My usual Friday mornings include going to the M&M Diner for coffee with Gaylen Blosser, Dale Musser and Roger Etzel. We solve the world’s problems and talk about all kinds of things, this morning (July 16th) it evolved into the British Open.
Gaylen asked what I thought was the toughest golf course in the world? I had to think about that one for a while. Of course, my answer would be subjective because tough to some is not so tough to others. However, after a little thought, and watching and playing a lot of golf, I came up with what I thought were the 2 toughest.
These two I have played and watched for years on T.V., I enjoyed both, but one of them my fellow golfer and friend, Randy Breaden, will tell you is really tough……no matter who you are!
It seems whenever tough golf courses come up by commentators and Pro Golfers on T.V. I always hear the name Carnoustie. Randy and I have played Carnoustie, and its reputation is well deserved.
Carnoustie is in Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland, about 45 minutes northeast of the world famous St. Andrews. Carnoustie is long, and the weather is usually bad, blowing wind off the North Sea, a little rain, and usually cool. Of course, being Scotland, it can change in 30 seconds…….and get worse!
There is a little river called the “Barry Burn” that runs through the course and catches every golf ball you have! The 17th and 18th holes is where it really comes into play, I know because I was in it on the 18th hole!
The funny thing about the course though is I really enjoyed playing it. I played well there, but I really had to concentrate on what I was doing.
To give you an example, on the first tee, Randy and I played with two fellows named Mike (honestly!) from South Africa. One of the Mikes teed up and hit what looked like a good shot…..until his caddy threw him another ball and said in a thick Scottish accent, “hit another laddie, that one’s oot of bounds!”
Mike said that couldn’t be because he was just left of center…to make a long story short, he was out of bounds!
The day we played was windy with a little rain and dreary, all day. Want to know how tough it is? If you break 80, they give you a round wooden medallion that says “I broke 80 at Carnoustie” on it!
The one saving grace was talking to our caddies and enjoying their stories, but Carnoustie, and its people were a joy for me. You’ll have to ask Randy about his trip around The Championship course.
The other course I think is really tough is Old Head in Kinsale, Ireland. Located in County Cork, on the southwest coast of Ireland, the course is on a headland that reaches 2 miles into the Atlantic.
The wind is always blowing there in some fashion. On the 4th hole there is a lighthouse that is world famous for being the point where a mile at sea, the Lusitania was sunk in the first World War.
There are no bailouts on that course! It is either going to be in the rough, bounce off a cliff, or in the ocean! The day we played the wind was blowing about 50 miles an hour, and our caddy told us on one hole to “hit it at the ocean, and ride the wind into the blessed fairway!” (We did, he was right!)
These two courses are tough, but the caddies and the Scottish people make it an experience. If you are a golfer, put these on your bucket list, you will love it! You can learn a lot about golf and life from caddies. They are a joy to be around.
I have to tell you one quick story from my caddy I had at Lahinch Golf club, in County Clare, Ireland. This was not only a golf lesson, it was a life lesson too, and I have never forgotten it. We were on the first tee and we hadn’t had much time to warm up.
Our group had caddies that obviously loved life and golf. Anyway, the first drive I hit, was in some light rough. I could have played it, but my caddy said “AYE, HIT ANOTHER LADDY, TODAY WE PLAY FOR FUN!”
Later on in the round, one of the Gentlemen playing with us was complaining about how he was playing and scoring. My caddy looked at me and in that wonderful Scottish brogue said “You Americans worry too much about the score! Today, with the sun a shining and a slight breeze a blowin, par might be 72 or 74. Aye, but when the north wind is a howling and she’s sleeting straight across your face, par may be 80. Just enjoy the walk with your friends and let the score be what it is.”
Wise people, the Scots. Maybe we all need to not worry about the score we shoot in life, just enjoy what it is! That’s the way I see it, from the sidelines!
Contributing columnist Mike Stegall a 27 year former OHSAA high school football official and current Darke County Commissioner