St. Andrews New
"How did you enjoy your round on the New?" asked the Golf Assistant, as he marshalled walkers across the Old Course's first and 18th holes.
The answer was that we admired the layout and played some remarkably decent golf but, boy, was it hectic.
We knew that St. Andrews was golf's Mecca but we hadn't any notion that it would be this busy or that four of its courses were on such a small tract of land.
Arrival here sets the tone - a crawl through the town before turning into an enormous car park for players on the Old, New, Jubilee and Himalayas.
The latter is only a pitch and putt but attracts huge numbers and all of the main courses were fully booked up.
So, standing on the New's putting green, listening to a tourist guide's patter from the roof of the pavilion, alongside people teeing off, folk playing on the adjacent Old and families whooping on the Himalayas felt akin to a golfing Piccadilly Circus.
My distraction became full-blown astonishment when I watched Mrs W chipping on what she thought was the practice area but was, in fact, the 18th green!
Players on the fairway stood dumbfounded as she merrily clipped a couple of balls towards the flag she realised her error and later apologised with red face.
The chaotic theme was maintained once play had begun with the occasional ball drifting onto our hole from either the Old or the Jubilee. Indeed, we had reached the 15th on the New before we reached tranquillity.
And the rounds at St. Andrews are long. It took us five hours to play the New but, thankfully, the weather was kind and we could take in the intoxicating scenery while I was having one of the rounds of my life.
Yes, I managed to ignore the hubbub and, from the opening drive on the first hole, I was synched into the New.
Many times I have been told that this is a sterner test of its much more famous neighbour, the hope of the Open.
However, it is not as long as many links and, with calm decision-making, opportunities to score are plentiful. I suspect I may have reported differently if the wind had been up.
The first hole is a gentle introduction at 287 yards, defended only by a grassy mound in the centre of the fairway and deep-set greenside bunkers, typical of the seaside.
The over-ambitious on the New could find themselves in the pretty but lethal yellow gorse or the fearsome fairway sand traps which punctuate it.
Its second hole has both in abundance but I nearly nabbed a birdie by adhering to my plan.
However, the par-threes sidetracked my charge towards glory. For example, the fifth looks straightforward enough but has a false front to its green down which short hits will fall and bushes and rough to the back..
Classic links play is required on the eighth, a comparatively short, bending par-five with 13 bunkers.
If they can avoid sand, big hitters will certainly fancy reaching the green in two but it is guarded by dunes on either side of a narrow entrance and has a heavily sloping putting surface.
Even a slightly misplaced shot can see the ball run on sidewards and culminate in a disappointing score.
If I thought the round would be as easy as hop, skip and jump, I was put right on the ninth, a 211-yard uphill par-three with water beyond out-of-bounds to the left and bushes and rough to the right.
With a devilish ridge in front of a hollowed green, even a bogey would be worth celebrating.
The back nine on the New includes some different dimensions, including a blind tee shot on the 10th, a 445-yard par-four that I was very pleased to reach in two.
We had the ever-so-slight distraction of our daughter calling us to say she was due to be induced with our first grandchild but regathered ourselves for the next par-three on the 13th.
Thus, despite dire warnings only to be allowed through if waved by the folk on the 14th tee, both Mrs W and I found ourselves beyond the false front, pin-high, putting for birdies. Inevitably, we both had to settle for pars.
Our progress continued up the 15th, a par-four with threatening gorse bushes en route. Such was the excellence of Mrs W's approach that she earned applause from the adjoining third green.
This sparked me into life and I followed a par on the 16th with a heck of a pleasing knock into the 202-yard, par-three 17th, past the deep bunker on the right-hand side of the green and just missed my birdie.
I was even closer on the 18th, a truly handsome home hole, flushing a three-wood into the green. One would have expected Mrs W. to be equally proficient given her earlier experience of it.
I can't depart without mentioning St Andrews' giant crows. They are Hitchcockian thieves who will dive into golf bags on the scavenge.
Don't leave any pockets unzipped, otherwise food will surely disappear.