If there was any one assembly, however, that epitomized the occasion, it was the cocktail party held two evenings before the start of the tournament in the Long Room of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. The classic Old Course (and the three other 18-hole courses) occupy a large thumb of dune land at the foot of the slope up to the spired town. Just behind the first tee of the Old Course (and adjacent to its 18th green) stands the R and A's stately, sturdy clubhouse, a weather-beaten mass of granite whose general contours are familiar to golfers the world over. The famous big window of the clubhouse, a bay of eight tall, oblong windows, looks out on the course from the Long Room, so called because it is some 60 feet or so in length. Along the room's high walls (and above the periphery of ancient wooden lockers), oil paintings of distinguished golfers and R and A figures look down—Freddy Tait, old Tom Morris, Hugh Lyon Playfair, the Prince of Wales in a dashing 1920s outfit, to name only a few.
The big room was jammed for the party, and the waiters ferrying the champagne could hardly circulate. Everyone was there. Those whose wives were with them in Scotland brought them along to the party, which is notable since only once before in the long ascetic history of the R and A have women been allowed inside the clubhouse. (Somewhat tardily the British are beginning to agree that such latitude really doesn't damage the pleasures of golf.) People of all colors were at the party, raising their voices above the din in a variety of languages. It was a memorable sight and a memorable sound. More than a few of the people present had been looking forward to this evening for months—and now they were there, right in the middle of it. It stirred a number of them to state, directly, what was on their minds. "The world is a little crazy," one of the British hosts declared, quite typically, as he stood talking with Mrs. Charley Coe and Prince Ruspoli, a good golfer from Italy. "Shooting on Cyprus. Shooting over Quemoy. Shooting in Algeria. Trouble in Little Rock, trouble in South Africa, trouble in the Near East, and heaven knows where else. And, when you look around this room, heaven knows why."
He paused a moment. "I am not so foolish," he added, "to think as some do that meetings like this can solve all international problems, but they certainly must help or else there is no sense in anything."
A RICH, FULL LIFE
There were several other assemblies during the week that will be long remembered by those fortunate enough to attend them. They were held to honor Robert Tyre Jones Jr., the truly immortal Bobby, who had come over to captain the American team. It was his first visit to St. Andrews since 1936 when he had sneaked into town, he thought, to play a quiet round and found 2,000 townspeople waiting for him at the first tee. Before he had finished his round, the whole town had come down to the links and was following him. This quite unique love affair between an athlete and a town—and a foreign town to boot—did not "take" in 1921 on Bobby's first visit to St. Andrews, when he could not get along with the Old Course and picked up in the middle of the British Open. But he came back for Walker Cup matches, and he came back in 1927 to win the British Open on the Old Course with a record-breaking score, and it was on the Old Course in 1930 that he won the British Amateur and was started on his grand slam. And during these visits an affection and mutual respect grew up between Jones and the golf-wise people of St. Andrews that has never died. Perhaps they love Bobby even better in St. Andrews than they do in Atlanta, and if you think this is going too far, do not be too sure.
In any event, there was one grand evening, a team dinner in the Borough Hall, and whenever Bobby's team was mentioned in one of the speeches, every St. Andrean jumped to his feet and roared his affection for his dream-golfer and old friend. Later in the week at another assembly in the Younger Hall auditorium Bob was made an honorary freeman of the Borough of St. Andrews, the first American to be so honored since Benjamin Franklin. (As you probably know by now, this allows him to take divots on the Old Course, to chase rabbits there, and to dry his laundry on the first and 18th fairways.) It would be wonderful to be able to present the complete transcript of the ceremony that night, and worthwhile to do so. That is out of the question, though, and so we must limit ourselves to a few of the meaningful remarks Bob Jones made in reply to the provost's graceful address in which (with the packed galleries of Scots stamping and shouting their endorsement) he was saluted as "the most distinguished golfer of this age...I might say, of all times." Bobby spoke for 10 minutes, beautifully and movingly. He told his friends in the audience, "You people have a sensitivity and an ability to extend cordiality in ingenious ways." He said of the Old Course, "The more you study it, the more you love it, and the more you love it, the more you study it." He said near the end of his talk, "I could take out of my life everything except my experiences at St. Andrews and I'd still have a rich, full life." He left the stage and got into his electric golf cart. As he directed it down the center aisle to leave, the whole hall spontaneously burst into the old Scottish song, Will Ye No' Come Back Again? So honestly heartfelt was this reunion for Bobby Jones and the people of St. Andrews (and for everyone) that it was 10 minutes before many who attended were able to speak again with a tranquil voice.
It was a great week at St. Andrews, and I think it will always be a great week whenever this biennial championship is held. It is off to a superlative start. The format of the tournament, as we know now, makes for an exciting match. And though it is quite unnecessary to mount the speakers' platform and speak of the international spirit which prevails, and its importance, that spirit is there with bells on.