George, The Jigger Challenge and The Road Hole

I was out again on The Old yesterday and I must admit to really enjoying caddying there. It has a sense of theatre and energy lacking in the other courses, not least for the sense of history and the perpetual flow of onlookers watching the first drives and the incoming few holes. It is really a part of the town and it puts an edge onto the players who are usually fulfilling a once in a lifetime ambition in playing here. It’s just a pity some of our more weathered caddies don’t always appreciate the significance of this moment to them.
We had a lovely group, two young lads Jason and Fraser up from Edinburgh, who were bustling with enthusiasm about playing the Old and a couple of nice gents from North Yorkshire, George and Ben. They were bemoaning the fact that their B and B in Murray Park had not welcomed them and they didn’t get breakfast before their early tee off on The Eden. I won’t say the number of the said Murray Park guesthouse but it wasn’t a full dozen and it rhymed with Srixon.
In addition they were lured into eating at the Dunvegan and were none too impressed by their ‘culinary experience’, which I sympathised with. Again it makes me wonder at the astonishing universal pull this establishment appears to have. Amazingly, it seems to have become as much of the St Andrews experience as playing The Old.
Anyway I had George’s bag who reminded me of George out of Three Men in a Boat. I don’t know how but I had bagged Jerome K Jerome’s creation. He looked wonderfully and affably English with genial eyes and smile and cap to boot. Eccentric looking and a caricature of good old fashioned Englishness.
He and Ben were into pet food and I’m thinking you could be into a lot worse things. However this doesn’t mean that you should eat at any old establishment in town. Reading into it I think they had a pretty impressive business going on.
The guys had a great match which went all the way to the 17th where George hit a shot which altered received wisdom and my opinion of the driving line down the iconic hole.
They had been joking about the ‘Jigger challenge’ whereby you have to quickly drop by the famous Jigger bar (adjacent to the fairway) off a good drive. The idea is to jump the wall and quickly order four pints and down them, before negotiating the hardest shot in golf into the notorious 17th green.
The guys decided to forgo the challenge and George’s said drive just missed the outside balcony to the bar on the top floor of the Old Course Hotel. It travelled parallel to it and went closely past every 3rd floor bedroom window looking onto the course. I suggested that he hit a provisional ball which he knocked into the hotel car park. Another provisional was hit well up into the rough on the left. However, George confidently walked up the side of the hotel for his first ball and indeed found it just in bounds, and well positioned I thought for a quick Jigger challenge, next to the beer garden. It was a massively impressive golf shot.
It rounded off a fun game with four really decent blokes who had a hugely enjoyable game of golf and showed there was a lot of mileage in The Auld Alliance yet.
However, I will now be very unsure in giving advice off the seventeenth tee on The Old. The line used to be the first ‘O’ in The Old Course Hotel sign but now I’m not sure.
Maybe the ‘aar’ inspired by a fine man called George.

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