Featured Columnist Andy Reistetter is home in Jacksonville Beach, Florida taking a break after 10 straight weeks on tour. While he is enjoying watching the Open at St. Andrews on television this week, here are his thoughts and comments…
The Top Ten Things I Absolutely Love about the Open at St. Andrews…
1. The Old Course at St. Andrews is the home of golf.
This is where the game of golf originated over 600 years ago.
Sailors walking up to town from the boats anchored in St. Andrews Bay knocking a rock around with a stick. Sheep finding shelter in a swale in the links land and exposing the first sand bunker.
The rock becomes wood and then a feather-encased leather sphere. The stick becomes enhanced with a metal attachment at one end and a leather grip at the other.
A course is laid out. A club is formed. An ancient clubhouse is built. The game takes root around the world.
There is inspiration to be found in the journey to learn and experience the roots of our treasured game of golf.
2. This is the world championship of golf.
Yes we have the other three major championships, commercial WGCs, and even golf in the Olympics in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, but the Open Championship has been being played for the last 150 years.
Yes the United States Open is open, but the Open has more qualifying sites around the world and attracts a more diverse field.
This is the golfing World Cup!
3. It is a treat to see the ABC/ESPN broadcast team in action.
This is the only PGA TOUR golf tournament that ABC does. Though its coverage is not necessarily better than that of CBS, NBC, or the Golf Channel, it is different in terms of the mix of talent, graphics, and features and in its approach of being live on the air for 11 hours straight.
I do miss Curtis Strange's commentary and just picked up a great golf tip from him. Speaking about Butch Harmon's thoughts about Phil Mickelson's lengthy swing, he said that the way to shorten a swing is to quiet the legs. For somebody like me with a Furyk-Daly original who does not know when to stop (even at a buffet bar) my backswing this could be an immensely valuable tip.
4. Where else can you see and hear Peter Alliss' commentary?
Most interesting and notable are his comments on the American golfers and the American-styled golf game and courses.
Here’s a guy who was born in 1931. His father Percy was a professional golfer on the European Tour before there was one in the 1920s. Talk about a link to the past.
Though never a major winner, this classic guy won his fair share of tournaments in his day. Since last competing in 1975, he's been a mainstay in the game for the last 35 years.
For the record, there is no golf course in the States like the Old Course at St. Andrews…though Shinnecock Hills, Bandon Dunes, Pebble Beach, and next month's host for the PGA Championship—Whistling Straits—are pretty darn good golf courses on their own merits.
5. The weather!
Gusty 50 mph winds on Sunday, a rainout on Wednesday, gorgeous weather for the first round on Thursday, and now a wind delay under sunny skies on Friday.
A golfer gets all types of weather at St. Andrews and then some.
Remember no wind, no golf?
Of course, the player's reaction to the weather as well as his strategy, skill, and determination will determine the "Champion Golfer of the Year" in a manner, as Jim Nantz would say, "like no other".
Real golfers embrace weather extremities.
Playing golf on a cool but snowless day in January in Chicagoland makes one a real golfer.
6. The differences in tournament operations and setup.
Where else can you see the old manual yellow scoreboards and grandstands that are indeed grand?
Where else are there are striped flagsticks that no one who knows the history of golf would ever refer to as "pins?"
Where else do all the golfers go off the first tee only on Thursday and Friday?
Where else do you see the ESPN yardage guys with little GPS antennas on the fairways as players' drives roll to a stop? Is this a Skycaddie commercial or what?
The Open at St. Andrews is where both the heritage of golf and technology are embraced and celebrated.
7. Memories of the way it should be.
I have memories there of playing golf on the same links land with each of my sons.
I envision myself turning the corner and running up a few storefronts to the Quarto antiquarian bookstore to find my latest treasured acquisition.
It was the first time I ever had tomatoes with my eggs in the morning and a delicious bacon sandwich while standing at a bar and drinking Guinness in the evening.
St. Andrews, Scotland is a very, very special place!
8. The Old Course herself.
The Old Course herself in all her beauty.
As beautiful as the knowledge that time is endless for a golf course.
She is and will always be there for the game of golf to be played upon.
She's a woman who is vulnerable in her nakedness on a windless, dry, and warm day yet is also a temptress who destroys a golfer's good game and perhaps a bit of himself as well.
Whatever the mood of the ground course is, as one goes out and comes back, she is ever graceful.
9. Brilliant Competition.
This may very well be the coming-out party for Rory McIlroy—the ultimate debut in the world of golf.
Or it may be the ultimate comeback of Tiger Woods' career.
Or another golfer may rise to the top, as Stewart Cink did last year in the Open at Turnberry.
Either way, it will be a riveting finish come Sunday afternoon!
10. I wake up, turn on the TV, and see live golf from the Open at St. Andrews.
It really does not get any better than this!
For me, it is a real treat to be able to sit back (or lie down and be a couch potato for a change) and watch the broadcast. When I am on course, I am usually tasked to do other things like watch golf or help the talent do their jobs.
It is fun to be the viewer and see the entirety of the Open at St. Andrews through the wonder of television.
P.S. It is on the Internet live at www.ESPN.go.com
Maybe I did save the best for last?
Good living, good golfing, and outstanding Open-viewing my friends…
Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer. He follows the PGA TOUR volunteering and working part-time for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and The Golf Channel.
He resides in Jacksonville Beach, Florida near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.
He enjoys pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it. He can be reached through his website
www.MrHickoryGolf.net or by e-mailing him at