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.”
3 responses to “Scottish Golf: ‘Tis the Season?”
Are You looking for new course raters? I play a lot of golf around the world and would be willing to share some of the experiences I had.
Thanks for volunteering, Ivan. The truth is, I have had to lay off quite a few course raters due to the economy. Besides, now that I work only part-time for SI, I’m trying to rate as many of the world’s courses as possible by myself. But I’ll keep you in mind for future openings.
They don’t stop playing golf when the weather turns bad? In ’92 I traveled across the pond with a golf pro buddy (now the coach at Brown University). Our last round was scheduled for Southerness, in the southern part of the country. We weren’t to go off until 10 because the members had an event that morning, but the rain was torrential. Upon our arrival, there were only a couple of cars in the lot, and 3 guys in the pro shop with the pro. They had the temerity to ask if we were really going to play (their event having been canceled). We told them that we hadn’t flown all the way over there to lay up — and off we went. The cups were full of water, but the greens and fairways remained firm and fast. Par was at least 80, but it was the best day of our trip. . .