Playing the King’s (and Living Like Kings)

26 05 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017

I wake up around 3:00am (again). The jet lag has not yet subsided. I force myself to go back to sleep until a more civilized hour. When we do arise and look out we see a fog has settled upon Gleneagles. The fog makes this place look even better – more Scotland-like.

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have been feeling a wee bit guilty for not hitting up the beautiful fitness rooms in our last resort so I make my way down this morning and log in a nice workout.  Feels good!

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Tee time isn’t until 11:00 so we have time for a nice, leisurely breakfast at the Strathearn restaurant where a completely lavish buffet is set up. This has to be one of the most beautiful array of breakfast items I have ever seen.  I understand that most items are locally sourced. Plus – they also give you a menu with specialty items to order if you like. We like. If you want to ready about some of their local items and the specialty menu – click HERE. We both order the Finnan Haddock with Eggs both poached in milk(!) and then make our way to the buffet for “side” items.

Sadly no Mimosas or Bloody Marys for us – we have to golf…

The Haddock arrives and is a thing of beauty. We both try it and declare it delicious, smoky and salty and eggy, almost too much of a good thing. Glad we tried it.

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Our golf clubs have already made their way down to the pro shop so we make the 5 minute walk to find them. There are 4 courses at GlenEagles – King’s, Queens, PGA Centenary and the par 3 Wee Course. They all look stunning. Today we are playing with caddies again and are eager to see who we will get.

We are greeted properly and politely and I get a kick out of the starter’s booth. We need something like this at Painted Mountain.

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Looks kinda like the starter booth at Painted…

My caddie is a young lad named Daniel. Rich has an “old salt” named Martin. We play as a twosome and enjoy getting to know our caddies. The course is absolutely gorgeous and both of us play pretty well. Martin is especially tuned into Rich’s game and they get along swimmingly.

Rich reaches for his camera phone on the 3rd hole and it’s missing. On the last tee box, Rich had laid it down on the grass behind him. Martin is concerned and calls one of the “lads” behind us to retrieve it, without luck. Since the pace is leisurely, Martin decides to hike back to the #2 tee box to find it. In the meanwhile, I find out what the commotion is and hold up the phone. Rich had absent-mindedly handed it to me after his tee shot. Oh well, glad we didn’t lose it at least.

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Martin and Rich studying the situation.

I actually started out the round on fire, parring four or five holes in the first six. Rich’s caddie Martin was impresssed with my game and started egging Rich on to pick his own game up.

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Daniel convincing me to use a shorter club.

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The result of choosing a shorter club! (Actually the result of a poor shot.)

The course itself is stunning. The holes have lots of elevation changes and are treacherous but playable. Add in rolling mountains, blankets of yellow flowers, interesting birds, and at times it was hard to focus on the golf. On one hole, Martin explained that there are a variety of the yellow-flowered shrubs. The one with sticky thorns is called gorse, while the smooth variety is called “broom.” He pointed out a nasty insect called a kledge, one that lands lightly but bites heavily. A little later we hear the distant call of “koo-koo” – yes a real cuckoo bird.

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Martin explains the difference between Gorse and Broom (both are brilliant yellow)

Rich indeed started picking up his game, and a few errors crept into mine, so we soon had a pretty close match going. Once the scorecards were checked, the real match got into gear, and both caddies started stoking the flames. Martin (Rich’s caddie) kept trying to rush in and mark my short putts, even after Rich had conceded them, with mischief in his eyes.

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Somewhere around the 15th hole, with rain clouds swirling above, the distant sound of bagpipes filled the air. I can’t begin to relay the utter magic of these minutes – you’ll just have to imagine.

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On the 17th tee box I’m 2-up with 2 to play. Amid the trash talk, I declare, “Well, hey, I can’t lose,” which cracks everyone up. Martin declares it a dormie, a Scottish word for this situation. Rich counters that I CAN lose if I blow the next 2 holes.

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So I proceed to blow up the 17th while Rich double-bogies it. He declares it the best 6 he’s ever put up. Now only 1-up with 1 to play, we both tee off on the 18th. Rich drives wildly right while I go down the middle. They locate his ball in the tall stuff and he pitches back onto the fairway – which delights Martin. Even so, I have victory nearly in hand. I then proceed to drive my 3rd shot into a fairway bunker – my nemesis!

Rich is now sitting 3 on the green and I’m 3 in the stinkin’ bunker. Gather up nerves, I then executed one of my best bunker shots ever to put my ball 10 feet from the pin. Everybody cheered! We both then 2-putted, giving the hole to Rich to end the match all square. Everyone was laughing. The best part of it was how the caddies really played the competition up off our cues. Great guys. Rich says Martin is the best caddie he’s ever met.

[As a side note, later in the evening Rich and I went over the scorecard to discover that I actually won the match, because some holes are given par 5 for women and par 4 for men. Rich jokingly claims this is an invalid technicality since the match was played to an inaccurate score, which affects shot selection. We sure had fun with it.

Back to the Auchterarder 70 bar (where we had beers yesterday) for a well deserved post-round beer. There is a Craft Beer tasting going on and we indulge. I took a shine to a very “hoppy” brew and Rich settled in on the Milk Stout (sounds awful, but is actually very tasty!). We kick back at a window seat to watch the golfers coming in. The England vs Scotland football (soccer) match is on the telly and there is a large, boisterous crowd here. Makes for great atmosphere.

On the way back to our room where all I want to do after the beer is to nap, Rich insists we stop and whip out a game of Lawn Bowling. I have never done this before and am sure I will not be any good at it. Turns out I was wrong! We had a grand time hefting the ball towards the little wooden pins. At times the pins would not stay standing after the being set. Too bad. If you were ready to throw and any pins drop from wind etc. they were considered yours. We play a game to 21 and I nose Rich out at the last minute 21-19!

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I am ready to go up to the room but Rich is desparate for victory. He migrates towards the croquet set. Ok – let’s give it a go. Croquest is definitely his sport. He bangs his ball through wickets and continually moves around the court while I stay stuck just trying to align my ball through the first wicket. Ok – so maybe I let him win…?

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I think he needs a bigger backswing.

Once again it is late when we return to the room. We have a dinner reservation in the Dormy Restaurant at 8:30 and are getting very hungry. We head down that way around 8:00 to see if we can be seated early. Nope. Not to worry. They have a very inviting lounge with seating around a beautiful firepit. One Negroni for me and a Vesper Martini for Rich. The server told us that the Vesper is the kind of martini that James Bond always ordered – part gin and part vodka with a hint of Lillet vermouth. Rich loves it.

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Dinner in the Dormy was great. We shared crab cakes (probably the best item of the night). Rich had the Lamb Stew and I had the fillet. Rich chose a great bottle of Sancerre for us as well.

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Another fantastic day in Scotland. We must leave the Gleneagles tomorrow. We are both wishing we had time to play the other courses here but we are scheduled to be in Machrihanish (west coast) tomorrow. We are stoked about playing the 2 courses there especially after Rich’s caddie (Martin) told him it is one of his favorite places to play in Scotland.

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