun, the epic battle in 1977 where Tom Watson bettered Jack Nicklaus. Next year when we return to Royal St. Georges, we’ll talk about Greg Norman’s final-round 64 in 1993 to clip Nick Faldo by two shots. Royal Lytham & St. Annes will host in 2012 and David Duval and Seve Ballesteros will be front and center. History is important to this great game and going back to places that produced historic moments is invaluable.
I especially enjoyed the sense of urgency that players felt this year. Phil Mickelson understands the importance of the Old Course. He knows that the best players in history have won here. That’s why he was miffed that he played so poorly. He knows that his next shot to win here will be in 2015, when he’s 45 and likely past his prime.
There isn’t a better Open Championship to win than one that’s at the Old Course. Having it here each year could make winning lose some of its luster.