Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Course Record At St. Andrews

This story about back-to-back U.S. Open golf champion Curtis Strange won't be for you if you're not into golf. Read some of my joke pages instead. -- D.H.

A few years ago I covered the Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic at Kingsmill in Williamsburg, Virginia for a local radio station. One such year during lunch I was sitting with a pleasant gentleman who turned out to be Bill Neal, stepfather of feisty two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange, the touring pro and tournament host at Kingsmill.

Bill Neal worked as calligrapher for the leaderboard down in in the Press Room with me and I had already been impressed by how likeable he was. We started talking and he told me this story:

Several months earlier he and a group of friends had flown to the birthplace of golf, fabled St. Andrews Royal and Ancient Golf Club in Scotland, where his famous stepson had recently broken the over 200-year-old course record. Bill couldn't wait to play the course for himself.

St. Andrews golfLed by their trusty Old Course caddies, Bill and his friends played well in the chilly summer breeze that bathed the links from the North Sea, enjoying the ambiance and the culture of their medieval surroundings. The group had heard many jokes about the legendary Old Course caddies who were said to have a cynical talent for poking fun at the mistakes of any duffer who crossed them with unthoughtful play or comments, so the Americans played carefully and were careful in what they said.

At the end of the round while they were putting the clubs away and tipping the caddies Bill couldn't help bragging, just a little. He mentioned to his caddy that his stepson Curtis Strange had recently broken the St. Andrews course record with a 62.

Unimpressed, the caddy barely looked up as he mumbled, "Aye? Th' wind must nae ha' been blowin'".

-- Dalton Hammond

My Other Golf Stories

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