Scotland's golf links have transformed me
In recent years, the Open Championship has become my personal favorite major championship in golf. Ever since I started playing nearly 35 years ago, I always had a fascination with that different form of the game known as links golf - usually on half-brown turf, players using bump and run shots, stacked sod bunkers that are a real hazard and wind speeds that can mean nothing at all or up to a 4 club difference. And all of the history involved in the oldest championship in the world produced an increasingly seductive allure for me as I’ve aged. But it was not until I finally crossed the Atlantic for an 11-day immersion into links golf that I became totally, impossibly in love with this event. Only now can I fully appreciate exactly what the players are facing.
Having said that, I am positively giddy that we will get a triple dose of links golf in July as this year’s Open at Carnoustie next week will be followed immediately by the Senior Open at Muirfield, then the Women’s Open at St. Andrews. I had the pleasure of a round on the Old Course but only got to look over the Muirfield links from the top of Gullane Hill when I played the spectacular Gullane No. 1 Course next door. Sadly, Carnoustie did not fit in our itinerary. I have been assured it’s a masochist’s delight, perhaps the toughest course in the world.
My buddies and I are now planning another Scotland golf vacation for 2008, this time to the Highlands and Northeast to play Royal Dornoch, Nairn, Cruden Bay and many other seaside gems. I cannot urge you strongly enough, that if you have never played real links golf, to make it the highest priority on your life’s to-do list. Anywhere in the British Isles will do. I swear it’s the most fun I’ve ever had playing golf in my life.
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Have not played those 2 courses but have played many faux-links courses including those at Whistling Straits. The turf is way too soft so it's not even close to the real thing. Imagine having about 100 yds to a front pin with a 30 mph wind at your back on very undulating turf that's hard as thin carpet on a cement floor. Talk about feel shots!
You picked a great place to start as St. Andrews is a wonderful "auld toon". We enjoyed our 2 days there as we played both Old & New as well. I've not been up North yet, but we spent 4 days on the West coast in Gailes, which is near Troon. The highlight of that part of the trip was our round at Prestwick, site of the first 21 Opens. A very special course with much more variety than St. Andrews. Then we went for a week on the East coast, primarily in East Lothian, where we played the wonderful links of Gullane (#1 and #2), North Berwick (West & East) & Dunbar. All courses with incredible variety, character & beauty. I'd probably commit homicide if it would get me there right now. Well, ok, maybe not, but you know what I mean!!
Worth having a look at.