We suppose everybody has his own private Shangri-la. For many of the golfing-afflicted here at SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, it's the Royal Dornoch Golf Club in Scotland, somewhere between the Loch Ness Monster and Dunrobin Castle in the misty Scottish Highlands.
Certainly that's true for managing editor Mark Mulvoy, who has been known to forget a suitcase but never his golf clubs. He ranks Dornoch as his favorite overseas course. So smitten was Mulvoy by its beauty and challenge that he dispatched senior writer Rick Reilly and photographer Jacqueline Duvoisin to Dornoch's annual Golf Week for some golf and "tuition," as the Scots call lessons, and to capture the place for the unlucky who haven't yet been. The result of their labors begins on page 66.
Duvoisin and Reilly encountered plenty of strange and beguiling sights: an ancient castle that had some very strange houseguests; a mystical caddie; and the most frightening thing of all, Reilly's golf swing.
"I'm used to golfers like Greg Norman, who have perfect control of the ball," says Duvoisin. "But with Rick...well...let's just say that after a while, I shot everything from behind." Anyway, it was a joyous, memorable week in Dornoch—until, that is, the final night.
"We were at a party in the clubhouse," Reilly recalls. "This woman pulled me aside. She seemed upset. She put a finger to my chest and said, 'You! You and your magazine are going to ruin Dornoch. Americans will come here and trample this place. It'll never be the same!' "
Reilly worried. "I remember I walked back to the hotel that night—under this beautiful moon, with Dornoch Firth over one shoulder and the sky so clear—and I thought, Is she right? I mean, I hope not. I don't think anybody that comes to a place like Dornoch could ruin it."
If you do get lucky and make it to Dornoch, do us a favor: Mind the ghosts and the golf balls and try to leave it just as you found it. Everybody deserves to see Dornoch the way Reilly's words and Duvoisin's pictures have sculpted it.