As magnificent as St. Andrews was on Wednesday afternoon, that’s how difficult Carnoustie was on Thursday morning. The weather was dreary, the scenery was dreary and the course was completely unforgiving.My memories of that day include hitting my opening tee shot into the burn, grease footprints on the greens, squeezing my ball through Hogan`s Alley for my one par of the day and a series of 400+ yard par fours on the back nine dead into the wind. As a matter of fact, the course was so brutal on me that it wasn`t until my final approach at 18, when Rob and Chris reminded me of Van de Velde`s famous meltdown that I even remembered the historical significance of Carnoustie. Chris birdied 18 out of the green side bunker. I`d say that his impressions of the course were considerably better than my own.
From there we traveled to Kingsbairns for lunch and an afternoon round. The dreary weather followed us and we ended up playing in a fog so think you could barely see 200 yards in front of you.
Luckily, we were invited back a couple of days later to play in clear weather and thank goodness we were. Kingsbairns is spectacular. If Cruden Bay is a century old course that looks brand new, this was a course that was brand new but held up incredibly well compared to the classics I had been playing over the past two weeks.
The land purchased had originally been a flat farm. I would defy anyone to now be able to tell the difference between this piece of land and that which holds the older courses of St. Andrews.
Before our week was out we also played Crail, another classic seaside links that regulary holds qualifiers for the British Open.
Every hole at Crail is either etched along the shoreline of the sea or is within a three iron of the water. Like so many of the countries quirky courses holes run over top of each other so to play a safe round means watching your head in the fairway as tee shots fly over you like scuds.
We also played the Torrence Course at St. Andrews Bay, a modern course with very little to distinguish itself from so many others built in the past 20 years. Of note during that round was that we played with one of the club`s assistant pros who had played on Scotland`s national junior team. What made him stand apart from others was the fact that he had one arm! That`s right. Into his left arm he had fashioned a hose that he could stick the club into after giving the grip a lick. An odd site to be sure but his swing was flawless and he played a brilliant game.
Over two weeks in Scotland I played 23 rounds over some of the world`s greatest golf courses. I learned a few things about my game but even more about the history of the game. I came to not only appreciate but prefer links golf. And I ate way too many sausages for breakfast! Before boarding our plane home from Heathrow I picked up a copy of The Greatest Game Ever Played and devoured it page by page throughout the seven hour flight. This truly was a trip for the ages.
If you`re thinking about golfing in Scotland, book your trip immediately, with or without your friends. It is an experience that will enrich you life and your game!