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The 'Kilted Caddie' has moved to St Andrews

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AFP THE KILTED CADDIE CGTheolluf b Keith McLaren – aka ‘The Kilted Caddie’ – has moved to St Andrews and is in need of a good club to join. Not too difficult a task, you might think … after all, this is the Home of Golf. But is it so? 50 HK GOLFER・JUL 2016 HKGOLFER.COM HKGOLFER.COM The Clubhouse of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews HK GOLFER・JUL 2016 51

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Anyway, I like the St Andrews Club and I’ve got an application to join. Its bi-centenary is in 2043 and I’m still in with a shout of being around then. The understated entrance to the St Andrews Golf Club (top); the famous Hell Bunker on the 14th hole of the Old Course (opposite) I love the institution of the golf club and all that it entails. I now live in in the Home of Golf and have the choice of joining the New Club or the St Andrews Club. I am not in a position to get an application form for The R&A, because they don’t have one. It is a rather more obscure process there, whereby you are ‘put up’, and have to be nominated by rather more members (eight, I believe) than I have the fortune of knowing. I understand your name is then hung out on a list, whereby the members have a chance to throw dirt at you, in effect. Apparently, that chap, Sir Fred Goodwin, got removed that way. The lovely St Rule’s Club bars me from joining by default. It’s ladies only and so, unless they change their membership criteria, I’m unlikely ever to get in. Anyway, I like the St Andrews Club and I’ve got an application to join. Its bi-centenary is in 2043 and I’m still in with a shout of being around then. I only need two members to write a short script saying I’m a fairly decent bloke and then it’s under two hundred pounds [approximately HK$2,500] a year in subscription fees. I then get to lord it up in one of the most enviable locations in the world of golf – the St Andrews Club overlooks the 18th green of The Old Course. They have a highly subsidised bar and restaurant, accept visitors, do decent grub by all accounts, have dominoes nights, several snooker tables, hot running water and an outside private patio where I can sip Amarone and grow old (and become bronzed in the summer). I have heard it’s more of a down-to earthclub than the New just along the road. Not that I consider myself established as a ‘townie’ yet, but I do feel the St Andrews is more the place for me. Besides, its clubhouse is a mighty more handsome building and it has the aforementioned outside patio, which the New lacks. However, I have heard that the membership list is getting near to full so I’d better hurry. Now, that surprises me a lot. The fact that it’s not already full I mean. For somewhere that costs so little to join, that is situated within a whiff of the most famous closing hole in golf and which serves an allday breakfast for less than a fiver … even Mark Twain would have joined it. In Edinburgh a few years back it was a much different story. Notwithstanding the huge entrance fees being charged, the waiting lists for decent clubs were several years long. At my club, Mortonhall, we started charging one hundred and fifty pounds (non refundable) just to get on the waiting list. And after the wait there was a hefty joining fee. And look what happened at Wentworth after it was bought by its new Thai-Chinese owners, Reignwood. The annual fee is reputedly doubling to sixteen thousand pounds; but not only that: you have to chip in another one hundred thousand for a debenture. I gather it might be the case that if you’re over 75 a different rule applies, but I’m not sure. It’s likely that at that age you could well expire from a coronary, 52 HK GOLFER・JUL 2016 HKGOLFER.COM The angst, frustration and self-loathing that is commonplace in a round simply pale at the nineteenth in a good club. such are the sums involved. Wentworth does have signs emblazoned over the course saying ‘Members and Residents only’. So I suppose to secure a place you could fork out for a wee pad adjoining the property. Eleven million pounds is the starting price for a house there. But then you’re in. Stuff the debenture lark. Anyway, I’m going to act pretty swiftly with the old St Andrews Club application. I need to get into a club here soon. A major concern of mine is that there are very few eating establishments to my liking in town. This is surprising given the international reputation of the town. But the fact is they mostly seem to serve cheap burgers and oven chips, pretending it’s ‘gastro’ because they have dressed it with a slice of lettuce and a cherry tomato. Other places put candles on the table and serve anaemic looking pizza and think they can fleece you. St Andrews has unfortunately seen the influx of chain restaurants too: Nardinis, Prezzos and Toni Macaronis. Sorry but I don’t like Toni Macaronis. No, give me the nineteenth hole of a decent golf club any day – a hot shower, a game of dominos, a frame of snooker, a cheap pint and a decent meal; that’s what I’m looking for. A good and well-run club is very important and potentially life-saving (well, at least marriage-saving). For it is an antidote to the sometimes purgatorial game of golf. Yes, the angst and frustration and self-loathing that is commonplace in a round simply pale at the nineteenth in a good club, amidst the glow of camaraderie and the marvellous workings of ethanol. So it’s the marvellous St Andrews Golf Club for me, I hope. Now, who are the two ‘friends’ who are going to put me up? HKGOLFER.COM HK GOLFER・JUL 2016 53

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