Having opened all my presents and sung all my carols, I’m packing for my next golf trip: a January excursion to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. It will be a solo trip, I’m sorry to say, because both staff and family have been frightened off by press reports of blustery weather in Europe. One correspondent went so far as to send me a photograph of second-ranked Carne Golf Links blanketed with snow.
“Carne,” I reminded my dubious wife, “is in Ireland.”
On the bright side, she’s helping me pack.
Winter, I have argued to no avail, is the perfect time for a Scottish golf trip. Low-season hotel rates apply, green fees have been slashed, and you can practically name your tee time. (“Dawn” is a good choice, since the Scots can only squeeze about four hours of daylight into a January day.) These are not second-rate layouts, either. My Highlands-and-Islands itinerary includes Askernish (1), Castle Stuart (9), Royal Dornoch (43) and Nairn (51).
“You might want to e-mail them to see if they’re open,” said Dave Henson, the Hilton Head-based bureaucrat who runs my course-rating division.
“A waste of bandwidth,” I said dismissively. Dave has apparently forgotten our rainswept round at Nairn last July, which preceded our romp around Castle Stuart in 65-mph winds, which led to our being stranded on the island of Skye because an Atlantic gale had shut down ferry service to the Western Isles, where we were subsequently assaulted by sleet and drive-by bagpipers. “The Scots,” I reminded him, “don’t stop playing golf whenever the Heathrow baggage handlers put on mittens.”
Besides, the computer room at our Catch Basin headquarters is closed until the Basement Magic folks finish their work on the southern wall. The Bomar Brain is covered with a big blue tarp, the ping pong table is pushed against the vault door, and the Top 50 leader board is frosted with a layer of white sanding dust.
“Rankings cant change twixt now & e of year,” a Cal Tech liaison just informed me in a text from sunny California. “Go off & play!”
So I’m off to Scotland. But don’t worry, I’ll continue to file Top 50 posts on a close-to-weekly basis.
Top 50 on TV: Nothing this week, but Golf Channel is showing endless re-runs of “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf,” including a hard-to-forget (no matter how hard you try) match between Jack Nicklaus and a wheels-coming-off Johnny Miller at San Francisco’s Olympic Club (52). Other Shell episodes seem to have been staged on courses built just for the show in exotic corners of Asia and Africa. When the Top 50 is up to speed again, I’ll ask my technicians to prepare a list of “Top 10 Most Eloquent Jack Whitaker Descriptions of Sparsely-Grassed Resort Courses.”