Royal Burgess – 6 July 2014 – Vivaldi Golf

A round at the oldest golfing society in the world. Not the oldest course but Burgess is now generally accepted as the first golf club.  Founded in 1735.  Members played originally at Bruntsfield in central Edinburgh.  Then moved to Musselburgh where they shared the course with The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, Royal Musselburgh and Bruntsfield golf club.  What a breeding ground – what artistic pedigree! – But probably a bit difficult to get a tee time so the various parties split, The Hon Company relocating to Muirfield and Burgess to Barnton in 1894.  Course originally set out by Willie Park Jnr then touched up by Colt and finally Mackenzie Ross.  Again not a bad grouping.

I am playing with Kevin Troup, his 16 year old son Jamie and Donald Dunbar. Jenny Dunbar, Donald’s younger sister, is one of Amanda’s oldest and best friends.  They met at Guildhall School of Drama over 30 years ago and have been laughing together ever since.  Kevin and Jenny live in the Old Town and got together just before I met Amanda.

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Royal Troon or Loonie Troons? – 3 July 2014

When I committed to writing a blog I knew there would be times when I would be tempted to give myself some  ‘three feet putts’. Make it easier in terms of the continuing story.  That temptation didn’t reveal itself until Friday the 3rd at Royal Troon.

A course I know well, a course I have played many times and the second Open Championship course I have tackled since I started my new golf life. One of an incredible stretch of courses beginning at Turnberry and continuing up the coast through Prestwick Saint Nicholas, Prestwick itself, then Troon, the courses back on to each other, Barassie, Dundonald, Western Gailes, Glasgow Gailes then Irvine Bogside.  6 of the top 100 courses in the UK in that small area and the others in the next 100.  Unmatched anywhere in the world – golfers’ paradise (but no sign of the 72 virgins).  The only other concentration of courses to match this is on the East Coast starting at Luffness and running through Gullane, Muirfield, Archerfield, Renaissance, North Berwick and finishing at Dunbar.

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Glasgow Gailes – 3 July 2014 – A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma

Putting. A game within a game or in my case a game within a game within a game within ……  An infinite regression which has gnawed away at me since I was a teenager.  I can remember when it started.  School championship final at my course, Carluke, against my pal Jim Forsyth. All square after 18.  Playing the first.  220 yd par three.  I had the honour.  1 iron on the pin all the way.  Just moved left at the end but within 8 ft.  Jim went badly right into a field which had been out of bounds until two weeks before when work started on the new first!!  Found it in the hay and played a great wedge to 15 ft.  I was still confident.  He holed.  I was still confident but was too bold with my attempt and ran it 2 ft by.  Didn’t expect to be given it and I wasn’t.  Standing over it, for the first time I can remember, I thought if I miss I lose the final.  I did miss.

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North Berwick Runs Through the Middle – 1 July 2014


The blog began with reminiscences of my early adventures in golf and a family trip to North Berwick during the Open Championship in July 1959. (May – A new hope).  That holiday sealed my love for the game and my meeting with Sewsunker Sewgolum, one of the most remarkable characters ever to play golf professionally, was one of two key moments in that week.  The other was following Gary Player on the final round in his first Major win – (getting to know and play with him years later is a separate chapter).

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To Bet or Not To Bet – Hoylake and Dante

As the Open gets nearer my enthusiasm for watching golf on TV is growing and I am also thinking about betting again.

I had almost given up on watching normal USPGA tournaments on Sky because of the interminable interruptions .  Adverts every few minutes and even during the ‘normal’ golf time – the bitty nature of the production.  Continually breaking away to trail other programmes with no link to golf and strange interludes/interviews which seem only marginally connected to the action on the course.  The complete antithesis to listening to the great British commentators I grew up with Henry Longhurst, Dan Maskell, EW Swanton, and then Peter Alliss.  They all started in the era of radio so learned to construct a story, a picture in words which complimented the action, not detracted from it.  US TV works on the premise that the attention span of its regular viewer is shorter than a fourth putt, but if they stepped back from the shot and took a longer look it would surprise them.  Golfers don’t need to hear noise every second to hold their attention.

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