Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Carnoustie Golf Links

            Plenty has been written about Carnoustie’s Championship Course. In this write-up, I focus more on our overall experience along with the great generosity of the Scottish people.

            In Tom Coyne’s book, A Course Called Ireland, he speaks about a phenomenon he encountered in Ireland, which he refers to as “Acts of Uncommon Irish Hospitality.” During our round at Carnoustie, we experienced multiple Acts of Uncommon Scottish Hospitality. The day began by getting a bus to Dundee, which was followed with a bus to Angus, which was supposed to drop us off at Panmure Golf Club. The bus driver forgot to tell us where to get off the bus. This caused us to miss our tee time at Panmure. When we finally got off the bus, we found ourselves standing in the middle of Angus, annoyed and angry at Scotland’s public transportation system. Frustrated, we started walking down the coast, figuring that we would eventually hit Carnoustie Golf Links.

            The plan had been to play Carnoustie the following day, but we decided to ask the starter if he could work us out at any point without a tee time. He told us he had an opening at 2:30PM that afternoon and asked us to come back around 2PM. So, like any respectable golfers travelling Scotland, we hit the pub at 9:15 in the morning. There’s nothing like three or four bacon rolls and an equal number of pints to wake you up in the morning! The plan was to then venture out into the town and see if there was a cheap place to spend the night, hoping to play the course again the next day without having to travel back to St Andrews. This is where the Acts of Uncommon Scottish Hospitality started.
            Our first stop was Carnoustie Men’s Golf Club directly across the street from Carnoustie Golf Hotel. We decided we would ask the lady who ran the restaurant for advice on where to spend the night. She responded to the question by saying, “I would normally let you both stay in my sons' room! But they’re both back in town since it’s spring break. Sit down, have some food, and I will call some of my friends.” After being served a nice warm meal, she said that she had called nearly all of her friends with extra rooms, and couldn’t find anyone without guest. But, she had called the local Travel Lodge and they would be willing to give us a room for nineteen pounds. We thanked her profusely and made our way back to Carnoustie Links to give a PowerShower rating to their showers. Unfortunately, the showers in the locker room were poor lacking in shower pressure and heat. This led to a very poor PowerShower rating of 2. 
            I decided to take a caddie during my round at Carnoustie and looking back it was my best choice of the entire day. My caddie was the Carnoustie Caddiemaster, Martin Roy. He had been caddying at the links for over thirty years and had been inducted by the Professional Caddie Association of America into their Hall of Fame at a ceremony at the World Golf Village in St Augustine, Florida. He was the first non-American caddie to be inducted. He had caddied for everyone from George Bush Sr. to Tiger Woods. He got me around “Carnasty” in 77 strokes on a windy March day finishing double bogey - bogey. I have never seen anyone with more knowledge of a course. It was also very impressive how after only a few holes, he had a very good grasp on my golf game. This good grasp of my game led him to make some very impressive club calls that I never would have known to make.                                                                                                                  
            After the round he asked how we would be getting back to St Andrews that night. We explained our plan to spend the night in the Travel Lodge, to which he replied, “I was a student once. I know you’re trying to save money. Let me drive you back to St Andrews tonight.” St Andrews was a 45-minute drive back down across the Firth of Tay. He lived five minutes from the course. Saying that he earned his tip for the round would be an understatement! He drove us the entire way back to St Andrews and stayed while we took him out for a meal at the Grill House. It was experiences like this that made The Gauntlet very memorable. We ended up not coming back to Carnoustie for a round the next day, but we’ll be heading back as soon as possible. 

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