St. Andrews

Must Try

Greetings from St. Andrews, Scotland

Before I get into the thick of my trip, I need to make one thing perfectly clear: Even though I am visiting St. Andrews — the birthplace of golf — I have absolutely no intention of swinging a single club during my week in Scotland. Sacrilegious as this may seem, golf is not for me.

But, honestly, I don’t even qualify as a duffer — even though I’ve been assigned a delightful room with a bird’s-eye view of the famous links’ 17th hole (known as the Road Hole) inside the Old Course Hotel, Golf Course & Spa. So, in a way, I am in the game — and without so much as chunking even one divot out of this hallowed course.

Then, too, from my balcony, I can see the Fife coastline, the familiar background for the recognizable Swilkin Bridge, an ancient stone span traversed by every golf great I can think of, from Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods. As is tradition, new players snap photos of each other there, proof they have completed a round at St. Andrews.

I guess I won’t be crossing that bridge.

Instead, my focus will continue to be on the castle-like, five-star Old Course Hotel with its newly renovated accommodations. The current owners, the Wisconsin-based Kohler Company, brought their guest rooms into the 21st century with such up-to-the-minute infusions as chromatherapy tubs and handsome, one-of-a-kind, ceramic basins — all looking like they’ve leapt from the pages of Architectural Digest. The same goes for the dazzling bedrooms with red-and-white striped wallpaper, privacy curtains, and upholstered chairs. My favorite furnishings are the sleigh beds, one of which cradled me into last night’s deep sleep.

Another reason I slept so well is probably thanks to yesterday’s session at the Kohler Spa, a sanctuary of regimes I was told are based on the theory of thassalotherapy — the therapeutic benefits of water. I understood once I set eyes on the overflowing infinity bath, the open-air pole showers, and the mesmerizing RiverBath waterfall.

My treatment of choice? Why, the Highland Fling, of course. During this extensive experience, I was covered in finely ground, mint-scented coffee, and then drenched by spine-tingling Vichy showers that traversed my entire body to exfoliate and rejuvenate. I felt as good as the taste of a decaf iced latte.

I could go on forever about this place, since there’s so much to enjoy about the Old Course. The Conservatory is perfect for High Tea, heralding all kinds of brews, including chocolate. The Jigger Inn pub is another Old Course mainstay for a Scotch and some lively conversation. Open hearths sizzled yesterday while a bunch of us Americans took on a rowdy discussion with a few Scots about U.S. politics, all in good spirits (the Scotch always helps).

Even with all these delightful adventures to keep me busy, I have been fighting back the urge (or is that a sense of obligation?) to partake of St. Andrews’s sport du jour. Finally, I caved in, making an appointment with the resident PGA pro. However, this decision does require a confession. You see, rather than hitting the links, this great Scot golfer and I hit the Duke’s Course Clubhouse restaurant, where I had a terrific time learning about a fascinating game I would probably never play — all the while dining on fish and chips the scrumptious like of which I will probably never consume again.

All in all, short of meeting the Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, I don’t think I missed a single marvelous experience in St. Andrews, the gateway to the Highlands. But who knows? That illusive creature may just turn up — and if she does, she can have my golf club.

My very best,
Jane Lasky