My trip to Scotland started on a whim. After two aborted golf trips in the states and a girlfriend traveling in Europe, a quick decision was made to travel across the Pond. My Initial Plan was to play as many courses as possible. Perhaps, this was a bit ambitious. It quickly became evident that if I wanted to return home still in a relationship, three rounds during my trip seemed like a fair compromise.
With my quota firmly in place, I sought out the opinion of anyone with insight into Scottish golf to help me choose the courses that I would play. Resident Blurb architecture guru, David Poimboeuf, gave me a list of about 10 courses that I whittled down to a doable itinerary. What I got out of my 3 planned rounds was an experience I will not soon forget.
Over the course of this series I will review each course in the same manner we do on the Blurb. Before we get to that, I wanted to share my experience and give anyone looking to play in Scotland some guidelines I learned.
First, the sheer number of options no matter where you are staying in Scotland is incredible. After selecting the courses I would play, I discovered there were usually no less than 10 other courses within 20 miles of where I chose to play. This made it very hard to know if I made the right decision. My advice is to make your pick and commit.
Secondly, after listening to what people told me, I was still unprepared for the experience of playing links golf. The types of shots I am used to hitting in the states were no match for firm greens and windy conditions. There were at least 4 shots each round that I thought would be great that ended up bounding high off the green and over the back. What I thought would be a no-stress par ended up being difficult a up-and-down. So, enjoy these rounds with no expectations, especially if you haven’t played proper links golf before.
Third, the views from these courses simply can’t be beat. The landscapes and topography of the course were breathtaking. Multiple times I stopped to just admire what the architect was able to accomplish in these stunning places. Make sure your camera is charged and ready to go!
Lastly, a word to anyone thinking of playing in Scotland: If you ever make the pilgrimage to the birthplace of golf, I urge you to vary the times of day which you play. For both cost reasons and degree of difficulty, I played at all parts of the day. My first round was an early morning tee time out ahead of everyone else, in benign conditions. I tee’d off at mid-day on the last and experienced the most links style conditions of any of the 4 rounds.
My favorite; however, was the twilight round at a historic course. The lighting made for incredible pictures and a with a fantastic visual experience of a beautiful piece of property. As Dave predicted on the Blurb, Golf in Scotland was an almost religious experience, and my hope is that it is translated well here.