A bulldog in Scotland

For Tony Parker, life in St. Andrews is more than par for the course

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A bulldog in Scotland

Photo by: Adam Sachs

For Tony Parker, life is grand.

Parker (AB ’90, MA ’92) is the 60-year-old curator of golf collections and the Lawrence Levy Golf Photographic Collection at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where he can immerse himself in his love of photography, history and golf.

The job took Parker from his deep Georgia roots and landed him in the birthplace of golf, his home just a short drive from the ancient town of St. Andrews and its famous courses where he spends as much of his free time as possible.

“A lot of friends tell me, ‘I hate you,’” Parker says.

He understands.

He went to St. Andrews in 1992 to study the history of Georgia settlement, which was thick with Scottish immigrants.

Upon receiving his doctorate from the University of St. Andrews, Parker donned the kilt given to him by his father-in-law and posed on the famous Swilcan Bridge on the Old Course’s 18th hole. He wore his commencement gown and held his diploma and a golf club.

It was just the beginning.

Soon Parker was director of the University of Dundee’s School of American Studies, which became the top-ranked program of its kind in the United Kingdom. He was twice presented to the queen and took early retirement in 2007.

When a golf photography exhibition came to St. Andrews University, he found a new career. The collection includes more than a half million photos taken between 1848 and 1993, including the first image of the Old Course snapped in 1848. There are original glass plate images of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, the most famous figures in Scottish golf history.

The Old Course, the most famous and historic 18 holes in the world, is Parker’s home course and he’s played it hundreds of times. He’s also a member at Kingsbarns down the road, a New Age classic.

If Parker has a regret, it’s that he didn’t buy a St. Andrews flat when he had the chance to scoop it up for 48,000 pounds (about $75,000). It’s now worth 350,000 pounds (about $547,000).

As much as he loves St. Andrews, he misses Georgia, particularly during football season. He wears something UGA related every day—a belt, a sweater or a necktie—and carries a UGA golf bag.

Parker still has property in Athens, where his family moved when he was 5. He plans to soon move back for football seasons. When fall ends, he’ll be back in St. Andrews where he has another two-plus years on his contract.

“I’ll probably work until they kick me out,” Parker says.

That would leave Parker even more time for golf in St. Andrews.

 

—Ron Green Jr., of Charlotte, is a writer for “Global Golf Post,” a digital weekly golf news publication.