Earlier this year we were contacted by two long time friends – Richard (a car dealer from El Paso) and Randy a doctor from Santa Rosa. Both had very busy professional lives and had recently decided to embark on a journey across the Atlantic. They approached us and together we designed a customised itinerary that mixed golf with some sightseeing and some culture. They would take in St Andrews, Edinburgh and London.
Arriving at Edinburgh Airport from Dallas we picked them up in an executive chauffeured car and sped up to St Andrews. They had chosen to stay in some of the most luxurious hotels and their first 3 nights would be spent at the famous Old Course Hotel. Both friends were very interested in the history of the old town so day one was spent visiting some of the historic sites. Mind you it was thirsty work apparently and a few local ‘saloons’ were also visited, purely for research purposes obviously. We’d pre-booked their dinner reservation that night so after a quick bite to eat they were ready for bed.
There are very few more picturesque links golf courses in Scotland than Kingsbarns. Alongside the Old Course and Carnoustie it features every year in the tremendously popular Dunhill Cup Links Championship where amateurs join professionals for the tournament. In October you’re very likely to see celebrities like Samuel L Jackson and Michael Phelps pounding the fairways looking for birdies and avoiding bogeys.
We’d arranged rental clubs for the guys and soon discovered Randy was coming back to golf after a 30 year break! No worries though as they jumped on the practice ground to warm up and get back into the swing of things. Mind you Randy seemed a bit nervous when the starter announced his arrival on the first tee. A minute later he smoked it down the first and headed out with caddies in tow. After a great round they retired to the wonderfully intimate and atmospheric clubhouse for a few drams looking out over the water.
Day 3 was designated for relaxation purposes only and with facilities like the Kohler Waters Spa at the Old Course Hotel, they weren’t short of ideas. We left them in peace.
Next day and it was the Old Course at St Andrew’s. Time to get serious. Obligatory photos were taken outside the R&A Clubhouse, caddies were introduced and straight onto the first tee to meet the starter. There’s always a bit of a crowd at the first tee on the Old Course. Guess who smoked it straight down the middle. Sometimes a good break is all we need!
The weather was fine and settled and Richard’s expert shot out of the bunker at The Road Hole (17th) drew a little applause as well as a respectful nod and ‘nae bad’ from his caddie. A walk over the famous Swilken Bridge and up to the 18th green for the most memorable of golf rounds. Now it was onto Edinburgh and the beautiful Principle Hotel on George Street, in the heart of the city. After a full day and night enjoying the city we picked up the guys to take them for an afternoon round at the unique West Links, North Berwick.
Golfers often ask who designed North Berwick. The answer is nobody-it just happened and in 1832 a club was formed around the original layout dating from the 16th century. The layout follows a similar path to the Old Course with nine out of the town and nine back towards. Generally you play into the wind on the front nine and then turn. to come down wind finishing with a short par 4 and a green that sits surrounded by the town. After a hearty lunch in the clubhouse and some challenging weather that made par a good score, the guys shook hands on the 18th green to bring their adventure to a close in Scotland.
The next day we flew them to London, staying in the West End for some culture and sightseeing, before flying home. We have a feeling Randy won’t be waiting another 30 years for a round of golf. Bon voyage.