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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Fifth of Scotch - The Final Chapter on the Scotland Trip

It's been more than six months since I posted the fourth chapter on our trip to Scotland -- too long. However, the details are still fresh in my mind, so here's how it wrapped up.

After the Open and our final failed attempt to play the Old Course, we went to dinner at a really good brick-oven pizza/Italian food joint in St. Andrews. One would think that St. Andrews would be all about traditional British food, but there were more than a handful of solid restaurants in town. Dinner was very good, but the service was sub-standard. Our meals took forever. However, the wine and beer went down smoothly, and it set the stage for a fun night on the town.
We headed over to a bar called something like "The Lizard". It wasn't hopping at first, but it got packed pretty quickly. The bottom line is that we ended up hanging out most of the night with some Brits who went to school in St. Andrews and a representative from the Nigeria Golf Federation named Abel Edinomo. No joke. Evidently, Nigeria has over 40 golf courses. Our main man from the NGF wanted to have Tubby and me fly over to play. Even though he said security wouldn't be an issue, I'm going to pass until the political climate changes. Still, I have his card, so I'm toying with the idea of interviewing him for Networked Golfer.
We had a super-early tee time on Saturday morning at The Devlin Course over at the Fairmont. Jimmy, Tubs and I were in a fog from the previous night, and it showed in the way we played. The Devlin is a very tough course, and the winds were up. For most of the round, it was a two or three club wind. We all adjusted pretty well -- by the middle of the back nine. Part of the problem was that the course, though on the sea, is more of an American-style course than the others we'd been playing. The major difference isn't the look of the course (it was links-style), but that it has more forced carries and targets than Lundin Golf Club and Turnberry. And, since it hasn't had a zillion years to grow in, the ball didn't roll very well in the fairways. We'd been playing "hard and fast" for almost a week, and our final round was soft and slow.
The greens were very hard and very fast. This made it even more difficult. On a perfect day, with the right mindset, the Devlin can be had. It just wasn't going to be had by any of us.
After the round, Tubby and I chatted about the course with a couple of Scots who were coming up to #18. Jimmy had walked ahead to the clubhouse. When we reunited with him five minutes later, he pointed out that Loren Roberts' bag was next to the pro shop on a trolley. Roberts had just missed the cut at Carnoustie, but he was sticking around to vacation and to prepare for the British Senior Open that kicked off on the upcoming Thursday.
We went into the clubhouse, and Loren was sitting by himself preparing to dig into a club sandwich. Throwing tact out the window, we decided to chat him up. He stuck out his hand and smiled and proceeded to talk to us for a couple of minutes. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy who was very happy to hear about our exploits on the Devlin. We had seen him play two holes the day before and were actually nearby when he chipped in on #12 (I think). We told him that the Devlin was tough, but that we were sure he could handle it better than we did. The short conversation with him in an empty dining room was one of the highlights of the trip, and now all three of us are much bigger fans of The Boss of the Moss because of his great attitude and his willingness to ask a bunch of nobody Americans about the course and our stay in Scotland. Finally, our time had come to leave St. Andrews. I'm itching to go back, not just to play some of the courses we didn't play (including Elie, Kingsbarns, Crail, and the majority of the St. Andrews Links Trust courses), but also to spend some more time in the charming town. Even if you don't play golf, it's a wonderful destination.
Our flight was leaving from Glasgow the next day, so that night we settled into the Millennium Hotel in a happening part of town. We had a really fun night out at the bars and got a taste of how the locals party at a club called Frankenstein. There were a few incidents that occurred that aren't totally appropriate for this blog, but nothing too outlandish.

The next day, we got to the airport in plenty of time and made the uneventful flight back to Philly. I caught the playoff of the Open on XM Radio in the parking lot of PHL, and it felt strange that only two days earlier we had been at Carnoustie and were now listening to the end of a great tournament from a station wagon thousands of miles away. I guess that's just the way we Gormans roll.


Anonymous Tubby G said...

Finally...the 5th and final installment of our trip. Thanks for filling me in on a bunch of those blanks from those late nights...I think by 2033, the GBI may be off to Nigeria for the first time. Everyone who is reading this blog, make sure to make it over to Scotland. It has amazing golf and very hospitable people. Can't wait for the next golf adventure. 2 of 2 in Europe...I think South America or Asia should be next on the docate.

10:15 PM  

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