Safety Bunkers

There remains a distinct possibility that we drank too much whisky the night before.

However, this day was Golf day, so we had to brighten up and be out on the links for our time. Playing Golf in Scotland is in just about every golfer’s list. When we planned the trip, I was thrilled to come out to play, with one caveat – It’s a Trump Course. Apparently he’s purchased A big chunk of the major courses, so it was this or nothing. It’s also Turnberry – a 100 year old, beautiful and famous course. I didn’t want to spoil such a change that I might not see again. So off we go.

The shuttle took us from the Castle over to the course. It’s a fair drive back up the coast, maybe 20 minutes. We were dropped at the front of the clubhouse. I’ll admit it was a beautiful layout. The clubhouse sat right in the middle of the course, which was on the rocky coastline. The hill behind us had the white facade of the hotel, and it stretched out across the top of the hill. We went in to get our Club rentals. I noticed that most of the gear for sale was labeled “Turnberry” with the older logo, not “Trump Turnberry”. There were some newer items, but the older appeared more popular. Can’t imagine why.

We walked with our clubs over to take some practice shots to warm up at the driving range. I don’t play all that often, and it really shows. I had balls flying all over the place. I hit a few OK shots, but hopefully I would get a little better when we were out and walking for a while. This was going to be a lot of walking – There are no carts on this course. That also meant we hired caddies to help us out. They were there to carry the clubs, but also to give us advice on which club to use, and where to aim. I had pity for these guys as we all looked pretty embarrassing.

With our caddies in tow, we headed out on the course. All three were older gentlemen, in their late 60’s. They knew the course backwards and forwards, and we apologized from the start for the “Golf” they were about to witness. We didn’t bother to keep score, but were just out to play and have a good time. We were a mess from the start, I lost a ball on the first shot, and took a drop further up. All three of us were in and out of the rough the entire time. If we took it seriously, it would have been embarrassing, but considering how little I practice, I thought I was doing OK. I just kept taking drops as needed and slowed down, and I got a few OK drives and some not bad putts.

I split most of my time in the rough and in the sand bunkers. I started referring to hitting into the bunker as “bunkers for safety”, as I could at least find my ball there. After nine holes, we walked into the Halfway house. That was a lighthouse on the coast right in the middle of the course. It was built on top of the ruins of the castle where Robert the Bruce was born. It stands right on an outcropping in the middle of the coastline. Our golf may have been terrible, but the scenery was truly amazing. We had a snack, rested for a bit, then got some photos and continued.

The next section of the course was part of an old RAF base from WWII. The runway was still there, and only partially covered. On a hill there is a memorial to the RAF soldiers that were lost in the war. It was strange to see in the middle of a golf course, but it was a nice memorial overall. The sun had come out by this point, we were pretty surprised. The weather report had predicted rain, and we were dressed for it. We abandoned out raingear and were starting to actually overheat. I was an idiot and actually forgot a hat. Fortunately the sun wasn’t too harsh and I wasn’t burning, but we were sweating enough.

Coming up the back nine, we had one hole where all three of us hit great shots off the tee. Nice and straight, landing in the middle of the fairway. Henry’s caddy was shocked that we could actually play golf! I mentioned, “Yes, we’ve been fooling you this whole time.” He responded, “You did a good job fooling”

That we did.

We finished our round on the famous hole from the “Duel in the Sun” from the 1977 Open Championship. Tom Watson beat Jack Nicklaus by a single stroke. I remember seeing videos of that, so it was strange to play on the same hole. We were fading fast at this point. We thanked and paid our caddies, and went up to the bar to wait for our shuttle.

While we waited, I checked the weather for the next day. We were supposed to take a boat out to the Distilleries in Islay, where I was going to spread my grandfather’s ashes. I’d been concerned by the weather and the sunned sun break today wasn’t giving me a lot of confidence. It said that winds during our trip would hit up to 24 MPH. That’s a Small Craft Advisory, and dangerous to boat in. I texted Rob, who was setting this up, and after checking, he replied that the trip was still on.

This was going to be interesting.

Our shuttle finally arrived two G&T’s later. We were tired, and piled into the van. Despite terrible scores and terrible owners, Turnberry golf was an amazing course. It was an experience.

Back at the castle, Yulia and Sasha told me how they spent the day relaxing and then took a long walk to town. It was a small town right next to the castle, with farms and animals along the road. they had a group of baby cows come out to greet them, then further up sheep were at the fence. In town the met an older man running a carriage repair business. As in horse-drawn carriages. I’m not sure that’s really a growth industry, but you never know. They grabbed lunch at a local pub, and as expected everything was fresh and amazing. This far out in Scotland, the food is fantastic. There aren’t a lot of food miles on the ingredients, and it really shows in the meals we are getting.

In the middle of dinner, we got a message. The boat trip had been cancelled by the captain due to the oncoming winds. I wasn’t surprised at all. I’m sure he wanted to wait for the report to be solid, and It wasn’t changing from what I saw earlier. It was disappointment, but safety first. This also meant I would have to find another place to spread Larry’s ashes. I could figure that out later.

After dinner, most folks went to bed earlier. A few of the guys grabbed some scotch and hung out on the couches talking. It wasn’t heavy drinking like the night before, but just a long chat until people started to fall asleep where they were sitting.

Not too Shabby