St. Andrews

St. Andrews in all its Glory

These 10 images from 2022 illustrate why there is no other place like the Home of Golf

By Matt Ginella

In scrolling through a year of pictures and videos, it became obvious that one destination had a significant impact on my life in golf. 

I was lucky enough to travel to St. Andrews three times in 2022. I took two spins around the Old Course and visited the cemetery twice, at midnight. I played the New Course. I befriended Shelia Walker, the great-great granddaughter of Old Tom Morris. Had a short-game clinic and dinner with Tom Watson in the R&A clubhouse. (Thank you, MasterCard.) I saw snow and rainbows, lots of dogs and two goats: Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. There was Peyton and Eli Manning. Jim (Bones) Mackay and Joe LaCava. Watching the 150th Open Championship unfold from the rooftop bar of the Rusack’s Hotel and the roof of Hamilton Hall will go down as the greatest live sporting event of my life. 

You might have seen the video series Fire Pit Collective did for Golf Digest, an homage to Old Tom and his influence on so many aspects of the game. And you might’ve read “Thanks for Having Me,” the story I wrote about why the week of the Open was so special. Then there were the daily articles and podcasts that were produced that week by Alan Shipnuck and Michael Bamberger. The conveyor belt of stories, social cuts and articles were edited and posted by the Collective’s Mark Godich, Aaron Adkins, Jake Muldowney, Bennett Kohut and Alex Upegui. Poor Colt Knedler tested positive for Covid the day he arrived to cover the tournament and spent the week quarantined in his AirBnb, sustained by food and medicine drops from nurse Shipnuck, who reportedly makes a tasty homemade chicken soup. If you know anything about the irrepressible Knedler, you know that missing out on the fun of Open week was his worst nightmare. (A close second would be having a nurse named Shipnuck.) 

But Knedler was there for the first trip to St. Andrews, in February. That’s the trip on which we did a bulk of our reporting on all things Old Tom. The second visit was in May, which is when we met up with Watson. And the third trip was in July for the Open itself. 

Here are my 10 favorite photos from those three trips.

I’ll start from the roof of Hamilton Hall. The Malzonis of Brazil hosted a party during Open week and we celebrated the majestic views. The stuff that would make a drone drool.

Hamilton Hall roof

Down the right side of the 1st fairway is a little patch of land that serves as a nursery of sorts, where the keepers of the Old Course harvest plugs of turf like some golfers repopulate their hairline. Worth noting, Gordon McKie is only the ninth course manager since Old Tom Morris. “I think about him every day,” said McKie, who pointed out Old Tom’s bust in the wall and below the clock on the R&A clubhouse, which overlooks the 1st tee.

The Old Course

During the day, golf balls carom and careen and funnel into the nooks and swales of the crispy linksland that is the Old Course. And on occasion, the sacred ground reveals some secrets, but only in the first and last hour of daylight. 

St. Andrews

We could’ve used that intel on the day we got to play in May. I was joined by three of my favorite Irish friends. Which is saying something because Lord knows I love Irish people. That’s Marty Carr (middle), Shane Fleming (top left) and Killian O’Dowd (front left) along with Izzy DeHerrera, who was in town producing stories for Golf Channel. He joined us for the Swilken Bridge pic and some pints after the round.

top10 standrews4 2

You’re never in a hurry to walk up the 18th fairway—that is a stroll to savor, especially on a day like that, with friends like these. Thanks to Kyle Walton for this everlasting image of that memorable moment. 

Old Course

The 18th green of the Old Course has always been special to me, but even more so now that I’ve had the chance to meet and spend time with Sheila Walker. To stand on the roadway below her window and chat her up, the very window Old Tom would sit by and watch his garden germinate and blossom into the course we still play to this day, was humbling to say the least. Picture John Cusack in Say Anything, sans the boombox. Mrs. Walker manages the indelible legacy of the Morris name and its place in the game with such class and grace. She has made a point of being invested and educated on the nuance of so many facts and details about her family tree. To this day, Walker navigates the same stairs, across the same patch of land that is the 18th green and the 1st tee, onto the same beach, scoops up the same sand and top-dresses Old Tom’s old backyard. And as she leaves the flat that overlooks the “Home” hole to catch the bus, she has a ritual: She cups her hand and presses her nose against the window of the workshop. “I like to make sure everything is all right before I leave,” she said as she took her purse in one hand and my hand in the other. I walked Sheila Walker to the bus stop. What a treat. 

Sheila Walker

Another batch of Irish friends were in town for the Open, and on Thursday night, not long after the first round wrapped up, we hoofed it from the Jigger Inn to the Seafood Ristorante. And we got there by walking across the 17th fairway, around the Road Hole green and bunker, over the 18th tee and onto the Swilken again, which is when we flagged a security guard to help us take this pic. At Augusta National, our remains would’ve been found in Rae’s Creek. On the bridge over this burn, from left, that’s Eoin Lynch, Mark Sartini and Joe Canning, the hurling legend of Galway. The four of us were on a memory-making heater for the first 48 hours of the week. The walk that led to this image was one of them. 

Swilken Bridge

For my second cemetery trip of 2022, I was joined by the Golf Channel contingent of Rich Lerner, Matt Hegarty, Jeff Fabian, Ari Marcus and Izzy DeHerrera. Who doesn’t feel settled knowing that Old and Young Tom Morris are together forever?

Old Tom Morris cemetery

If you happen to be in St. Andrews on the day after a snowstorm, no one would blame you for being bummed that the course was closed. That’s hard on a golfer’s heart. But the Old Course under a blanket of fresh powder is most certainly easy on the eyes.

St. Andrews snow

Which brings us to Dolly Parton, who once said: “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”

St. Andrews rainbow
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2 thoughts on “St. Andrews in all its Glory”

  1. Spent 3 weeks in St Andrews in 2022, starting the Tues after the Open. Had such a good time, doing 4 weeks in 2023, plus a week in N Berwick. Hard to beat.

  2. My wife and I have spent every Summer for the last 20 years in St Andrews. The most magical place on earth. First trip was in ‘85 and it far exceeded all my expectations. Hopefully have a few more years before my ashes are spread over TOC.

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