The first thing that comes to mind when someone hears of St Andrews can vary quite a bit. Whether one jumps to its university, renowned for academic excellence, or to its rich history set in stone by the Cathedral and other pieces of architecture, our small coastal town has made its way into the minds of people all over the world. But for some people, instead of being a university town or a historical hotspot, the most important thing about St Andrews is golf.
The Old Course at St Andrews possesses as much history as the Cathedral or Castle for some folks. The oldest golf course in the world, it has evolved into a near-mythic pilgrimage site for lovers of the game. Dating before 1574, the Old Course is not quite as old as the university but adds to the great history of the town. It sits right beside the university’s campus, which is a scenic luxury for students.
Like many things between the UK and the USA, there has been a cultural exchange, with a bit of an innovative flare on the latter’s side. While golfing in St Andrews usually entails an expensive round of golf, some drinks at local pubs, and a fair bit of wind blowing the ball off course, William & Mary has transformed the sport into a laughable, big-hearted charity event.
Campus Golf is hosted by Kappa Delta, a sorority at William & Mary. An annual event, it entices more than just members of Greek life to participate. The money students pay to participate goes to charities of KD’s choice, making this beloved tradition a charitable event.
On the day of campus golf (with tee-times starting early in the day and late in the afternoon) golf balls are replaced with tennis balls, and no inch of green along the Sunken Gardens is dug to create holes. Instead, buckets mark the end of one hole. These wrap around Old Campus, so that students are able to get a wonderful mid-game picture in front of the historic Wren Building [pictured right, spring 2017].
What may be similar between golfing at St Andrews and at William & Mary is the role some casual drinking, great pals, and heavy laughter plays into the game. No matter where you are, golf makes for a day of competitive fun.
Through this single event alone, we can see a difference between the experience one may have at St Andrews in contrast to William & Mary. St Andrews may have a mini-golf course that might incline more students to play than a round at the Old Course, but it has no equivalent to Campus Golf. Likewise, we can compare St Andrews’ Polo, for which William & Mary does not have an alternative, as a one-of-a-kind opportunity offered by our university.
Differences like these are a prime example of how the Joint Degree Programme provides an exceptional educational opportunity, and a life opportunity, where students are allowed to participate in two different university cultures and norms. Whether walking along West Sands to catch a glimpse of the Old Course or swinging at a tennis ball with all your might on the Sunken Gardens, students in the JDP can experience both through the course of their undergraduate years.