Book Review: Searching in St. Andrews

Sean Zak is a multimedia sports journalist – a senior writer for GOLF magazine and, who lives in Chicago, and during the Windy City’s chilly month of November, 2021 decided to undertake a 2022 journey overseas to St. Andrews, Scotland to spend the summer months discovering golf’s true essence, hopeful it could redefine his relationship with the sport.

Much to his delight, and totaling much more than just a smattering, Sean found golf’s true essence everywhere in Scotland: in the dirt, firm and proper – a sandy soil that you don’t see in America; he also found it in the traditions of the Scottish people who inherited the game from their grandparents, who inherited it from their grandparents.

Sean Zak

Sean Zak

Sean sets out from Chicago bringing only the essentials that could fit in one travel golf case, one suitcase and one backpack. The essentials being computer equipment, golf clubs, running shoes, and golf shoes, along with rain gear, some cold gear, a Nike golf cap gifted him by Scottie Scheffler and for some odd reason, shorts.

Little could Sean expect that the ninety days that he lived in Scotland searching for the meaning of golf would be spent during the game’s most turbulent summer. For Zak, his stay in St. Andrews produced the confluence of three memorable experiences: the playing of the 150th British Open Championship, the charm and hospitality of the (occasionally quirky) Scottish people, and the birth and formation of the LIV golf league.

And it is the telling of this trio of experiences that Sean Zak weaves together in his book entitled “Searching in St. Andrews”. Written with heartfelt curiosity and charm, this is an essential portrait of golf amid the crosswinds of tradition, progress, and power.

My favorite ‘takeaway’ from this book are chapters two, “Where Am I, Exactly?” and three, “Getting Acquainted”. Sean stayed in a one-bedroom flat all summer long; for the equivalent of $1550 per month in rent he enjoyed 400 square feet of living space. There were some soothing words offered him by his St. Andrews’ landlady who stated that one of her neighbors rented her house to Tour winner Billy Horschel for $25,000 per week during The Open, but it was a five bedroom structure big enough for his entire family.

Sleeping on the Sidewalk at St. Andrews

Sleeping on the Sidewalk at St. Andrews

Adding to the interest, value, and appeal of this work, the author includes a set of color photographs illustrating a few nuances of St. Andrews. For example, camping out / sleeping on the sidewalk for a ‘draw’ to the play the Old Course; the variety of folks in the many groups enjoying the Himalayas Putting Course; and, dog walks and picnics on the Old Course on Sundays, when the course is closed.

Dog walks and picnics at St. Andrews

Dog walks and picnics at St. Andrews

In a review of this book, PGA Tour player, Joel Dahmen states “Sean’s writing is far better than his caddying skills. Let’s start with that. He…blurs the lines between journalist, writer, looper, and Guinness-drinker…One helluva journey.”

Searching in St. Andrews: Finding the Meaning of Golf During the Game’s Most Turbulent Summer” is published by Triumph Books LLC, Chicago Illinois; Hardcover ISBN 9781637273326; 277 pages; measures 6.25” x 9.25” x .875” and easily fits standard bookshelves, business attache cases, and backpacks.

“Searching in St. Andrews” is available at in hardcover and kindle formats. Also available at


Greg Miles

Greg Miles has been a writer following golf in Chicago since 1990. For the past 30 years he has been a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and currently is classified as a GWAA "Life Member". He played his first round of golf on his 11th birthday, and since then has played more than 7,300 rounds of golf in his lifetime at 517 different courses. He has interviewed more than 280 golfers across all the professional tours along with famous celebrity golfers. Additionally, he is a member of several other competitive and honorary golf associations, as well as the Golf Nut Society.

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