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Old 07-16-2013, 10:55 AM   #1
Booker Wolfbox
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Thumbs up A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

Aside from the hell that is air travel, the last ten days or so were quite amazing. Trip report coming in this space with many pictures (still sorting those out), but here is a tease:



Mods, feel free to ban me as appropriate. TY.
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Old 07-16-2013, 11:25 AM   #2
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

Nice. When I was there last summer they has scaffolding all over the building behind the 18th green, which kinda detracted from the postcard-type view walking up 18.

Looking forward to the TR.
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Old 07-16-2013, 11:46 AM   #3
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

Preface: United We Hate

So, yeah, I just got back from a golf trip to Scotland. It was the first time I had been and it exceeded expectations in every way.

I made all of the arrangements (for our party of two) after buying and reading Allan Ferguson's Golf in Scotland. If you ever think about making the trip over I definitely recommend this book, his comments and advice were very useful. Thanks to Al Gore, in fact, I set everything up by internet other than one phone call (one course wouldn't take a credit card except over the phone). It wasn't hard at all and it saved us a bunch of money - plus we got to do what we wanted, where and when we wanted.

Air travel was on United, connecting through O'Hare and Newark, direct into Edinburgh. That was a long day - nearly 24 hours from when we left the airport to when we arrived at our lodging. United wasn't any better or worse than any other airline, but holy hell were the seats tiny on the 7 hour leg into Edinburgh. I managed maybe an hour of sleep, kept getting bumped by people moving up and down the aisle.

Edinburgh airport isn't huge but it is very busy so it took us a while to navigate and get set shuttled to our rental car. As we were going through passport control we noticed Alex Miceli (am I getting that right?) from the Golf Channel was on our flight. Everything went smoothly and it was off to St. Andrews.

Thankfully the initial drive wasn't too bad - the combination of being tired and driving on the left was challenge enough, the extensive use of roundabouts added additional fun. I had the route memorized and we were off to our first stop: St. Andrews!
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Old 07-16-2013, 12:03 PM   #4
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

Day 1:

Our flight arrived at 9:45 a.m. and we got checked in by 1:00 p.m. at our lodging. I booked relatively late, so we went the B&B / Guest House route. I submitted a request via the local association's web site and got a bunch of replies. Picked a couple out, looked at their websites and booked. Easy. All of these places are rated by the Tourist Board so I wasn't worried about the quality - all of the places we stayed were 4 star rated.

Lodging for the first two nights was at a B&B on Murray Park, which is two or three blocks from the Old Course. It's lined with B&Bs and is a perfect location. The view down the street:



Since I didn't know how we would feel after all that travel, I did not book a course for the first day. Don't get me wrong, I was tempted. But I didn't. As it turns out we both felt okay and up to a few swings. So it was off to the first course:

The Balgove Couse (St. Andrews Links).

The Balgove is a 9 hole course run by the Links Trust. It was added not that long ago to appeal to beginners and the like. As it is wide open and quite flat, it served as a perfect warmup for two jet-lagged visitors. No tee times are necessary, just show up, pay your ten pounds and play away.

The course is a "Par 30" - three par 4s the rest par 3s. Given that the par 4s are 220, 219 and 298, it's really more like a par 28. But it has nice firm links turf, nicely maintained greens and a great view of the city. Here's an indication of the difficulty: I shot 27-32-59. I drove the green on the first two holes with a 3 iron and I'm a short hitter. It was fun and nice to get used to playing 'links' shots.







Still working on getting pictures sorted - I used both iphone and a camera - so bear with me on that.
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Old 07-16-2013, 12:38 PM   #5
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

this looks like it gonna be a good thread. keep it coming booker.
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Old 07-16-2013, 01:33 PM   #6
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

Yeah so far this is a terrific TR. Can't wait for the rest.
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Old 07-16-2013, 01:38 PM   #7
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

Great Idea
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Old 07-16-2013, 02:15 PM   #8
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

[x] bastard

Last edited by jefkve; 07-16-2013 at 02:15 PM. Reason: Keep em coming op
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Old 07-16-2013, 02:19 PM   #9
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

Great TR so far.
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Old 07-16-2013, 02:31 PM   #10
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

A+
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Old 07-16-2013, 02:57 PM   #11
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

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Old 07-16-2013, 04:39 PM   #12
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

Day 2: Is This Real Life?

After playing the Balgove Course we walked down to the Old Course, looked around and on the way back had a sandwich and a pint outside at one of the hotel restaurants along Pilmour Place. Crashed hard about 8:00 local time which ended up working out perfect, got a solid night of sleep and had no trouble adjusting to the 5 hour time change.

