I've been an avid golfer for almost fifty years. Recently, I made the ultimate pilgrimage for a golfer. I flew to Scotland and played some of the greatest courses in the world!
I've been playing golf (some would say "attempting" to play golf) for about fifty years. There was a period in the 1980s and early 1990s in which I played often enough to have a decent game and for a time, carried a handicap under 10. (For you who aren't golfers, a handicap represents roughly how your average score compares to par.) Over the decades, I have watched countless major golf tournaments on television, and have been to a couple of U.S. Open tournaments in person. I have always dreamed of either attending a British Open tournament (they prefer that it be called "The Open") or perhaps even traveling to the United Kingdom and playing some of the courses that host The Open. Earlier this month, I did exactly that ... I flew to Scotland and played several of the golf courses where The Open is played. It was, indeed, the trip of a lifetime.
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I made the trip with golfers from Wildflower Country Club in Temple and Mill Creek Golf Club in Salado, as well as three gentlemen from other parts of the U.S. who joined our group. Bill Euler, who is the head golf professional at Wildflower, and who has taken other groups to Scotland or Ireland over the past ten years or so, led the tour. Bill was a knowledgeable guide for our adventure.
Many of the group flew out of Austin, connecting at Newark for a non-stop flight to Edinburgh, Scotland. I chose to fly out of DFW airport non-stop to Amsterdam on KLM, connecting from Amsterdam to Edinburgh. I arrived only about an hour behind the main group, and we gathered our bags and golf bags and took a motor coach from Edinburgh across Scotland to Troon, passing through Glasgow on the way. The countryside was stunningly beautiful, with rolling hills covered by deep green pastures with fields of wheat and barley interspersed. Sheep and cattle grazed in pastures. We arrived at Troon in time for an afternoon round of golf at Prestwick Golf Club, where the first "Open" was played ... 1860! After the round, we checked into our hotel and after a quick dinner, retired for the night. Most of us had slept little on the overnight trans-Atlantic flights, and we were a bunch of really tired guys by the end of our first day in Scotland. In the next three days, we played rounds at Turnberry, Royal Troon, and Western Gailes. These were all links courses, set hard beside the northern end of the Irish Sea.
The weather, you ask ... not all that bad by Scottish standards. It has been a very wet summer in Scotland, so the courses were very green and the fairways unusually soft. We had windy conditions during the round at Turnberry, rain during the back nine at Royal Troon, and cloudy, cool weather at Western Gailes. Temperatures ranged from morning lows in the low 50s to afternoon highs in the low to mid 60s.
Check back soon for more as the venue changes from Scotland's western coast to the eastern coast!