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bkuehn1952 on the Swilcan Bridge
How I Spent My Summer Vacation Part 1
By bkuehn1952 on 7/11/13
As some oobers may know, I recently made my first pilgrimage to St. Andrews, Scotland. My wish is that all oobers have the opportunity to make a similar trip. No one needs to hear all the details of my golf game over there but I learned a few things and have a few bits of advice.
  • Edinburgh: Most of us in the USA think of this town as "Edinboro". Yet if you look at the name, there aren't any o's, are there? Take Pittsburgh, for example. We don't say "Pittsboro", do we? I asked our guide how the Scots got the pronunciation for their capitol. She said that they actually are saying "Ed-in-bur-rah" and "burgh" is "bur-rah" to them.

  • Best advice: As I prepared to blast out of a greenside bunker into the teeth of a 40 mph breeze, my caddie advised me to "Swing firmly and keep yer mout shut".

  • 2nd Best Advice: An article said to always make sure you get out of the bunker in one shot, even if it means going backwards or sideways. On the first afternoon in Scotland, we played a warm-up round on the "easy" Strathtyrum course. On the second hole I was introduced to sod-faced bunkers. Although the ball lay very close to the steep face, I was pretty sure I could open my sand wedge up enough to pop it over the 6 foot high face. Wrong. The ball bounced back into the bunker and, like most unsuccessful attempts, created a fried egg lie. Now chastened, I went to hit it out sideways and failed to extricate the ball from the fried egg. My 3rd attempt proved successful and I went on to card a "quad". Lesson learned.

  • Caddies: Caddies are not required and many players carry or use a push cart. If you play "the Old", however, you really need someone to guide you through the course. There are many times that the correct shot is not obvious. The typical caddie fee in 2013 is around £45 to £50 ($68 to $75). A decent tip is about £20 (or $30) so a caddie is not cheap. A caddie, however, is well worth the cost on some courses like the Old Course and Carnoustie.

  • Walkers: The general public can stroll around the Old Course at no cost. Lots of players are followed by a small entourage of girl friends, wives or relatives.

  • Tie Lies:I thought I had played on some tight lies but nothing compares to the turf in Scotland. The ground is really firm and there is almost -0- cushion provided by the grass. Looking back on it, I should have sought out a driving range with hard pan and practiced on that.

  • Haggis: Ahh, nothing like chopped entrails served up in a sheep stomach. Despite the advice from our Scottish hosts that Haggis is mostly oatmeal and spices, we avoided this delicacy until the last evening. Then, under the influence of several Tennant lagers, we all partook of Scotland's signature food item. It tasted and had the consistency of spicy meatloaf. Give it a try when you visit.

  • Gorse, Heather and Trees: Gorse is the greenish bush one sees in the rough at the various Scottish "Open" venues. You do not want to mess with gorse as it has thorns. It is Scotland's answer to cacti. The heather (or rough) varies from moderate length grass and wispy stalks to dense, lush vegetation. One can get great lies or horrendous lies depending on a single bounce. As with the advice about bunkers, getting the ball back into play is of paramount importance. Finally, as near as we could tell, there is a collective total of one tree on the St. Andrews Links Trust courses. It is on the back nine of the "New Course" and yours truly almost managed to hit what we referred to as "the only tree in Scotland". If you are looking for tree-lined courses, St. Andrews is not your kind of place.

  • Observation Deck: The Old Course Hotel has an observation deck on the fourth floor that gives one a view of the 17th tee and fairway. Conveniently, they serve adult beverages on the deck. Many an evening was spent out on the deck "encouraging" the players preparing to tee off on the "Road Hole". A good tee shot requires one to hit the tee shot over the former railroad warehouse (now hotel offices). Too far left and deep rough waits. A little right and you hit the hotel, as the broken windows and scarred exterior will attest. Occasionally a wayward shot can scatter the "observers" as a ball ricochets around the deck. I highly recommend giving this spot a visit.

  • Kilts: On our last evening we all wore rented formal kilted suits (bow tie, white shirt, vest & jacket, knee socks, kilt, etc.). I have to admit, our group looked pretty darn good. And a kilt is really comfortable. What does one wear under a kilt, you may ask? I am not going there.
Any of my fellow oobers planning a trip to Scotland? Share your thoughts. Hey, let's hear from our Scottish oobers, too!

This was written by Brian Kuehn, a reader/follower/fellow oober and the opinions are 100% his and do not reflect those of oobgolf in anyway. Enjoy! I'm sure he's ready for your feedback.

Have an idea for a guest column? Send it here!

[ comments ]
mjaber says:
I have broached the subject with my wife, and as soon as we can scrounge up the funds, we're going. She has no interest in golf, but would love to visit the country. It'd be interesting if she, and my daughter (who may or may not play), were to follow me around the Old Course. I wish courses in the states allowed that.
jasonfish11 says:
My wife has family in Scotland. So we are going to go when our son is old enough to make the flight.

I did tell her that I request at least 2 weeks there and 3-4 rounds of golf. She had no problem with that.
bducharm says:
Awesome! I lived in England for 3 years while I was serving in the US Air Force. I made a trip to St. Andrews for basically 36 hours. I played the New Course and the Eden Course while there. I stayed in a B&B (bed and breakfast) for 15 pounds. The New Course cost maybe 20 pounds and the Eden was 10 pounds. Beautiful country...
joe jones says:
Wonderful article . I see this is number 1 of what I hope are more. Brings back wonderful memories for me. I could write a book about the caddy's alone and hope you had similar experiences.
birdieXris says:
The father-in-law, brother-in-law, and myself are in the works for a "Scotch tour" one of these days. They said i should play the Old course while we're there. I'm not opposed :O)
Matt McGee says:
"Swing firmly and keep yer mout shut."
I believe my fellow golfers have given me this exact same advice. Funny thing, though... my ball wasn't even in the sand.
snkli says:
Great article and can't wait for Part 2!

I'm trying to get a group of folks I play w/ to go to Scotland. If you have any info. on how you booked & arranged the trip that would be great to hear also.
joe jones says:
My favorite Rota.St. Andrews old course, St. Andrews new course, Jubilee, Troon and Muirfield. I removed Carnoustie. It ate my lunch twice and that was enough to turn me off. Every other course was fun and I enjoyed each for the experience I had.
jpjeffery says:
Nice write up, BK. So close, and yet still so far.
jfurr says:
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