My favorite golf walk of 2022 revealed the other side of St. Andrews

The view from the top of the Rusacks.

Dylan Dethier

Sunday at St. Andrews felt like golf had changed forever.

The big season has just ended. Open Championship winner Cameron Smith was a rumored LIV commit – an intriguing twist in the final chapter of a growing rift in the professional game. Other LIV pros addressed their uncertain future as their tournaments wrapped up. Paul Casey admitted that his world ranking could soon drop:

“I was fully aware of what could be,” he said.

Ian Poulter lamented his 62nd place:

“It could well be my last. It’s a shame it didn’t end the way I wanted it to,” he said.

And Sergio Garcia said it very clearly:

“Things come to an end. That’s how it is,” he said.

Everything was changing. Here at the House of Golf, Europe’s Ryder Cup stalwarts have overturned tradition in favor of a new reality. European Ryder Cup captain Henrik Stenson was also set to join them. Professional golf already looked different.

The face of professional golf also faced an uncertain future. Tiger Woods had already left town; two days had passed since his emotional march to the 18th hole. With Woods’ health and the Open schedule still up in the air, it’s unclear if we’ll see Tiger on The Old again. Overall, Sunday felt like the last day of school.

But Monday at St. Andrews felt like a timeless dream.

My day started out the way most of our post-major Mondays do. We end the stories of the week from the comfort of our AirBnB business (just How? ‘Or’ What comfortable varies drastically from event to event) and begin the process of returning home.

This day was different. As housemates for the week Alan Bastable and Josh Berhow left early for Edinburgh, I stayed. My colleague Sean Zak had lived in St. Andrews all summer and still had a month to go, so I had booked my flight home for Tuesday. This way, I would have the chance to see his world.

We played Duke’s Course in St. Andrews that morning, a landscaped park just outside of town that runs through the woods but has great views of St. Andrews proper. It was a sweltering Scottish summer day – our taxi driver said it was the hottest he had ever seen – so after showering and dropping our things off at Sean’s flat, we we left for the city. What followed was a glorious afternoon.

St. Andrews, a town of less than 20,000 people, is rallying for its role as host of the Open. But there was something special about seeing the city return to summer normality just a day later. The local guys who roll at the bowling club. Honoring everyday mundane things, like checking duck-ducks in the Kinness Burn. The narrow, alley-style alleys, which connect one cobbled street to another – but watch your head!

Our first official stop was the Dunvegan, the informal 19th hole of the Old Course, where we stopped for a pint and a bite. Two other golf writers – Sean Martin of the PGA Tour and Kyle Porter of CBS – were seated up front when we arrived. They too had taken the extra day. Inside were Bellhaven’s Best and Tennent’s and steak-and-ale pie. On the TVs, flanked by autographed photos of popular pros, Rory McIlroy still held the Sunday lead. Cameron Smith was prowling.

The sun slowly fell lower as we left the Dunny and walked around to see what was happening at the Old Course. Summer days in Scotland seem endless; the sun rises early and doesn’t set until 10pm, which means you could still finish your tour after most restaurants have closed.

We walked around the stands behind the 18th green. The day before, those places would have been invaluable as the tournament drew to a close. Now it was just a curly-haired young man named Caleb sitting in the front row. He was reading Ulysses.

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We followed our curiosity around town the rest of the evening. First in the giant yellow dash, where SMITH still stood on top. Various important and/or lucky golfers still finished in 18th place; we heard one of their tee shots crash into a van on the adjacent road. Along the way to see the commotion, we met some of the NBC crew, including Paul Azinger and Mark Rolfing, who hadn’t left the bubble yet either.

Curiosity called us to the Rusacks rooftop bar, where we met a celebratory dinner party shared by Australian writers Evin Priest and Ben Everill. Everything was visible from up there: not only the shared fairway of 1 and 18, but also the rest of the course stretching into the sunset and West Sands beach beyond. There was something anticlimactic about the evening, the feeling that something important had just ended. But what remained was also special.

Walking around St. Andrews feels like things are going to last. There’s the actual longevity of the place; buildings that have stood for hundreds of years and the prestigious university was founded in 1413. The city’s foundations are strong, and if this is the home of golf, so are the foundations of the game. Things change. Career paths are changing. They are finishing. But other things remain.

Our night kept coming to an end; we had a last glass of ice cream at Jannetta, then stopped at Central Bar for a final finale. A group of university students sat at the table behind us. Our voices echoed down Market Street and into the night. Visitors have been coming to St. Andrews for nearly a millennium, seeking blessings and healings. Here are two more.

Dylan Dethier

Dylan Dethier Editor

Dylan Dethier is Senior Editor for GOLF Magazine/ The native of Williamstown, Mass. joined GOLF in 2017 after two years of struggling on the mini-laps. Dethier is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in English, and is the author of 18 in Americawhich details the year he spent as an 18-year-old living off his car and playing a round of golf in every state.

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