Thursday, May 25, 2017
Good morning St. Andrews! The sun rose early today and streamed through our window. Everyone we meet tells us how lucky we are to have this weather, but so far we have seen nothing but sunny skies. We hope our luck holds out.
Breakfast at the Fairmont is a lavish affair. There is a huge buffet with many “stations” of various types of delicacies and Scottish specialties. It is hard to show restraint. One must choose wisely.
I take special notice of the Haggis, but decide to save it for later. I carefully choose a first course of Scottish Smoked Salmon, homemade bread, cream cheese, capers and cucumbers. It is delicious! When that is finished I make my way to the Haggis, order a freshly poached egg on spinach and decide to take my chances. For those of you wondering about Haggis – here is what Wiki has to say “Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep‘s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach though now often in an artificial casing instead. According to the 2001 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique: “Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour”
Turns out that Rich enjoys the Haggis as well. This could be the start of something big.
After lingering over our repast, we gather ourselves and prepare for another round of golf. Today we will be playing a very special course – Kingsbarns. I read many reviews online and this one was always noted as a “must play.” Rich doesn’t know anything about this course and I am secretly crossing my fingers that it is a good as I think it will be.
Not to worry. We pull up and they are waiting for us. Very welcoming. We head over to the practice area. I insisted that we get here early so I can try and work out my pitiful ball-striking of yesterday. Those of you who are golfers will understand what my problem was when I tell you that Rich now calls me “Shank-a-Poo” (in a loving waym of course). There is nothing than having the dreaded sh**ks when you are a golfer. Well – maybe there is something worse – having this problem when you are on a golfing holiday. I am determined to work them out of my system.
I have chosen to give us a special treat today and have booked caddies. Yep. We each have our own caddie to carry our bags, help with club selection, tell us the lay of the land and read putts. We have played with a forecaddie previously, but never with personal caddies. It is a bit unnerving especially considering the way I played yesterday. However we are excited to see how the day plays out.
We are paired up with two Kiwis and our 4 caddies meet us on the first tee. My caddie is David and Rich has George – both fine young men who are personable and cute. (hey – that is a factor in choosing a caddie). The men all tee off and Rich hits a good drive. Then we move up to my tee where I feel the audience of 7 men waiting to see what I can do. I promptly duff my drive about 50 yards. I can just feel the Kiwis thinking “Great. We get stuck with the woman golfer.” Declaring a “breakfast ball” I tee it up again and boom it out on the fairway. I am sure everyone breathed a sigh of relief!
We soon get into the rhythm and relax with our entourage. My caddie (David) is amazing! We chit chat along the way and I can tell he is rooting for me. It doesn’t take long for him to figure out my game and my clubs. He chooses my club for each shot and explakkins where to try and place the ball. He is also excellent at reading putts. Doesn’t take long for me to have full confidence in him. I have a great front nine and David tells me that I am “kickin’ ass” and beating the boys. Puffs me up like a Thanksgiving turkey. No “Shank-a-poo” in sight.
Rich has a decent front nine. Very early on he landed in one of the dreaded pot bunkers (that are super deep) and gets his ball up on the green and close to the pin. He immediately earns the respect of all! Rich’s caddie (George) is a pretty young kid (22) and is good, but has Rich hitting too much club on many occasions. Rich listens and flies over several greens. George does not quite know how good Rich can hit his clubs.
This course is absolutely stunning! Photos don’t nearly do it justice. Most of the holes have some kind of sea view. We both declare it the most beautiful course we have ever played.
Rich and George in deep discussion…
By the 12 hole Rich is feeling froggy and suggests to our Kiwi friends that we play match play against them (for a beer) for the last 6 holes. I have been playing great and am ready for the serious competition. Game on! All four caddies totally get into it and are rooting and cheering. Loads of fun! This is precisely when I decide to find every pot bunker on the course.
Good grief. I struggle to get out of every one. It is demoralizing. Good thing Rich steps up his game and carries our team.
We end up on the 18th with 1 hole left and we are 1 down. Both me and one of the Kiwi’s (Gordy) end up with a 60 yard shot directly uphill to the green. I thanked my caddie for waiting for the 18th to give me a full swing sand wedge (just the shot I had been shanking yesterday)! Anyway, I pull it together and hit a beauty. Gordy does the same, but is lying 4. I am lying 3 and need to sink my putt to win the hole and halve the match. He puts in his putt for a 5 and I miss mine for a 5. Now it is up to Rich.(Gordy’s partner is out of the hole).
Rich is lying 3 just off the green but a long way to the hole. Nerves are shaking as he takes a practice swing. He strikes the ball and immediately is crestfallen saying “I stubbed my putt.” We all watch in amazement as the ball continues rolling from the stubbed putt and goes into the hole to halve the match! Great fun!!
After our stellar round we all go into the clubhouse where we are met by Gordy’s wife who has already started downing the Gin and Tonics. We grab drinks, a bit of food and sit for a long while talking about golf, New Zealand, the US and a host of other important topics. Gordy, his wife (Jan) and Pete (his playing partner) are fantastic and we thoroughly enjoy shooting the breeze with them.
We tear ourselves away so that we can go into town (St. Andrews) and have a peek at the Old Course. I have already scoped out the Road Hole bar in the Old Course Hotel so we drop in for a drink. There is an outstanding view of the 17th and 18th holes at St. Andrews Old Course. What an awesome place!
The plan is to go into St. Andrews (really a college/golf town) and have dinner in one of the many pubs. Rich’s caddie mentioned The Central as being a great pub so we set out to find it.
After parking, we walk and easily locate The Central. It is a fantastic very small pub with a very friendly and accommodating bartender. We have been warned by our server at The Road Hole not to eat there (he used to work there…) so we order a couple of beers and relax. It is getting late and we haven’t had dinner. I remember that I researched pubs for dinner and came up with Dunvegans. It is touted as the best 19th hole in Scotland and luckily is right around the corner.
Dunvegans is everything you want your after golf Scottish pub to be. It is small, dark, has hundreds of framed photos of golfers on the wall and is packed. We grab a table and everything we can hear around us is centered around golf. Perfect. We order a couple of beers, Steak and Ale pie for Rich and a burger for me. It is all just what we wanted and we are two happy campers.
A golf then driving day awaits us tomorrow and we are both still a bit jet lagged. Since it stays light until almost 10pm it is hard to go home and turn in but we must.
This has been another amazing day in Scotland. I think we could get used to this.
After a very short drive back to the Fairmont, we quickly pack up (since we have to leave right after golf tomorrow) and hit the hay. Tomorrow the Kittocks course at the Fairmont awaits.