Royal St. George's Perfect for Open

Royal St. George's Perfect for Open

You never fall out of love with your first girlfriend, not completely, and so it is with your first links course. She — do you remember when golfers, like Foreign Service offices speaking of far-away countries, gave courses the feminine pronoun treatment? — becomes part of you, part of your golfing education.

Royal St. George's, on a long stretch of linksland on the mellow Kentish coast, is a great, tough, gnarly, mean and unfair golf course. You wouldn't want a British Open played on any other sort of course, would you? St. Andrews, Troon, Royal Lytham: they're all pretty much the same way. It's been fair game to the diss Royal St. George's for years all because of one comment Jack Nicklaus can't even remember saying anymore. The Bear was once asked about his favorite Open courses. This was a hundred years ago. Big Jack said, and I'm paraphrasing, "I like them all, but I like them best from north to south."

By that he meant that the Old Course in St. Andrews, halfway up the East Coast of Scotland, was his favorite. (He conveniently forgot that Carnoustie is north of St. Andrews.) And that St. George's was his least favorite.

The great man is entitled to his opinion, of course, even when it's wrong. And just maybe Nicklaus's view is colored by the fact that he never won here, never remodeled the course, was never invited to join. (Don't feel too bad for him. He's a member at Augusta National and Muirfield Village, too.) Nicklaus played his first links golf at the other Muirfield, in suburban Edinburgh, and you're not going to do better than that, speaking of first girlfriends, links division.

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