SI Vault
Dan Jenkins
August 11, 1969
It is statute an ordinit that in na place of the realme be there usit...Golfe or uther sik unprofitabill sportis. —JAMES IV to Parliament in Edinburgh May 16, 1491
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August 11, 1969

A Personalized History Of Scottish Golf Or You'll Not Do That Here, Laddie

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"Simply marvelous tour," he said. "You'll see a bit of it all. Turnberry, for example, pitched right there on the Firth of Clyde. Tees practically hanging on the water like Pebble. And Prestwick with those slender fairways and blind shots, and seven bloody 5 pars. Too outdated for the Open Championship, of course, but mind you, the Pine Valley of Scotland in a way. And wonderful Old Troon. The Postage Stamp green. One of the first sharp-angled doglegs. I say, Arnie argued a good case there, didn't he?"

"Aye," I said.

"Then to the East Coast. That's your story," Keith said. "You'll quarter in The Old Course Hotel, naturally, right where the railway sheds were on the Road Hole. Walk out on your terrace and spit in the Principal's Nose, by Jove. With the new bridge you can reach Carnoustie in an hour now. Good old somber Carnoustie, the Barry Burn and all that. And then, of course, there's Muirfield. Marvelous place, Muirfield. Not a burn on it, you see. Just 165 bunkers. You'll see a bit of sand there, I'd guess."

"Aye, Aye," I said.

"Best of luck," he said. "See you at St. Andrews. We'll have a bit of port. It goes well in the Big Room."

For some evil reason, some death wish that perhaps is concealed within us all, the first thing a touring golfer is captivated by in Scotland is the plant life adjacent to all fairways. The heather, whin, bracken and broom. Turn-berry, my first stop, had all of these other landmarks to dwell upon—holes hanging on the Firth of Clyde, as Mackenzie said, the Spitfire runways now bordered by wild flowers, a bird sanctuary on an island off in the distance, the huge hotel on the hill where God Save the Queen reverberates from the orchestra pit in the ballroom at night through all of the tearooms and the RAF monument at the 12th green commemorating those men from Turn-berry's aerial fighting and gunnery school who died in combat. But I was preoccupied with the rough.

You find yourself having this running commentary with your caddie as if he's a botanist in his checkered James Cagney cap, his coat and tie and scruffy face that hasn't been shaved since the last air raid. His name is Jimmy or Peter or Ginger or Tip or Cecil and chances are he caddied for Hagen at Hoylake in 1924.

"What am I in here?" I asked my caddie at Turnberry on the very first hole. "Is this gorse?"

"Not likely," he said. "I think that's a bush."

Your caddie is a warm, friendly man who knows his golf. You swing once and he knows your distances. If he says the shot is "a wee seven," you'd better hit it wee-ly or a dozen of you with machetes won't be able to find the ball behind the green.

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