This is a story about three golf courses in three different countries, and a single day: Tuesday, July 25, 1967. Although I intend to keep it as short as possible, it appears to me to be essential, if only for the record, to bring out certain facts that predated that day.
For a period of two years I had given a great deal of thought to the possibility of playing three golf courses in three countries on the same day. The idea had come from a trip I made to Scotland in 1965 during which I had played six golf courses: Troon, Carnoustie, Muirfield, The King's of Gleneagles, the Queen's of Gleneagles and St. Andrews, the last three in one day.
The three-country idea developed to the planning state last spring, and by the time I was ready to leave on vacation on July 7th, I was committed to carry out my project, if for no other reason than that I had told so many of my friends and associates that it could be done. The important thing to me was that the three courses be of championship caliber and be well known in Europe and in the United States. I settled on the Old Course of St. Andrews in Scotland, the Old Course at Sunningdale in England and St.-Cloud in Paris.
My initial thought had been to play St.-Cloud first, Sunningdale second and finish up at St. Andrews. By doing it that way I could have taken advantage of the late sunset that makes it possible to play golf in Scotland until about 10:30 p.m.
As I got closer to tee-off time, however, I decided to reverse the order so that I could play the last of my rounds with three friends living in Paris, friends who had expressed their willingness (they were kind enough to call it desire) to participate in the final stage of my adventure. All four of us were vacationing with our families in a delightful corner of Majorca called Casa Serena when we picked Tuesday, July 25th, as the day, with the understanding that I would be at St.-Cloud, dressed and ready to tee off by 5 p.m. at the latest.
The days passed quickly in the south of England, where I was spending the remainder of my vacation with my wife, son and in-laws. Then, suddenly, it was Monday, July 24th. I had better explain right off that absolutely no arrangements of any kind, airplane, hotel, car rental, golf, etc., had been made beforehand. This was part of the project.
I left Folkestone (70 miles southeast of London) in early afternoon, and I must say my departure was hardly encouraging—a flat tire less than 200 yards from home. It was questionable logic to leave without a spare, since another flat probably would have ended my golf day before it had begun. But I decided to leave anyway.
Fortunately, the rest of the drive to London airport was without incident. The flight from London to Edinburgh arrived as scheduled at 5 p.m. As soon as it had landed I went to the counters of the two car-rental companies and was told by both that there were no cars available and none was expected to be turned in until the following day. Since I needed one for the 70-mile drive to St. Andrews and, of course, I would have to have one in the morning in order to get back to the airport after my round at St. Andrews, a very empty feeling came over me. Probably because of what must have been my look of absolute dejection, the representative of "No. 2" came over to me to ask how long I would need a car. When I assured him that I would have it back in the morning by 7:30 at the latest, he gave me the only car he had—one that was being held for a 9 a.m. reservation on the 25th.
The drive to St. Andrews was uneventful (but beautiful), although it took somewhat longer than I had felt it would. I was concerned by the time element, because it suddenly made me realize that I would have to have finished my first round and leave St. Andrews by 6 a.m. to be sure of getting to Edinburgh airport in time for the 7:55 flight to London—and also to be on time returning my rented car. Assuming that it would take me two hours to complete the round, this meant that I would have to tee off at St. Andrews at 4 a.m.
As soon as I arrived in St. Andrews, I went to the Old Course to arrange for a caddy cart and to pay my green fee in advance. This seemed wise since I would be starting so early.