It was the summer of 1999. I had just finished my freshman year at Arizona State, and I was in the British Isles as part of a study abroad program with the Barrett Honors College. For six weeks, we attended classes in London, England, Dublin, Ireland, and Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s been several years, but there are a few things I still remember: enjoying a Stella Artois at the pub across from our London flat, the Mister Softee ice cream cones and Magnum ice cream bars, and my weekend train trip to St Andrews.
One of the best things about this trip was that we had the freedom to travel around the country on the weekends. This trip was also my introduction to train travel. When you live in Arizona, you don’t take a lot of train trips. They’re fantastic and can be incredibly relaxing.
There are these fields of bright yellow flowers throughout the English countryside that you can see from the train. It’s actually rapeseed, a plant used in the production of canola oil. I think it was about an hour from Edinburgh to St Andrews by rail, but I don’t remember exactly.
While it’s probably most famous for The Old Course, the “home of golf” and site of this year’s Open Championship, this quaint little town is also home to the University of St Andrews. It’s the 3rd-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the oldest in Scotland. Students make up approximately one-third of the town’s population of 16,600 when class is in session.
St Andrews is named after Saint Andrew the Apostle, and there has been an important church there since at least the 8th century. The settlement grew to the west of St Andrews cathedral, which now lies in ruins. A number of bones believed to be the St Andrew’s arm, kneecap, three fingers, and a tooth are said to have been brought to the town by St Regulus.
I remember going into the pro shop for Open Championship ball markers for me and my brother. Believe it or not, I still hadn’t really picked-up the game competitively, but as a sports fan, I understood the importance of where I was standing. Golf’s hallowed ground.
I skipped stones from the beach into the North Sea, and then, before I left, I had to take one last picture alongside The Old Course. I’d never seen a sign like this before, and I haven’t seen one since. It read, “DANGER, Golf in Progress.” Depending on how good you are, I guess it can be a dangerous place to stand… or even crouch.