The reason we went to Edinburgh in the first place, is that it is located relatively close to our ultimate destination, St. Andrews. About two months earlier, I was watching the Masters and playfully suggested to Chelsea “We should go to the British Open since we are over here and all”. She surprised me and replied, “yeah that would be fun”. For those that aren’t familiar with golf, it has four “major” events: The Masters, US Open, British Open and PGA Championship. As a golf fan, one of my goals is to see each of these majors live, and I have been lucky enough to go to both the US Open and PGA with my Dad. Already being on this side of the world, I thought it would be a great opportunity to check out the British Open.
We could have decided to check out the Open another year, but this year was special for two reasons. 2010 marks the 150th year of playing the tournament, and it was located at the birthplace of golf, St. Andrews Scotland. The championship tournament lasts 4 days, and we took a gamble and went on Sunday, the last day. Our My hope was that we would be able to see an exciting finish, while still being able to see our favorite players, hoping they weren’t eliminated after the first two days.
Unfortunately for us, the security at the British Open was very similar to standard airport security. We sent our belongings through x-ray scanners and went through metal detectors ourselves. Not only were they checking for weapons of mass destruction, they were also screening for cameras and phones, as neither were allowed inside. This meant that I couldn’t update to Facebook or Twitter while on the course or take any pictures to boost my memory of our trip in 10 years. Luckily for us though, I bought Chelsea an iPod Nano for Christmas, which was equipped with a video camera, and that made its way through security.
St. Andrews has a different layout of most courses I was used to, many of the greens are shared. Here is a video of us sitting at the 16th/3rd hole green. Hopefully you can see both greens, as well as get an idea of what it is like to watch golf live.
Don’t worry, it isn’t all that boring. We had binoculars to help see, and actually ended up quite close to some players. Instead of following the leaders around, we chose to go backwards on the links, and watch all the players come in to the end. In the video below, you can get an idea what the weather was like and for those that are fans of golf, maybe even identify the player I was filming.
Funny thing about the weather actually. We were decked out in rain gear, 3-climate jackets, waterproof pants and shoes, as well as a HUGE golf umbrella. And with all that, we got sunburns. Well, I think it was really more wind/sun burn, but we got super lucky and didn’t get wet. I was a bit worried that we would get soaked, and Chelsea’s first experience with professional golf would be a wet, cold, boring event. It turns out that she actually had more fun than she anticipated. Our backwards approach to following the players actually worked out quite well, and we got to see up-and-coming stars like Rory McIlroy (below) and big name stars like Tiger Woods.
McIlroy was a big hit because he is a young kid from Ireland, and had the low round of the tournament with a 63 the first day. It turns out he also has a crazy hair cut, and is a really nice guy. The picture above is actually from the day we were there, and lead to the following exchange on the course:
Nick: I think that’s McIlroy’s group there.
Chelsea: I think so too.
skip a few beats
Nick: Wow, that was a really good shot.
Chelsea: Yeah….those guys are wearing the same thing.
It was a good start anyway. I later realized that Chels was just poking fun at all the stereotypes of female sports fans, and actually learned to appreciate how difficult golf is. Seriously, she told me that its WAY better to watch live, because you get a feel for the course, and how difficult it is to hit a tiny ball exactly like you want to. In a way, it humanizes the game you see on TV. As you can see in the second video above, we could get reasonably close to the players, and in way that changed her perception too. Love him or hate him, it was an interesting feeling to be within 20 feet of the billion dollar athlete and media star that is Tiger Woods. We actually followed Tiger for a few holes, and even saw him make his only birdies of the day. I think that was a highlight for Chelsea too, I know it was for me.
In addition to being the birthplace of golf, St. Andrews is also home to the most famous hole in golf, the 17th hole, or the Road Hole. Seats in the grandstand at 17 cost a pretty penny, and fill up really early, so we decided to skip them and keeping with our theme head over to the grandstand on the 1st hole instead. I knew we were in the right spot when it filled up with course employees instead of tourists. From here we were able to see the final groups go through 17, and then 18, across the famous bridge in the first picture. Below is one video I took from our seats.
You probably can’t see too much with the 0X optical zoom lens on that iPod, but trust me, we were in a great spot. There wasn’t much we couldn’t see from there with a pair of binoculars, or even just with our eyes. Plus, on the way home we got to walk across the fairway of the Road Hole, which is pretty special.
Overall, I would say that the extended weekend was a smashing success, and is one we will look back fondly on in the future. We both managed to have a fun time watching golf, and had a blast exploring Edinburgh. The only part about this trip that makes me sad is that we didn’t get a Scotland stamp in our passports.