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Winning the Open

The 18th green of the Old Course has witnessed many dramatic conclusions to the British Open Golf Championship. Among the most memorable was the victory of the popular Spanish golfer Severiano Ballesteros in 1984. Ballesteros recalled that he enjoyed the deepest emotional experience of his entire golfing life when winning the championship at the home of golf. He birdied the 18th hole for 69, winning the contest by 2 strokes and celebrated victory with his now-famous fist pump. In the final round, Ballesteros was paired with the German golfer, Bernhard Langer who shared the runner-up position with the American, Tom Watson. Ballesteros died of brain cancer in 2011 at the age of 54.

The R&A organisation – which is distinct from the Royal and Ancient Golf Club whose clubhouse overlooks the Old Course – is also based in St Andrews, and is, jointly with the United States Golf Association, responsible for governing the game across the world. The rules of golf are issued from St Andrews in a multitude of languages, including those of over 20 European nationalities. Many of these are also available on a website or phone app – including the rules in Icelandic.

18th green with Royal and Ancient clubhouse

Although the modern game of golf is believed to have originated in Scotland, the word “golf” itself may be of Dutch origin. The term is possibly derived from the Dutch word “kolf”, the name of a game similar to golf played in the Low Countries during the late medieval period.

From Golf Place walk up The Scores and turn right into Murray Park, leading to North Street. On your left, before turning into Murray Park, is St James’s Roman Catholic Church where Polish soldiers attended mass during the Second World War. A short distance to your right along North Street affixed to the railings outside the Ardgowan Hotel are a pair of plaques, one in English the other in Polish, commemorating the work of Józef Stanisław Kozacki on mine-detection. Then follow North Street in the other direction leading to St Salvator’s Chapel.


18th green image © Paul Birrell, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons