We’re following Jeff Fought, our director of golf here at Black Butte Ranch, as he and a group of friends take Scotland by storm. Check back often as Jeff shares with us the joys of playing in the cradle of golf.
One never knows what they will find on a Scottish golf course. Yes there is history everywhere. At Nairn Golf Club, on the coast of the North Sea, there are reminders of the 1999 Walker Cup played there. And “fine old buildings” built in 1877, constructed for the salmon fishing industry, dot the landscape. That landscape is in itself striking, like so many other great links golf courses we have played. The setting, of course, is part of the challenge of this style of golf. Take a look at the lie we had here…
There may be no more striking landscape than at Brora Golf Club, where our group played on Thursday. The course itself is a virtual child around here, merely built in 1923. We’re pretty far north in Scotland, and Brora is shaped by the North Sea coast. But the views are almost unfathomable. Check out the view from the first hole:
And yes, those are whitecaps out at sea, and this was a pretty calm day for us. One thing that has been consistent so far on the trip is the wind. The weather has gotten the better of most of us out on course. Still, we wouldn’t want it any other way!
Watch this shot from No. 13 at North Berwick
What a weekend we had here in Scotland. It started, of course, with a round at famed Carnoustie Golf Links. Talk about hallowed ground. This is the same place where Ben Hogan would forever immortalize himself with a final-round course record en route to a four-stroke win at The 1953 Open Championship, his third major of the year and the only time he would ever play in the British. Carnoustie’s sixth hole, which he birdied on the final day, has been nicknamed Hogan’s Alley ever since. To retrace the steps is an almost impossible feeling to describe.
Next, we moved to Montrose Golf Links in Angus on the eastern coast of Scotland. In Oregon, we think clubs such as Waverley Country Club near Portland are grand old golf clubs. And such golf courses are indeed wonderful places. But this is whole other perspective. Montrose? It was established in 1562, the fifth-oldest golf course in the world, and its heritage can be felt on every hole.
Next, we played one of my favorites: Cruden Bay Golf Club. Designed by Archie Simpson and Old Tom Morris, the patriarch of modern golf, this is simply one of the greatest golf courses in the world. Compared with Montrose, the original course at Cruden Bay is but a pup, established in the late 1700s.
Speaking of Old Tom Morris (not to mention Young Tom Morris), we had a chance to pay our respects at the St. Andrews Cathedral churchyard. For anyone who loves golf deeply, a visit here is an absolute must. Morris revolutionized golf, and visiting his grave is reminder of just what he meant to the game all over the world.
What a wonderful trip this has been so far!
Day 2: North Berwick
From left: Here is me, Rod Morris, and Marv Hoff at North Berwick.
Did I mention the wind? Well, after a breezy day at Royal Troon, things got even breezier at North Berwick.
The 100-mile drive from Royal Troon on the west coast of Scotland across to North Berwick, on Scotland’s east coast, took us through Scotland’s two largest cities: Glasgow and Edinburgh. But the beauty of North Berwick was the real show-stopper. Talk about history, they have been playing golf in this spot since the 17th century and the place feels ancient.
The 13th hole is a prime example. I mean, how many forced carries over a wall (or “dyke,” as my caddie told me) are there in golf? Amazing.
Of course, the winds that howled all day, some 20 to 30 miles per hour, won the day again. Still, what a blast this place was. Tomorrow? Off to famed Carnoustie, where we can retrace the steps of Ben Hogan in the 1953 Open Championship.
Day 1: Royal Troon
A picture of the group (I’m the fourth one from the left, wearing black) just before teeing off on the first hole.
The trip from Portland went relatively smooth, and the excitement of this trip was palpable. The beauty of Scotland is unforgettable. This is my third trip to Scotland, and each time it takes my breath away. It reminds me of Oregon, but it’s altogether different. This feels far more ancient.
Our first stop on Monday was Royal Troon, which will host the 2016 Open Championship, and signs were everywhere (see the bleachers under construction in the photo above) that The Open was coming up soon. From the clubhouse to the famed “Postage Stamp” eighth hole, history is everywhere at Troon, which opened in 1878 and will host its ninth Open this year. Very cool.
One other thing that was everywhere Monday: THE WIND! It literally howled all day. What would links golf be without it? Troon rests on the western shores of Scotland and if the wind is up, it takes over a round, not unlike at Bandon Dunes at home.
No matter. It was a fantastic first day. The love for Scottish golf is alive and well. Can’t wait to tee it up tomorrow!