ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Every five years, the old dame of St. Andrews puts on her best dress and throws a grand party that mesmerizes the golf world.
The 2015 Open Championship will be the 29th held on the Old Course at St. Andrews. The links, set along the Eden Estuary in the heart of the Home of Golf, held its first British Open in 1873, creating a history of memorable shots and unfortunate encounters with dastardly pot bunkers with names like Spectacles and Lion's Mouth.
The cherished links is flat but infinitely rumpled, a maze of double greens, gorse and wild bounces. The empty grandstands taking shape give the grounds a grandiose feel. The Old Course Hotel intrudes upon the famous 17th hole, the "Road Hole," forcing players to hit the most awkward drive over a section of the building to find the fairway. Stray approach shots often end up in a small road or stuck next to a stone wall.
It's pure fun or maddening, depending upon your point of view. A burn dissects the adjacent first and 18th fairway. Any walk across the Swilcan Bridge down the 18th fairway toward the "Valley of Sin" near the green is a special one, whether you're Jack Nicklaus playing in your final Open or one of the lucky hackers who wins the daily ballot to walk on without having to pay expensive surcharges to guarantee a tee time.
Without wind, the Old Course can succumb to the power of the modern game. Let's hope with a little help from Mother Nature that St. Andrews crowns another worthy champion this July.