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"Who's coming back?"
"Dr. Robertson," MacPhee said. "I heard that he may come back soon."
If Old Tom Morris designed Askernish, he may have designed the South Uist roads as well. The island's principal north-south highway is a one-lane road. Cars and lorries race toward each other at turnpike speeds before braking suddenly and pulling off at passing bays positioned every quarter mile or so.
I drove eight miles of this shared fairway after lunch on our last day. My destination was the hamlet of Bornish, where I was told I would find the Catholic Church of St. Mary's. Voy had offered its pastor, Canon Angus MacQueen, as the ultimate authority on the local links. "He's chairman of the historical society and a great local character," Voy said. "And he plays golf."
St. Mary's rectory, a stone house behind a picket fence, stood on a hillock 100 yards or so above the church. No one answered my ring, but I heard voices out back, and that's where I found Canon MacQueen. A gray-haired, barrel-chested man in his 60's, the canon was bent over a concrete walkway, tending a collection of purple and lavender seaweeds. He wore only shorts and sandals. A few feet away a young man in a bathing suit sat in a lawn chair, sunbathing.
"This is milk pudding," the canon explained, once we had gotten the introductions out of the way. He separated the ingredients for me—carrageen moss seaweed and water. It wasn't clear to me if this was a pud one ate or a pud one employed as a garden mulch. It's still not clear to me.
The canon's house guest was Peter Boyd from the nearby isle of Barra. "Just in to play some golf at Askernish," Boyd said cheerily. "It's a beautiful wee course."
The priest agreed. They had, in fact, just returned from a morning round.
When I asked if it was true about Old Tom Morris designing Askernish, Boyd jumped in: "Oh, yes, definitely." How did he know? "I saw it in writing in a golfing magazine."
Canon MacQueen shrugged. The historian in him plainly distrusted such a source. "I'll tell you what I know of its history," he began, "but it's not much, I'm afraid."