At the 150th British Open, history joins a party years in the making
If history can lurk in the air in certain places, it lurks in the air so much here this week it’s a wonder the air does not collapse.
It’s everywhere and everything, or as golf philosopher Eldrick T. Woods put it, “It feels more historic than it normally has, and it’s hard to believe that.”
It’s heavy and hallowed at “arguably our biggest event ever” in golf, the words of English golfer and frequent major contender Tommy Fleetwood on a British Open broadcast.
It hovers over at the Saint Andrews Cemetery, where the people from afar and more afar walk through and pay respects to “Old Tom” Morris (1821-1908) and “Young Tom” Morris (1851-1875), the father and son who won British Opens Nos. 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12, four titles each.
Now that the Open has reached No. 150, its celebrated sesquicentennial, it’s more evocative than ever to view the grave of “Young Tom,” a sculpture of whom stands ready to hit a ball that looks somewhat buried.
Maybe it’s harsh to have a guy face a bad lie into eternity, or maybe it’s complimentary to know he could handle it with aplomb.
In the pretty, stony gumdrop of a town founded around 1140, making it older than, say, Dallas, there’s history in the store windows, from which the late, magnificent Seve Ballesteros sometimes beams, his famed 12-foot putt from 1984 coaxing his famed fist pump plus the description as “the single happiest shot of my life.”
The history breathes — and maybe even sips — a block up Golf Place from the course, at the Dunvegan Hotel restaurant and bar, also famed, where the ambitious sign in the window reads, “Good, fresh food served where you can eat with the Ghosts of Former Open Champions.”
The people are sardined in there these Open days, and the place appears to serve alcoholic beverages.
The Open has come back here, and the town of 16,800 with its university students from the world and its craggy golfers from nearby has gone into a mighty festival.
The “150” logos shout from T-shirts, bark from caps and blare from the chairs painted to make “150” in the grandstands. Otherwise it might not look all that much different from previous Opens here, with 2015 the most recent, but it certainly feels like a whole lot of more.