Old Course: The Best One-Liners
A wildly unscientific ranking of stellar (and cranky) St Andrews observations.
This started out as an exercise in compiling the best things ever said about the Old Course at St Andrews. But while sifting through the many books devoted to this remarkable place, I soon realized it’s the only one in golf supported by a treasure trove of one-liners.
After many meetings and intense Slack debates, The Quadrilateral team decided to pare this down to one-sentence quotes of note. Why 33? Merely the final number where my delete key stopped working. The one-line prerequisite meant cutting out all sorts of epic observations, but if you follow my Twitter account devoted to the daily quote, they’re all there or going up in the next two weeks.
Yes, I’m aware that a few of these are long sentences more than one-liners. They made it past the committee because they’re just too good to pass up.
A final note: the comments section here is available to nominate missed entries or debating the selections. I’m also cognizant of how few are by modern figures (I tried!). These are broken up with a few of my images from the digital era, which, I realize, makes no sense given that most of these were uttered long ago. But that’s more of a statement about the education system and copyright laws. I hope you enjoy this. Onward to The 150th we go!
Every opportunity is provided on the Old Course for bringing out the essentials of great golf. H.N. WETHERED and TOM SIMPSON
The Old Course at St Andrews rarely appeals at first sight, and it not infrequently takes years before scoffers succumb to its many virtues.
Where else in the world do we find a course to which all great players journey and where all ages and abilities meet and praise with equal fervor?
After my third or fourth round I was an eloquent admirer of the Old Course. GENE SARAZEN
Nature was its only architect; its design owed little to the hand of man and has stood the test of centuries, apart from occasional alterations as equipment became more powerful and sophisticated.
There is always a way at St Andrews, although it is not always the obvious way, and in trying to find it, there is more to be learned on this British course than in playing a hundred ordinary American golf courses.
Until you played it, St Andrews look like the sort of real estate you couldn’t give away. SAM SNEAD
One must take time to know the Old Course in all its moods.
If there is one part of the game not right, no matter how you try your hardest to protect it, the Old Course will find it. PETER THOMSON
The golfer who does not take himself a caddie at St Andrews denies himself the wine of the country. HERBERT WARREN WIND
The Old Course needs a dry clean and press. ED FURGOL
You must use something beside shots and clubs, playing St Andrews.
St Andrews yields nothing to power unless it be used with wisdom.
I doubt if even in a hundred years’ time a course will be made which has such interesting strategic problems and which creates such enduring and increasing pleasurable excitement and varied shots. ALISTER MACKENZIE
St Andrews is difficult, not because bunkers are placed to catch inaccurate shots, but because the result of a misadventure is to make the next shot infinitely more difficult than it would otherwise have been.
H.N. WETHERED and TOM SIMPSON
The Auld Lady can be as tantalizing as a beautiful woman, whose smile at once is a temptation and a snare, concealing heartbreak and frustration for some, joy and fulfillment for others, but possession only for the very fortunate few.
The reason the Road hole at St Andrews is the most difficult par 4 in the world is that it was designed as a par 5. BEN CRENSHAW
As the traveler approaches St Andrews everything indicates that golf is the business of the place. ANON.
There is nothing to do in St Andrews but play golf and bathe.
To most, the very name St Andrews calls to mind not a saint nor a city, nor a castle nor a University, but a beautiful stretch of green links with a little burn, which traps golf balls, and bunkers artfully planted to try the golfer’s soul. HORACE HUTCHINSON
It is a course which caters to a higher standard of golf than any one has attained today, and yet it is extremely pleasurable to the old gentleman who cannot drive a ball any further than a lusty youth could kick one. ALISTER MACKENZIE
Every golf course in the world owes something to the Old Course for, either by accident or design, it embodies every feature and architectural trick.
There is nothing new to say about St Andrews, just as there is nothing new to say about Shakespeare. PATRIC DICKINSON