There are some things in life that never get old. Traveling across the Atlantic to play links golf is one of them. I’ve played more than 100 rounds of golf in Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales – the majority of them on links courses. Playing links golf is like being reborn. Not just because it‘s a return to the roots of the game, but because of the role that the natural elements play in a round of links golf. The wind, the rain, the firmness of the links turf underfoot – it all has a magic to it that’s just absent from the parkland style of golf we play in America.
This trip, I’ll be one of five Golf Road Warriors from The A Position, a group of esteemed golf writers from around the world who travel to golf destinations and report back to the world on their experiences. I’ll be traveling with Anita Draycott, a Canadian golf writer; James Frank, former Golf Magazine and Golf Connoisseur editor; James Mason, a London-based freelance writer; and David Whyte of Go-golf.tv, who will serve as the videographer for the trip. We’ll meet in Glasgow on the morning of Thursday 10 May and proceed from there on what I can only imagine will be an unforgettable links golf adventure.
Our first stop will be Machrihanish Dunes, the magical new seaside resort on the Mull of Kintyre. We’ll check into the historic Ugadale Hotel, just recently restored to her former glory, drop off our bags, grab some lunch, and head right out for our first round, which will be contested at Dunaverty Golf Club just down the road in Southend.
We’ll spend three days At Machrihanish Dunes. While there, we’ll also play the celebrated Machrihanish Golf Club, with its famous opening tee shot across a corner of the ocean. And we’ll do battle with the new course there, Machrihanish Dunes GC, the David McLay Kidd-designed track that’s been called “The World’s Most Natural Golf Course.” There’s a whisky tasting in our future, as well – we’ll be visiting Springbank Distillery to sample its broad range of exquisite single malts. And before our Kintyre visit ends, we’ll celebrate the grand opening of Machrihanish Dunes’ second newly restored and historic hotel, The Royal, which will kick off its second life with a grand fireworks show over Campbeltown Harbour.
That alone would be enough of a trip for most any links golf lover. But not for a warrior. From Campbeltown, the group will take to the sea aboard the Kintyre Express fast RIB on Sunday morning for a 2-hour crossing to Girvan, where we’ll be met by a representative of PerryGolf, the outstanding Scottish golf tour operator company. Our next leg will be a short one, just down the coast to Turnberry, where after a bite of lunch in the Tappie Toorie clubhouse restaurant we’ll march off to do battle with the mighty Ailsa course. This Open championship venue ranks in the highest echelon of my links golf pantheon, and I can’t wait to test my game on her again.
Following dinner that evening at renowned Scotts restaurant on Troon Harbour, we’ll bed down in style for the night at The Marine Hotel, Troon. And I hope we get some rest. Because Monday we’re staring at 36 holes – first on the challenging Kyle Phillips-designed Dundonald Links course and then, after lunch, we’ll play on the other side of the railroad tracks at renowned Western Gailes.
After that, we’ll head up to the Mar Hall Golf & Spa Resort, which is located just a few miles from the Glasgow Airport but is in reality a world away. There, we’ll challenge the Earl of Mar course, enjoy a spa treatment, dine in fine style, and soak in the last couple days of what will undoubtedly have been a grand adventure.
Along the way, we hope to meet many brothers and sisters in golf, and to see sights the likes of which don’t exist on the roads I usually travel. We’ll be testing out some equipment, too – rain gear from Sun Mountain and Callaway’s newest golf balls. If they can pass muster in Scotland, they’ll perform well anywhere, I’d say.
I’m looking forward to writing about all these places and experiences. There’s a story in every one, and at the risk of making people jealous, I’m going to tell them. I hope you’ll join me for the week and that you enjoy following the exploits of the Golf Road Warriors as we wind our way through the southwestern regions of the Home of Golf. You can read more of my posts about the trip, along with those of the other Warriors, at: http://scotland.golfroadwarriors.com.