Bulldog's blog: A walk with ghosts at St. Andrews
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Senior writer Alex Miceli, affectionately known as the Bulldog, will be in England and Scotland for nearly a month and will be keeping you updated with his latest tidbits in a daily blog for Golfweek. Here is his July 13 installment . . .
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ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Spending time at the "Home of Golf" is one of the game's best experiences.
No other sport allows a fan to walk the same fairways as the giants of the game, walk the streets that Old Tom Morris and Bobby Jones strolled and enjoy the town that has been so important to the growth of the game.
PHOTOS: A tour of St. Andrews, Old Course
Our Alex Miceli is on a month-long journey through England and Scotland, and made a stop in St. Andrews.
So welcome to St. Andrews, and if you haven’t been here before, you absolutely must make the trip.
Now that my visitor-bureau speech for Fife and St. Andrews is done, let me tell you about the last couple of days in the "Home of Golf."
But first, an aside from my trip to Trump International.
I maintain that few in the golf industry are really doing anything positive for golf. My short list includes Mike Keiser, Herb Kohler and Donald Trump.
You can agree or disagree with Trump, but he is passionate about golf and the growth of the game.
To give an example of his hands-on approach, he called me and left a message asking if I could call him after my round at Trump International Scotland.
When I eventually talked with him the next day, he was interested in my thoughts on the course. For 20 minutes, we talked about the course and how he could make it better.
That type of involvement is impressive and tells you how seriously he takes the project.
Let’s move on. The weather has been tremendous in Scotland, and it continued on my first day in St. Andrews.
It was so hot that the beach car park Friday was packed with beachgoers and swimmers.
Playing the Jubilee course, which is closest to the beach, you could hear the people and see kites flying on the beach.
It had to be one of the best weather days I’ve ever seen in St. Andrews.
Saturday was an Old Course day. Using the Old Course ballot, we got a tee time for 4 p.m. Saturday.
It turns out that during the past two days, Jason Dufner and Josh Teater played the Old Course on Friday, and Johnson Wagner and Tom Weiskopf played on Saturday.
Wagner was on the 15th green when we were playing the third hole. He came over and spent a couple of minutes before moving on.
Weiskopf, 70, the 1973 Open Championship winner at Royal Troon, is in the U.K. for ESPN's coverage. He was in the group behind us and actually pulled his own bag on a cart. That might seem like an unusual sight, to see an Open champion using a pull cart, but that’s how it is over here.
Recent changes at the Old Course alter the play of three holes.
- Moving the two bunkers right of the second hole makes the hole more difficult with a miss right. Before, the bunkers were so far back that they weren’t much of an issue. Now, if a shot is missed short right, a bunker shot awaits.
- The flattening of the 11th green created more hole locations on the left part of the green, including behind the Bobby Jones bunker, and will make the hole harder in some cases and easier in others. But because about half of the green was redone, the speed of the 11th hole is a bit inconsistent.
- The change to the 17th hole looks to be the most out of place. The "Road Hole bunker" up by the green used to be round and deep. Now, it's more like an oval, not as deep and constructed to gather more wayward and short shots.
I’m OK with the changes to the second and 11th holes, but I'm not a fan of the change to the 17th.
Well the first week in the U.K. is in the books. Sunday involves a drive to Muirfield in Gullane, where I check into the house and go check out the media center and Muirfield.
I promised a tour of St. Andrews. Take a look at the photo gallery with some of the highlights of traveling to the "Home of Golf."