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Friday, July 27, 2007

Recap of Scotland Trip - Part One

There's so much to report about our recent trip to Scotland, that I'm going to have to serialize the trip in three or four parts. So, stay tuned to the blog over the next week.

Turnberry - Ailsa Championship Course
If you haven't availed yourself of the opportunity to play golf in Scotland, search for coins in the couch cushions and book a flight. I've played a lot of golf in my life (if you could call what I do "playing golf"), and I've never played a string of five courses quite like the ones we walked (i.e. no carts) last week.

I want to first establish who went on the trip. It was my wife Sara, her college roommate, bridesmaid, and world traveller from Boston, MA via Coudersport, PA, Maureen "Mojo" Larsen, my brother Jimmy, and my brother Tubby. With our luggage and three golf bags, the Renault Scenic was stuffed to the gills, but everyone was comfortable. I was the chauffeur, as I am the only one with experience driving a stick on the left side of the road.

I created the agenda with some help from Duncan Martin, a somewhat famous golf executive, historian, and enthusiast from Glasgow who did business with my parents when they ran a golf catalog called Tribute Golf in the 1990s. After flying from Philly to Glasgow, we made our way south to Turnberry, where we stayed at the Westin Turnberry Resort for two nights (thank you, Starwood points!).

On the afternoon of our arrival, we teed it up at Turnberry's Ailsa Championship Course. This is where Watson and Nicklaus had their "Duel in the Sun" in '77. The course is again playing host to the Open Championship in 2009.

What a golf course! People call it "The Pebble Beach of Scotland", and it surpassed my expectations. It was fitting that there was a 30 mph wind throughout our round, but we managed to do okay. I shot a 91 with three sevens and an eight, so it was half-respectable considering the state of my driving and putting. Unfortunately, this was my best round of the week.

By far the highlight of the round was Jimmy's hole-in-one on #11, which measured about 148 yards in a devilish right to left wind. He hit (I think) an eight iron as straight as Sean Connery, and it never moved off line. The pin was set near the front middle, and after it disappeared, he and Tubs went nuts. It had rolled over a little hill like a putt, and it was difficult to see the hole, so I was worried that it was only close, and not in. Hence, my delayed elation.

Jimmy and Tub Rock ran up to the green, and lo and behold, it was in the hole! Many pictures were taken, and the 1 really did wonders for his score. Tubby and I hit next, and though we hit decent shots, there was no way we could top what we had seen. The only other time I had seen a hole-in-one in person was by a fat kid about twenty years ago at Westlake Golf Course. I doubt that that chubs even plays anymore -- he was that bad. So, this was the first time I witnessed a real ace.
The entire course was perfect. I can't think of one weak hole. The long stretch of holes along the water and to the lighthouse is hard to beat. Even with all of my wayward shots and lost balls in the heather and gorse, I felt good about finishing birdie-par. Maybe Tom Watson was giving me a little push.

More to come in the next post . . .


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jimmy G, Congrats! Good for you, that is fantastic. John looking forward to part two thre, four, ...


3:17 AM  

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