I am a man named David Joy, a local citizen who dresses up like Old Tom Morris for tours and, once, a Titleist commercial. Golf is in my blood. My father saw Bobby Jones win the British Amateur when his dad was 9, and three decades later, when I was 9, Dad took me to the town's farewell to a sick, feeble Jones. A circle. That's what this town is.
It's a winter night, and I'm sipping pints in the back room of a local pub, looking at black-and-white pictures. I'm telling stories, about Old and Young Tom. I'm keeping warm. Every now and then, I slip into the Old Tom character without meaning to, like when I saw a tourist at Young Tom's grave and cried as I narrated his tragic death. The emotion in my words was real. This is serious to me. I refuse to make a mockery of Old Tom's memory.
Sometimes, it seems like make-believe characters will one day be the only thing left here. So much has been lost already. Ancient buildings torn down, replaced by the flats at West Port or the University's Gannochy House. Blue-collar folks are gone. Locals are getting priced out. Investment bankers buy up all the real estate. I used to apologize for being only the fourth generation of St. Andrean Joys. Now? I brag about it. That's happened only in the past 30 years. It's scary. If the bones of an apostle can be destroyed, how can a town and its golf course be immortal? The town survived the bloody Reformation and 300 dormant years. It survived failure, but can it survive success?
I look outside, see the wind rushing from the sea through the streets. It's November, and the town is empty this time of year. Thank God for the hostile winters, I think from the warm amber light of the pub, lest we become the Disneyland of golf.
I believe St. Andrews will continue. I believe the town will not lose its ability to change those who come here, and I believe as long as it keeps that spark safe, the town itself will not be changed. The walls and streets still pulse with ghosts and their stories, as they've done for a thousand years. I still play golf with my teenage son on the Old Course every year on his birthday, and I hope he will bring his son here, too, one more turn of an ancient circle.