Say it ain’t so you say. Oh, but it is. Read here to find out why and start putting pressure on golf course developers so we can all go out and have more fun on the golf course.
I lived in Europe a few years back which made it possible for me to go to Scotland on a couple of occasions to play golf. What a treat! First the Scots must be the nicest most friendly people in the world. And, when they find out you’re a golfer they take it up a notch. If you can afford it, and it does cost to fly across the pond these days, you won’t be disappointed. Because the people are great and the courses are great fun.
In the US we play target golf, maybe not TPC target golf, but target golf nonetheless compared to Scottish golf. Most holes have a clearly defined tee, fairway, rough and green. The fairways are pretty flat by Scottish standards and the greens are fairly small.
They are protected by traps at better courses and have a nice little fringe around them. All pretty straight forward stuff. After awhile the average courses most of us play begin to look a lot alike, the only difference being the quality of the turf, length of the rough and how many stones are in the traps.
Well, not Scottish courses. The first thing you notice looking at a Scottish links course is – where is it. Often it’s hard to discern tees and greens. What you do see are sand dunes and scrub next to the ocean. With very little imagination you feel it probably looked exactly the same 1000 years ago.
The fairways are not clearly distinguished. Standing on a tee it’s a bit difficult to see the greens even though they’re basically in front of you. There are often two or three viable paths to the green, separated by gorse, heather and what look to be Viking burial grounds. And each path has it’s own risk and reward. That means the fairways alone give you many different holes disguised as one.
And then comes the real fun part – the greens. Sometimes big undulating things with a million different scenarios depending on pin placement. Often, shooting for the pin is not an option. You must decide whether you want an uphill put with a 15 foot break, or a downhill put with a ridge between you and the pin.
And that’s only half of it. Wait until the wind starts blowing. Actually it most always blows, you have to wait for it not to blow and in that case you had better be prepared to stay a month or two. If you don’t have a knockdown shot, don’t bother to go. Loft a full wedge up in the air and it may not even come down in the same county. But then again, with many holes having open fronts you can often use a putter from 20 yards off the green.
It all takes me back to miniature golf. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing tricked up about these courses. But you find yourself smiling even if you make a few snowmen. It’s fun, it’s whacky, it makes you feel like you’ve invented the game – ‘Hey Joe, see that rock way over by that gorse hummock, let’s see who can take the fewest shots to get there.’ It sure doesn’t hurt knowing that there’s always a couple of good pints waiting for you when you finish.
Top photo: Cruden Bay Golf Club, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Second Photo: Waterville Golf Links, Ring of Kerry, Ireland
Both photos courtesy of: GolfClubAtlas