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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Such a hole was the 4th at Turnberry, which bears the name Woe-Be-Tide. It is a 175-yard one-shotter. You practically stand on the firth and hit into a crosswind to a green about as big as your golf bag, with more water on the left and the hounds of the Baskervilles on your right.

"What am I in now?" I asked, having hit a firth-lock safely to the right. "Is this heather?"

"That," he said, "is gorse. You ca'na swing softly, Sir, and be way o' the gorse."

"Gorse is whin, right?"

He said, "Aye, the whins we call it. You ca'na plant the whin and neither will the whin die. The whin is just here where it always was."

I took a forceful swing with a sand iron, moving the ball about one foot, and said, "Don't forget to show me the heather when we find some."

"Aye," he said. "That's heather you're in now."

You can't often find the ball in heather. It is a stubby dwarf plant, all matted and wiry, brown at times, purple at others. You can top a shot with a driver and, whereas in America the ball is likely to run for a hundred or so yards, if in Scotland it finds a cluster of heather only a few yards away, it will go flimp—and either disappear forever or bound straight back to you.

I could see at least half of the ball there in the heather, and I took a full swipe at it with the wedge, so hard that the caddie counted all of the cleats in my shoes and the veins in my legs, and the noise I made sounded like the Luftwaffe had returned to drop another load on the docks at Glasgow.

And the ball didn't move at all.

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