I’m on the flight home from my week as a Scotland Golf Road Warrior. Been there, done that and would love to do it all over again. It was a very full week with lots of laughs, not enough sleep and too many triple bogeys. Allow me to share some of the highlights.
Lure of the Links
For pampered North American golfers, the first encounter with a true links course may come as a bit of a shock. Forget about tree-lined wall-to-wall fairways, copious yardage markers, benches, ball cleaners, and cart girls. Buggies, as they’re called in Scotland are few and far between; links courses were meant to be walked. Count on quirky bounces. Expect to lose plenty of balls in the rough and taste the salt in the invigorating air. Links courses are created in the main by Mother Nature, carved through dunes linking land and sea. This is golf at its purest. Golf as it was meant to be played. And it doesn’t get any better or purer than in Scotland, where the game was born.
The Full Monty
If you’ve never played a true links course, you might want to plan your itinerary by starting at Turnberryand booking a session at the Colin Montgomerie Links Golf Academy, the world’s first school specializing in links logistics. My abbreviated session with Senior Teaching Professional, Michael Sweenie, taught me the punch shot, handy in a howling wind. Sweenie also had a few tips up his sleeve for digging out of treacherous grass-sodded bunkers. The Academy also offers a more intensive full-day session including nine holes in the morning with your instructor on the Arran Course, lunch and a three-hour afternoon lesson at the Academy. To make the most of your UK links experience, my advice is to start at Turnberry and sign yourself up for this Full Monty.
A to B Logistics
Do yourself a big favour and let someone else do the driving. PerryGolf’s comfortable Mercedes Benz VIP coaches and drivers will chauffeur you from course to course and you’ll have no worries about having a few pints at lunch or contemplating driving on the wrong side of a skinny road. I was disappointed that we could not take the Kintyre Express boat from Machrihanish to the Ayrshire Coast (in just over and hour) but the weather was foul so the crossing was cancelled. However, consider the Kintyre Express as a scenic, short and fun way to get around.
The grand opening of The Royal Hotel began with champagne and bagpipes (played by women) and ended with a dazzling display of fireworks over the harbor. The entire town came out to celebrate. Those Scots know how to party.
Read my post about Sun Mountain’s ClubGlider. If you travel a lot with your clubs, it will change your life. I also got to “test drive” Sun Mountain’s rain and wind gear. I especially liked the rain pants that kept me snug and dry in extreme conditions. They have deep, zipped pockets and a clever snap system that lets you adjust the hem.
At the Springbank Distillery whisky tasting I learned that Scotch and dark chocolate were made for each other—a great way to double up on your vices.
Cullen Skink, a Scottish chowder chock full of smoked haddock and spuds hits the spot after 18 holes. The recipe at the Ugadale Hotel’s Kintyre Club is a winner.
Guy Redford, Director of Golf at the Dundonald Links, introduced me to the Gunner, a zippy drink made of ginger beer, ginger ale and a dash of Angostura bitters. Very thirst quenching after a round on Dundonald, designed by Kyle Phillips (of Kingsbarns fame.) By the way, when the Dundonald Links opened in 2003 it was strictly for members of the prestigious Loch Lomond Golf Club. Now it’s open to non-members at attractive rates.
Chef Sam Carswell’s multi-course extravaganza, complete with brilliant wine pairings for our last supper at Mar Hall deserves raves.
Who is The Most Interesting Man in Scotland?
I’ve met him; you should too. Please visit The Scotland Golf Road Warriors website. Don’t miss the Video section.