For the ultra-keen golfer, a visit to St. Andrews is a quintessential ‘must do’ undertaking. Though for those of us who have stood at the back of the first tee or 18th green at the Old Course, there’s nothing to remind you of the full history that has unfolded over the 18 holes laid-out in front of you.
Who is aware when the first Open was played at St. Andrews in 1873 and also, how many times has the Old Course hosted golf’s oldest major?
You could walk into the little café just off the right of the first tee and admire the wonderful photographs adorning the walls of former St. Andrews Open winners such as Seve, Peter Thomson and Tiger Woods. Lacking is a standout ‘item’ where visitors the world over can stand to admire the names of all 29 winners of an Open Championship that has been staged at the famed Home of Golf.
Rusacks Hotel, laid-out alongside the 18th fairway at the Old Course, is correcting this after being afforded permission to build an Open Championship ‘Champions Walk’ but only after fighting notorious Fife Council for permission. The hotel, first built in 1887, is presently in the later stages of a multi-million Pound extension to the former carpark area of the hotel.
The ‘walk’ will be an array of bronze plaques laid out on a walkway in front of the new extension with each of the 25 plaques to be embossed with the name of the Open Champion. At this stage, there will be 25 plaques given five of the 29 Old Course winners won The Open twice at St. Andrews. They include: Bob Martin (1876 & 1885), J H Taylor (1985 & 1900), James Braid (1905 & 1910), Jack Nicklaus (1970 & 1978) and Tiger Woods (2000 & 2005).
Other winners of The Open at St. Andrews, since a first in 1873, include: Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, John Daly, Louis Oosthuizen and more recently Zach Johnson in 2015.
Each plaque will be produced in bronze by Nairn firm Black Isle Bronze, with The Open winners’ names surrounded by a hexagonal pattern reminiscent of the dimples on a golf ball. The pavement will create a walkway along part of ‘The Links’, which is largely bereft of pedestrian-friendly paths. While the hotel has listened to council roads officers’ concerns about safety, they say any pavement is better than none at all, even with the influx of tourists the walk of fame will encourage.
“It is worth emphasising that there is currently no footpath whatsoever along The Links and therefore its introduction with or without the plaques can only improve pedestrian safety,” said a hotel representative.
Rusacks is undertaking, what will be a time-forever reminder of the St. Andrews Open winners, also as part of the 150th Open Championship anniversary to take place next year at St. Andrews.