A quiet Saturday. No football or golf so we decide to drive up the Fife coast to Elie and have a late lunch. It turns into a perfect illustration of what I am trying to do and why.
Great weather, sunny and fantastic visibility as we go over the Forth Road Bridge The most iconic structure in Scotland on our right, the Rail Bridge and the new road link on the left looking about half completed. Will be an extraordinary 3 cross when it is finished. Amanda asks what they will do with the old road bridge and I tell her they are going to convert it into the longest and most difficult golf hole in the world. She doesn’t buy it. But why not? What a tourist attraction. Salmond is a golfer. I will e mail him with my idea on Monday.
A perfect sunny day to play the best inland course in the world. This is not ‘Probably the best inland course in the world’. There is no debate. This is no 1. The undisputed champion.
The latest edition of Golf World has new rankings for the top 100 courses in Britain and Ireland. Loch Lomond is no 21, down 7 places from the last list. Don’t understand or agree with that analysis, particularly as there are 3 inland courses ahead of it. I accept it is very hard to measure links against inland but not to rank LL as the top inland course is bizarre. Sunningdale Old and New are fabulous courses but have nothing like the grandeur or views that LL offers. Woodhall Spa is a fine course but to rate it above LL is just silly.
This will be my second card for my handicap (unless my away card at Dundonald has been accepted) and I feel much better prepared than I did for the May competition. There are still weaknesses in my game but I have played and practiced more in the last 8 weeks than I have for 10 years and I can feel the benefits. The bad shots are less bad and I am getting steadier – fewer double bogies. I continue this regime by hitting 40 balls before teeing off – finishing with half a dozen 3 woods, the club I will be using on the first two tees. Hit them really well – in fact bomb the last couple.
I am playing with Brian McAlinden and John Telfer. Two retired teachers who have been friends since their days at Jordanhill College. Really great company and an interesting mixture of erudition and Scottish humour. Feel like I have stumbled into the University Challenge episode of Still Game.
Duddingston is a course I have never played. Situated at the south of Edinburgh, only a few miles from the city centre and right beside Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park. Fantastic spot so close to historic Edinburgh and rated as one of the top parkland courses in Scotland.
It’s most famous son was RDBM Shade, Scotland’s finest ever amateur player. Died tragically young but remembered fondly by all who saw him play. Nicknamed ‘Right Down The Bloody Middle’ by opponents – the legend is he never missed a fairway. (I saw him play once – some sort of regional teams’ event at Lanark. I was in a junior team. He was In the Edinburgh top senior team so, thankfully, we were not opponents!)
Amanda and I are in France for a 3 day break, guests of one of my oldest friends, Ali Muir, and his girlfriend Valentine. Ali and I met in first year at Hamilton Academy and have been pals since. Ali left Scotland in his early twenties for Toronto where he built up a successful insurance business which he has recently sold. The trip is part of his attempt to transit from work to semi-retirement. From the amounts we eat and drink it seems to be going well!!
He has the use of a small, two bedroom gite in Aujargues, a village situated about 15 miles north east of Montpelier. He is into his second week when we get there on the Thursday. The early morning trip from Scotland was painless other than my attempt to get breakfast at Prestwick Airport. Prestwick is now owned by the Scottish government, the previous incumbents having failed to ever make a profit from their investment. Lack of volume was the key reason plus a very competitive deal on landing fees conceded to keep Ryanair using the Airport. But judged by my experience the catering offer was probably also partly responsible for the lack of success. The choice is limited – nothing on the hot plates seems to have any moisture still clinging to it. I see some beans congealing in a pan. My hopes rise.