The Old Course at St. Andrews is to golfers what St. Peter's is to Catholics or the Western Wall is to Jews: hallowed ground, the course every golfer longs to play - and master. In 1983 George Peper was playing the Old Course when he hit a slice so hideous that he never found the ball. But in looking for it, he came across a For Sale sign on a stone town house alongside the famed eighteenth hole. Two months later he and his wife, Libby, became the proud owners of 9A Gibson Place.
In 2003 Peper retired after twenty-five years as the editor in chief of Golf magazine. With the younger of their two sons off to college, the Pepers decided to sell their house in the United States and relocate temporarily to the town house in St. Andrews. And so they left for the land of golf - and single malt scotch, haggis, bagpipes, television licenses, and accents thicker than a North Sea fog. While Libby struggled with renovating an apartment that for years had been rented to students at the local university, George began his quest to break par on the Old Course.
Their new neighbors were friendly, helpful, charmingly eccentric, and always serious about golf. In no time George was welcomed into the local golf crowd, joining the likes of Gordon Murray, the man who knows everyone; Sir Michael Bonallack, Britain's premier amateur golfer of the last century; and Wee Raymond Gatherum, a magnificent shotmaker whose diminutive stature belies his skills.For anyone who has ever dreamed of playing the Old Course - and what golfer hasn't? - this book is the next best thing. And for those who have had that privilege, Two Years in St. Andrews will revive old memories and confirm Bobby Jones's tribute, "If I were to set down to play on one golf course for the remainder of my life, I should choose the Old Course at St. Andrews."
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Great story, shame about the accents!
Such a disappointment
I had read this book when it was published so I had certain expectations of it as an audio book.
The story itself is an account of George Paper's sojourn in the Auld Grey Toun, some of which affords insights into how an American views the Scots and the manner in which we play golf, but which in other areas evidences the Colonial's odd attraction to the eccentricities of the English middle to upper class which most Scots find ridiculous.
I doubt if Alistair Johnston, a senior executive at IMG would have appreciated being described in the book as a Celtic fan given that he was Chairman of the now defunct Glasgow Rangers in the the years leading up to their sale and eventual liquidation.
This has to be the worst attempt at mimicking the Scots accent since Brigadoon - cringeworthy throughout. What was even more irritating was the lack of research and preparedness put into the performance. e.g. Michael and Angela Bonallack while no doubt fine people and great ambassadors of the Scottish game are both English and speak with middle English accents although the narrator has them sounding like something from a fictitious Scottish Glen. Other characters sound like Scotty from Star Trek and indeed slip into a Holywood style Irish brogue from time to time. The correct pronunciation of Scottish place names simply requires a bit of preparation and thought.
- Lachie Mor