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I finally got to notice they’re contesting The Open Championship – the greatest tournament in golf and I will abide no other opinions – in Carnoustie this week.
Cool place. And a story or three.
(Some of these I may have told before, but they’re still good)
Way back in the day – and I’m talking eons ago when I could get a golf ball airborne and scraped around a course or two – I found myself at Carnoustie during a driving tour of Scotland with Dear Old Dad to see some of his ancestry.
Of course, a game had to be had and there I was in the gloaming as a single with an old-timer on the bag having a grand old time.
Dad, who didn’t play, was off sampling a 25-year-old something or other so my buddy and I were chatting in between the many shots I took on the day.
He was a cool old dude in the manner you’d expect from a cool old Scottish caddy: fresh air stick hanging out of his mouth, towels over his shoulder, the tools of my trade over his other.
I honestly don’t know what I shot but I believe the course record was safe.
We get to one of the par-4s late in the back nine – I want to say it was 17 but it might have been 15 and I guess it doesn’t matter – and I actually landed my tee shot in a fairway. Go figure!
Anyway, I’m standing there, it seems a rather formidable but not impossible second shot and I turn to the bloke – let’s call him Angus because that sounds about right – and say:
“Can I get there with a 4-iron?”
He takes a drag, looks at the bag, the shot, then me, and says:
And, I think, eventually I did.
The Carnoustie stop was one of a handful of times I got to play on the trip. There was the obligatory round at The Old Course because you just had to and the most memorable – and difficult – had to be Royal Dornoch. I don’t know that you can call Dornoch a hidden gem but it might be my favourite course of all time, and one of the toughest I’ve ever played.
It was me and a lovely woman who was somehow related to my dad’s ancestors, we used buggies for some reason and we got it around in about 3:45, which I thought was damn impressive.
We finish, we might have been having a post-game pint and I asked how we did time-wise.
“Well, we were about 45 minutes slow but you’re from Canada, I understand.”
Okay, one more because, well, because I’m on a roll and this is a nice diversion.
Somehow, I get invited to play on a Sunday morning at a course somewhere in Glasgow with a distant relative of Dad’s and six of his buddies. It’s their usual weekend game – I think we started about 8 a.m. and I have no idea where the regular eighth got to but I was flattered to join.
We get through the outward nine in good time and then there was a traditional meeting of the two groups on the 10th tee to chat.
Well, of course, out from nowhere comes a flask, my host wondered:
“Will you have a wee dram, Douglas?”
How can you say no, right?
He proceeds to pour me – and everyone else – about a juice glass full of Drambuie and we slug it back because that’s apparently what you do.
Well, I proceed to shoot double-triple-triple-double bogey consecutively because I am seeing three balls and can’t figure which one I’m supposed to hit. Pro tip: it’s the middle one – and I cannot remember what I stumbled home in.
And thus endeth The Great Golfing Adventure of Long Ago.