As The Saint reported over spring break, St Andrews will be transformed from a small town on the east coast of Scotland to Mecca of the golfing world. During the summer months where hundreds of thousands of tourists will descend into eastern Fife to take up the place of ‘local annoyance’ that the students hold dearly to their hearts.
Off the back of The Saint’s revelations that the Open Championship, here again after five years, will turn St Andrews into the most secure seaside town in the world with security forces that make a maximum security prison resemble a toddler’s playpen, Bernie’s feature article details the lockdown that will occur and, to be honest, he’s probably not exaggerating – well, maybe about the wedding to Hugh Grant. He’s mine.
Like Bernie, I, too, am staying in St Andrews over the summer to work. Even though the town will play host to a myriad of tourists during the summer, there is one week that will be a special hell that only every server, chef, cleaner and bartender in this usually calm town will come to know. An infernal week of non-stop food and drink orders; also known as the Open, one of the oldest and most prestigious golfing championships around the world.
Even though it will be a hard week, where my feet will probably drop off from doing over 20,000 steps a day and my hair sporting a permanent kink from all the ponytails I’ll have to wear, I’m actually strangely excited about selling my soul to the Open for a week or so.
I think it’s mainly because the concept of ‘St Andrews in the summer’ is a lost legend, something of a myth for students here, akin to Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster conspiracy theorists. It’s talked about with hushed tones, but so rarely it is sighted first hand or even claimed to have been. We occupy this place for nine months of the year and then abandon it as soon as our pen hits the desk of the last exam. That’s leaves a tiny number of us up here and, depending on your perspective of staying outside of term time, I will be one of the lucky ones.
Lucky? Because, like the sightings of legendary beasts, I want to find out if the rumours are true and, also like Bernie, I will endeavour to bring you an exclusive, inside report on my findings after the Open has ended and my sanity can be (partly) restored. Let’s examine the main theories that we have at play here, the one that holds the most water and garners pretty much the same response when asked around. Will the golfers take over?
Well, leaving out the Open, still very much a definite yes. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks this, but I often forget that we happen to live coincidentally in not only a prestigious university town, but also one of the most revered golfing destination globally, where student flats are sought after with great ferocity to ensure a full 3 months stint at, not only the Old Course, but the various other world class golf courses around us (I hear flats can go for upwards of £5000 a week, especially during the Open). There’s a whole other side to this town that we forget about, that opens itself up to others.
On the other hand, one question which will always stir up controversy amongst those asked it… will St Andrews be warm…? I use the term very loosely, but I hardly think of these beautiful beaches we live so close to play host to anything other than mad runners, dedicated dog walkers and, on the rare sunny day, small groups of casual walkers, dressed in anything other than wellies and huge arctic coats.
I’m not expecting tropical temperatures, let’s not be crazy here! All I want to know is if I plan to spend my breaks on the beach reading a book or people watching, will I be doing it in shorts and a t-shirt getting my tan on (which I won’t anyway cause I’m about as able to tan as a rock) or, still, in my wellies and dressed for skiing, battling the wind not to turn the pages for me?
Either way, I am excited. It’s going to be bizarre, being up here working solidly and not having to worry about getting up for 9 ams hungover or handing in coursework, but rather about if my customers are happy and enjoying themselves during this great summer experience that St Andrews plays gracious host to every year and pulls off so well.
I’m strangely proud to be a part of that, even if that means I become one of those crazy conspiracy people, going on about how they’ve sighted Big Foot.