From Cruden Bay… and St. Andrews

Placeline: Cruden Bay.

Had the chance to play Cruden Bay for the second time today. Needless to say there was not a touch of disappointment in the course on my second tour. In fact, it fascinated even more. The best holes (the remarkable par three fourth, the all-world fifth and the tremendous 12th) are still amongst the greatest golf experiences I have had in my life. We played, for the second day in a row, in a four club wind, meaning I hit a 4-iron 145 yards into the green of the fourth (thank God it was playing forward).

We chose not to play Cruden again, instead heading down the coast and playing the terrific, and underrated, Montrose. Montrose is a relatively flat links that plays along a dune that runs the length of the beach. Once again, four clubs downwind and four club difference into the wind. That meant I hit more 3-irons than I have in my entire life. Nothing like hitting a full 3-iron 150 yards, but I’ve done it plenty in the last three days.

The highlight was heading to St. Andrews, checking into the hotel and meeting a friend who is a member of the R&A. The Old Course is closed for the Fall meetings, but my associate has managed to snag a time that will let us play tomorrow, which is amazing. It’ll be my third time around the course, which means I only need a dozen more times to start to understand some of the nuances.

Oh, and I forgot to let G4G readers know of my strange Royal Troon experience. We played the round in driving wind and rain behind a group of three Japanese players. The one fellow was wearing a head-to-toe yellow rainsuit. They played surprisingly slow, and our group of four quickly caught them at the 10th after another group had played through them. With the rain pouring, the group played slower and slower. Then, on the 14th, I found a club sitting behind the green. This was one hole after finding one of the player’s headcovers and returning it. I stuck the sand wedge in my bag, fully expecting to see the group on the following tee.

Instead, as we prepared to tee off, the man in the yellow rainsuit, which looked like it might work as well on a motorbike as it did on the golf course, came tearing down the fairway waving his arms. Apparently he was in need of his wedge and had discovered it missing. While it was clear from an earlier exchange that his English was limited, our group waved frantically at him, hoping to assure him that indeed, we had found the club and would return it. He came within 150 yards before stopping, apparently assuming our frantic arm waving meant we had his club. He nodded appreciatively at us upon returning it and ran back up the fairway. We didn’t see him again until grabbing a pint in the clubhouse whilst he added up his score — which appeared to be well into the three digits.

Anyway, the Old Course is a once-in-a-lifetime experience I have now had twice and will go through a third time as of tomorrow. One can never get enough.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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