St. Andrews Links – Scotland
DAY 4 – This was our day for visiting St. Andrews, where golf was born in the 15th century. On our journey there we crossed the Firth of Forth, a bridge that was completed in 1890. The Forth was heavily over-constructed in an attempt to regain the public’s confidence after the tragic collapse of the Tay Bridge. It was a daring design for its times and when completed, it was the longest span in the world.
Did you know that the earliest known reference to golf dates to 1457, when King James II of Scotland banned golf and football on the grounds that they were keeping his subjects from their archery practice…and rightly so! What good is golf when one’s kingdom is being beseiged? The ban was repeated in 1471 by James III and also in 1491 by James IV for the same reason. It just goes to show how golf-crazy these Scotsmen were. The first surviving written reference to golf in St. Andrews is contained in Archbishop Hamilton’s Charter of 1552. The charter reserves the right of the people of St. Andrews to use the linksland “for golff, futball, schuteing and all gamis”. Initially, there was no standard number of holes on a golf course. St. Andrews for example had 22 holes until about 1764 when 4 were merged to make an 18 hole course.
Even non-golfers like myself know of the reputation of St. Andrews and it was quite exciting to be here where so many championships are held. The six Links courses are open to the public, but are extremely busy and very advanced bookings are required. We were told that you’d have to book a minimum of 3 months ahead. It must be every golfer’s dream to walk on St. Andrews Links and we saw a few of them strutting around and very showy. Even if not a golfer, it’s interesting observing the golfers and caddies getting ready. I must say that I had expected St. Andrews to be a grander sight than what we saw .. but then, I’m not a golfer!
Film buffs would know that St. Andrew’s is also one of the set locations for the 1981 movie ‘Chariots of Fire’. The beach was used for the Olympic team training scene.