It was my third time with the Auld Lady and definitely it was very different from the other two. On 2011 & 2012 I led a 32 golfers group with a guaranteed tee time know since long before the trip. But this time I was again leading a group but was not scheduled to play and as the trip was going on my chances were really very small. But the night before everything was set for the 12 customers so there was a window for a round. The thing is that I had no tee time and my only chance was to do the queue at 5am and that I only could play after 2pm. Once my turn came I got into the waiting list in the 16th position which was pretty good but my chances came down as I could not tee off before 2pm. Once my customers started their rounds a spot appeared but very strangely 3 R&A Members didn't show and as there was only 1 player ready we played in a twosome!!! This is sort of strange as there were not less than 35 people at the Old Pavillion at 6am and nobody was ready to tee off! So at 2pm sharp we started our round.
I feel that most of the readers of the reviews will have played the course or will be familiar with it, so there is no sense on detailing every hole (I feel I did it in my previous two reviews). It will also not be important how I played, although it will be nice to share I birdied 18th from 8 feet to make it an unbelievable end of the round, and scoring was decent despite tough conditions from 12th to 18th and a very disappointing double on 17th.
I feel this time the review should tee some new things found playing the course for the third time, not only spots or features of the course but also details that happen before or during the round and that have maybe changed since my round in 2012.
The first thing I noticed different is there is a nice lady on the first tee who welcomes you with a nice speech about what the Old Course means and how you should run your round. A bottle of water branded which I kept as a memory (empty of course!) and off to the course. I have to say I was again afraid to missing the ball!!!! This won't change every time you play the round, it is real pressure.
I played it with the same wind of 2012 which is downwind from 2 to 7 and again as everybody say danger is on the right, anything left will be safe. What I noticed is that with this wind holding the approach shots is difficult so you will always need to land the ball short and let her roll but it is tough to accomplish as we are used to hit high shots directly to the hole.
The other new thing from 2012 is that great food truck on 9th green which is very different from the small table they had some years ago. And a hot soup plus hot dog were very necessary to battle the cold and light rain.
In 2011 I was playing one of my best rounds ever and tripled 13th, bogeyed it on 2012 and finally could get my par this time holing a 30 footed putter. But it is not about me, it is about in my opinion the most underrated hole on the course which is not only great but also very tough into the wind. It is the toughest on the course together with 17th.
And about the Road Hole, into the wind it is a monster as in 2012 we could not get home in two shots. This time I had some moments to hit a shot from the road bunker and from the road, which I could not do in my previous visits. And 18th will always be a special moment: the driver, the bridge, the walk and shaking hands with your playing partners after more than a round of golf, a true golfer's experience.
The last new thing I saw as it was my first time on town on a Sunday is the course being a public park, everybody walking it and taking pictures with their families or dogs but also taking deep care of the course. It was nice.
My last thought is to tell you this is a must, not only because it is a great course but as a piece of history every golfer deserves to play it at least once. I am lucky enough to have played it 3 times already and will go back many more. And it always will be as special as the first time.
Date: August 17, 2016