On Sundays, The Old Course at St. Andrews to the dog park

Ziggy, named after David Bowie, enjoyed his time on the 15th Green Sunday.

Shawn Zack

Street. Andrews, Scotland – One of the polarizing sides of old cycle is that it is very flat. Flat courses are not great for watching golf tournaments! The Links Trust has built hills in the past few years to help golf watchers. But on this particular Sunday, that flatness is welcome.

I can see hundreds of yards, unoccupied, and at the moment, there are eight dogs in range, roaming around the property. Behind me, there is another handful, barking loudly enough to be heard above the gigantic amphitheater construction.

One of the dogs behind me, a black bulldog named Kato, was having fun around the seventeenth green, but only passed over the Suilkan Bridge, cutting into Aziza’s photo. “Get down here, Kato,” said his owner. “This is a very special bridge, Kato.”

It’s a private bridge, kato, but that’s how Sundays go in the old court, where the dogs run free and their respectful owners prevent them from causing too much trouble. Spread over 45 acres, The Old Sunday Course is easily among the largest dog parks in the world. The only rules are clear: 1. Please pick up your four-legged friend. 2. Please keep away from greens. (The latter is only loosely followed.)

It was in the 15th green where I found Ziggy the two-year-old beagle, who was named after David Bowie for his blue eyes and brown eyes. Ziggy had just taken a quick lead from a pair of curvy greyhounds—George and Bingley—and got dumped. So Ziggy sat there on the edge of the green, where a famous golfer would be putting up a birdie in three weeks, ignoring the calls of his owners. Ziggy loves to visit the old stadium, but fortunately there is a duel with the upcoming tournament. Because Ziggy cared about driving, in the past, that’s more serious.

In the end, Ziggy turned around to catch up with his mom and dad. Golfers know the rally went out and back in St Andrews, three miles in total. It follows the shape of a shallow fish hook, providing endless opportunity for convergence.

In a few weeks, those stands will be filled along tee number 16. Until then, Ziggy the Beagle and George the Greyhound are having fun.

Shawn Zack

Jeff Shackleford got it right when List his 3 criteria for a great golf course:

1. Do you want to play this course every day?

2. When you leave this course, can you remember every hole?

3. Is it a place where you want to take your dog for a walk?

The Old is clearly checking the box, but differently than its American counterparts. In the United States, these days are not possible, because in America we live in great abundance. We love the Sunday rides, and we like our green courses as much as possible, relaxed and soft, so we can spin our wedge shots backwards on the green. Dogs shred this grass, so keep it on a leash. Here in Scotland, where Mother Nature only waters the lawn, leashes are only a suggestion. The ground here is solid under the claws of dogs.

All of this is possible because it was decided hundreds of years ago that there would be no golf on Sundays. He went against religion. While the courses open to St. Andrews Links’s six other doors are open on Sundays, the Old School is almost always closed, except for special events like the Links Trust Amateur earlier this month or, say, when Tiger Woods and the boys come to town in July.

Right now, it’s Ziggy Turfdust and several friends he crosses paths with: Hamish the West Highland terrier, Bailey the lhasa apso, Ava the cockapoo and Indi the Golden Doodle. The owners are all locals, with afternoon plans to visit the Jigger Inn, the pub that stands facing the 17th hole.

But St. Andrews on Sundays attract dog owners from afar, too. The parents of the two working servile English Finns were in town on vacation, up from southwest England. Finn was invited to join because, well, “there are great places to get around here in Scotland”. West Sands Beach is the main competitor to the Old. Harris, a mix of lhasa apso-bichon frize, was in town from Dundee, just 13 miles away. It is named after the Scottish island off the west coast. “If you want to see the beaches of the Bahamas but with a Scottish climate [the Isle of Harris] Its owner, Julie Ann Alexander, said as she shot a tennis ball with a “Chucket!” Stick. Harris’ father, Kevin, is an avid golfer who plays at Carnoustie, and was less focused on the dog, and more interested in the shape of the greens before The Open. But he had the right to do whatever he wanted. It was Father’s Day, after all, and his son was waiting for his parents for lunch at Jigger’s.

8-year-old Hamish and her owner hail from western Scotland.

Shawn Zack

At about that time, a 10-year-old cocker spaniel named Maisie sat on the steps beside the 18th green. This was her first time walking the old track. “She’s beautiful,” said her owner, Isobel Dallas, as he caressed Maisie’s long, hairy ears. Maisie actually ran the course, and looked forward to it just as golfers do the other six days of the week. When she got up to leave, a shepherd sprang up from in front of her, chaining those steps—like a golfer too—leashed, ready to take on The Old.

I got an idea for summer in scotland a story? – I’ll hear them all! Just send a note to sean.zak@golf.com.