Now you might be thinking how challenging can a putting course be? Well, if it’s the Himalayas, and you play off a five handicap like Kevin does and you’ve already taken six without finishing the hole, I’d say that is pretty damn challenging!
“I want a mulligan,” Kevin insisted, as his ball went everywhere but in the hole.
Well that cracked me up so much I almost peed in my pants. We did do the hole over again and made a rule right then and there that five was the maximum we could take on any hole.
Truth be told, after botching up the first hole, I said, “Sweetheart there’s nobody behind us, let’s just start over, ok?”
We each took one ball and our putter and walked over from our apartment by the 18th green of the Old Course. I had been looking forward to this experience for years—not only for the sheer fun of it—but because I figured there is no way I’m going to lose a ball!
Just like at regular courses the world over, there was a starter. As soon as we arrived around 4PM and paid our 2 Pounds he said, “You can go now.” Perfect.
“Can I have a scorecard?” I asked, since he didn’t offer. We were each given a little white card plus he gave me a super sharp bright red pencil.
The famed Himalayas, which is open from April to the end of September, is the home of The St Andrews Ladies’ Putting Club, which was founded in 1867. It has officers just like any other golf club, which include a President and a Secretary and even a Tournament Secretary!
And if that doesn’t bring a smile to your face, how about this from the St Andrews Links 2013 Local Club Review:
“Informal Thursday mornings have once again proved popular with a shotgun start and as many as sixty players taking part.”
It is really quite an amusing vision, having so many people spread out on this wee course, full of humps, hollows and linksy hills which sits side-by-side the hallowed ground of the Old Course.
Until I did some research later, I had no idea that there are ‘Members Times’ when the course is closed to the public, that the ‘Rules’ insist that you keep up with the group ahead (that might be just 20 yards ahead), and that the course record, held by G. Anderson is 34. That amazing -2 score was accomplished with two holes-in-one!
I wasn’t even sure where to begin, but Kevin found the flat, triangular ceramic white arrow with the number 1 in black, affixed to the ground.
We both went along nicely, making twos and threes until we got to that really tricky “do-over” hole which just about drove Kevin around the twist.
From the same St Andrews Links 2013 Local Club Review, which describes the entire vibrant golf scene of competitions and prize winners including the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (formed 1754), The New Golf Club of St Andrews (formed 1902), St Regulus Ladies’ Golf Club (formed 1913), The St Rule Golf Club (formed 1901), among others, you can find out the 2012 winners of such tournaments as the “Birdie” Owl Paperweight (St Rule), the Rutherford Eclectic Salver (St Regulus), Texas Scramble (The New Golf Club), the Power Vase (Thistle Golf Club), and the Scott Foursomes (Children’s Golf Club), plus all the monthly Medals and other annual fixtures of at least fifteen clubs based in St Andrews.
When I read somewhere that the St Regulus Ladies Golf Club even has a separate Putting Membership (along with a Golfing Membership), I thought Eureka—I finally found my future golf home in St Andrews! But given that this is St Andrews we’re talking about, I probably have to be nominated and seconded and voted in and who knows if I will live long enough for that to happen.
Oh, and there is one other small thing, I probably have to be a resident of St Andrews!
We are now on the back nine of the Himalayas. The grass is the same all over, so you really have to develop your judgement as to the speed (or the slowness) of the many quirky undulations, which Kevin did slightly better than me, but only slightly, since we erased that six-and-counting!
There is hope, however, since I read that in the Millennium Trophy Competition which is held on the Ladies’ Putting Green over Thursday and the quarter-finals on Friday morning, it was contested by eight ladies all of whom, except one, a close contender, were over eighty!
Not only that, the final was contested by two ladies both over ninety!
So now I have the answer. All I have to do is live to be eighty or so. How hard can that be?