To most who hear the name St. Andrews, the immediate association is golf. The town itself can hardly be separated from the game, as much of St. Andrews is owned by the Links Trust, which operate the seven golf courses. With such a pervasive undercurrent of golf culture swirling through the town, it is no surprise that the University’s golf teams are comprised of incredibly talented players.
The ladies’ golf club made their season debut not long ago. Last Sunday, October 10, the University women’s golf team faced off against the women’s golf team from Edinburgh University.
As it was the first match of the season, there was great anticipation to compete against a rival Scottish university. Their matches were formatted in a style known as alternate shot. Both girls tee off, then choose which ball to play in for the rest of the hole. If the pair decides to play tee shot number one, then player number two hits the next shot, and it continues in that way trying to get to the hole in the lowest number of shots possible.
Alternate shot is a fun way to play golf, as it allows the partners to feed off each other and gain momentum from well-played shots.
When a shot does not go exactly as planned, the girls have their partner there beside them to boost their energy, remind them to shake it off, and focus on the next shot.
The team decided to pair up in order of handicap, from +1 to 3. With such a narrow spread, all the girls are similar in ability, so it is more about finding the right pairings to compliment playing style.
Fourth-year team captain, Georgina Hirst, explains this by saying that “[her partner Josie’s] drives were amazing that day, so nearly every hole we took her drive, then I’d hit the second shot, which worked really well as my long approach shots are the strength of my game.”
The girls lucked out, as it did not rain, though there was a bit of wind, which added to the challenge of the match. In photos, the day looks stunning, with blue skies and puffy, white clouds, however, it was quite cold and windy.
In Scotland, golfers need to be able to play well in any conditions, especially the cold and the wind, as winter approaches. A definite perk of joining the golf programme at St. Andrews is their ability to explore Scotland and some of its most beautiful landscapes, golf courses, not unlike Gullane, where the ladies’ first match of the season was held.
A team of eight, the women’s golf club at St. Andrews is a tight-knit group. Unlike some of the other sports teams at the University, the golf club has only one competing team.
With less than ten players, the golf team highlights the competitive nature of the sport in the town aptly dubbed ‘The Home of Golf’. The small size of the team allows the girls to truly foster deep connections with one another off the course, while pushing one another to hone their on-course skills together.
Before the match, the girls went out to Balgove Larder for a team dinner, an example of how they choose to spend time with one another to improve team morale and deepen their friendships.
While the competing team is a small one, most students can vouch for the golf club as being an inclusive, fun University sports club. Their socials are widely attended by plenty of students, many not part of the golf team, and by some who do not even play golf. This really echoes the feeling that golf is everywhere in St. Andrews. The famous links certainly attracted some students’ applications, but for much of the student body, golf was not on their radar when applying.
For a town so richly steeped in the history of sport, it is refreshing that golf, the student teams, and the University’s golf club can create such an incredibly inclusive and fun environment for anyone and everyone, regardless of golf experience, or level of interest in the game.
As for the women’s competitive golf team, they won their first match of the season against Edinburgh University’s women’s team.
The team’s captain, fourth year Georgina Hirst, commented: “The match was actually really funny as so much went wrong, but we all had such a great day despite that!” Of course, even if not everything went to plan, it does not hurt that in the end, the Saints emerged victorious.