I’m glad I’m a golfer. Golfers tend to be found on or adjacent to golf courses and golf courses are usually lovely places to be and many of them are in stunning parts of the world. Last October I played a trio of delights in the Emerald Isle – http://www.madillgolf.com/places/portstewart-portrush-castlerock-a-trio-of-golfing-delights
Well, this past week I turned left out of the gate at my Cheshire home and, along with a Welsh pal, Pam Valentine, headed north to Scotland. As we sailed past Gretna we mused over whether we’d soon be needing passports to cross the border, which led to us reporting to Drive Up Drive Off Sandra, ( http://www.madillgolf.com/coaching/warm-hot-start) our hostess and one of our fourball for the week, that we had spotted the planning notice for a border crossing and the foundations were already being laid. Her immediate outrage caused us great merriment. We really are very simple folk!
But on to the golf and the first stop from our Nairn base was Dornoch. Pam had last been there in 1999 joyfully witnessing Wales’ first ever victory in the women’s Home Internationals and the good memories came flooding back as this former international player, captain and selector prepared to play the course for the first time. It did not disappoint – and neither did her golf.
The course was in superb nick for late March and as the sun climbed high in the sky the layers of thermals came off and we ended up feeling we couldn’t have had a better experience had we come in mid summer. The match went to the last with Pam and her partner, Gill Stewart, birdieing two out of the last three to grab the bragging rights. Ah well, almost a perfect day!
Next on our list was one of my favourite places – Castle Stuart. We rolled up on what turned out to be the opening day of their season and the welcome overflowed into the car park to envelop us.
Elspeth, Jeremy, Stef, Keith, Lennie et al were on hand effortlessly smoothing our way to the first tee, meeting us at the half way house with a mug of lentil soup and a hot dog and sliding a glass of Guinness (other brands are available) into our hands at the 19th. Perfect weather, a course in amazing condition for early spring and complete visual overload – what a combination! Again, the match went to the last, this time yours truly digging out a couple of birdies in the last three to tie things up.
This was all a winter warm-up for our next outing a few days later at Muirfield against Stuart McEwen and his team in the 22nd playing of The Madill Trophy. Smarting from numerous defeats over the years, the Honourable Company have upped their game recently bringing in some formidable rookies, rugby’s Gavin Hastings being one. Gillian and I had a ding-dong match with Stuart and Gavin, finishing all square but victory by the recalled PC Brown and partner Chris Cowan ensured a lunchtime lead of a point for the hosts. Eight-a-side and 36 holes of foursomes translates into a total of eight matches all played under the Dallmeyer handicapping system. The brainchild of a former member of the HCEG, any side reaching 3 up has to give a stroke a hole until the match gets back to one, which usually results in very close matches. I, for one, certainly don’t mind receiving Dallmeyer and then going on to win!
Alas, the men ultimately edged home this year, winning by 4.5 to 3.5, sabotaging some of my (not unwilling) team at lunch with liquid refreshment.
So, Scotland really put on a show for our golfing journey – three magnificent golf courses, wonderful weather and lots of laughs. Pity the week had to end – anything following is sure to be a comedown.
Now where’s my diary till I see what’s next…..Ah yes! Monday 3rd April – Augusta! It’s a tough life!