The West Sands At St Andrews

Too many of us don’t practice. Well there’s nothing new in that statement. In fact if the truth be known many of us don’t enjoy practicing, don’t know what to practice correctly, can’t find the time to practice or simply would rather do something else. Regardless you will still hear golfers moan about their performance and swear next time they play they will at least get to the club forty minutes earlier to cram in a little practice. Unfortunately when the time comes the reality of putting the extra practice in isn’t too appealing compared to leisurely making your way to the first tee after a coffee in the clubhouse!

Watching the pros practice is another thing altogether. You can sit back admire and pretend that some how next time you will recreate the swings you are watching.

I really like to watch the pros practice, particularly Tiger Woods. No surprises there, who doesn’t want to want the number one in any sport perfect their art!

During the 2005 Open Championship at St Andrews I took much delight in watching Woods practice his putting stroke. He would line up about six foot from the hole on the practice green and place the ball between two tees. The tees were just a touch wider than the width of his putter. Like a robot he would putt five balls one handed into the hole, where upon his caddie Steve Williams would roll them back for another five putts. This seemed to go on for ever, and I stopped counting after about two hundred. It was like watching a machine. Though the machine would switch on and off, a fellow pro would come over for a chat – but then Tiger would resume putting without missing or seemingly lose any hint of concentration.

I took many photographs during the whole Open week, but I particularly like this one of Tiger practicing with the West Sands in the background. At the time I was living in Surrey about 460 miles away, but do remember thinking sooner or later I had to move to this beautiful part of Scotland.

The West Sands, is a glorious stretch of beach, famed for its appearance in the opening scene from the movie “Chariots of Fire” . You may remember the movie shows the British Olympic team training, though film buffs will be quick to point out that the credits are incorrectly given to Broadstairs beach in Kent.

The estuary of the river Eden lies at the northern end of the beach, where once there was a shipping port. Some say this is where the term “links” comes from, because the port was linked to the town at its Southern end. This may be so, but more over the term “links” was used to describe the areas of coastal sand dunes between the sea and farmland, that were not good enough for farming.

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