Got up and experienced one of the nice things about staying at a Scottish B&B: Breakfast!



They do breakfast right.

So the plan for this day was originally to play a course down the road ... those plans changed in mid-air. When you're not planning months ahead, one of the ways to get on the Old Course is to put your name in the daily ballot (lottery). One of the awesome things about our lodging was they volunteered to put is in so I didn't have to worry about it while we were traveling. The ballot is drawn two days in advance, so our host put us in for our first day there. I checked the draw from the Newark Airport and ... SCORE. First day in the ballot, we pull an afternoon tee time! I re-booked our schedule course for an open day later in the week and on our first full day in St. Andrews we are playing the Old Course!

To top it off, it was a beautiful day. Hot for Scotland - it got up into the 80s (upper 20s C) with bright sunshine. We had the morning to fill so we played tourist. St. Andrews is not just golf, it's a university town with people from all over the world. There was also a huge conference going on - the Society for Biblical Literature, I think. Best of all it's totally walkable so we could leave the car parked and just hiked it.

I won't fill the TR with too many non-golf pics, but: St. Andrews Castle.



and the Catherdral:



I can't find the cord for my camera so town pics will be a little sparse. Fortunately after a couple days I gave up and just used my phone for everything.

Next: The Old Course. I'd do it now, but ironically I have to go play golf.
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Old 07-16-2013, 10:27 PM   #13
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

Great thread!
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Old 07-17-2013, 03:27 AM   #14
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

holy **** dude, this is awesome. Thanks to mods for sticky. Hope it gets seen. I never see stickies right away.
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Old 07-17-2013, 01:06 PM   #15
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

Day 2 Continued: The OLD COURSE.

After a quick lunch it was time to head for the Old Course. Just a five minute walk down the waterfront ...


The Old Course starter is just left of that tent.

The Links Trust is a well organized operation. We walked up to the starter, paid, rolled a few putts and watched a couple groups tee off.




This wedding party had to wait to cross the 1st and 18th fairways along Grannie Clark's Wynd while some people teed off

We ended up paired with a young guy from England and a guy from Switzerland. Swiss guy was the only one of us to engage a caddy. Tip: definitely have at least one caddy for your group. Having Charlie there identifying the general line of play was quite helpful.


I was glad that it was not me in this bunker

As you might guess, the Old Course is a magical place. For any kind of student of the game, the names just come one after another.






I believe this is the Shell bunker - yes, it really is that big

I had a good day, shooting 43-39-82. I managed to avoid going in the bunkers - a feat which would not be repeated any other day - and the course sets up perfectly for me since all the trouble is on the right. I only had one real bad miss, which ended up great, since my block soared over another tee and ended up cutting off a dogleg.



The most intense shot to me was the tee shot on 17. All four of us stepped up and nailed perfect drives over the corner of the Old Course Hotel.




Approaching the green on the Road Hole. 2 guys found the Road Hole Bunker, neither was able to put their third on the green

Links golf is so different than what we are used to. A highlight for me was nearly driving the par 4 tenth - I must have found the perfect hard spot since my iron ended up 80 yards past the drivers of the rest of the group!

Looking at what I have, I'm a little surprised I didn't take more pictures of the Old Course. Some of that was being paired up and needing to keep pace - we did a lot of looking for golf balls especially on the back nine. Some of it was just enjoying the moment. Regardless, what an amazing place.

Next up: Down the Coast
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Old 07-17-2013, 07:07 PM   #16
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

Keep it coming!!
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Old 07-17-2013, 07:45 PM   #17
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Day 3: Crail

How do you top a day at the Old Course? You don't. But who says you have to top a perfect day to have a great time?

Got up, checked out of lodging, dumped gear in the rental car and off for a late morning tee time 20 minutes down the coast at Crail - Balcomie Links. The Crail Golfing Society (est 1786) has two courses located in the southeastern corner of the kingdom of Fife, two miles outside the village of Crail. To get there was an easy drive down the coast road, past the massive Fairmont St. Andrews and its courses, past Kingsbarns and a bit further on.

The Balcomie Links is an Old Tom Morris layout from 1895 and the scenery is mind-boggling. If you could even find a piece of land like this in the US it would run tens of millions of dollars -- or much more. It is just insane.

How insane, you ask?

Well, this is the view from the visitors locker room:



The first hole:



Other pics:









The photo doesn't do this hole justice - incredibly intimidating. 220 yard severely uphill par 3 with a long carry. I was happy that the wind swatted my shot down short of the junk - I hit a full sand wedge on and was thrilled to 2 putt for bogey!


The monster par 3


view from the clubhouse

I enjoyed playing this course, but have to say that the design was not the best. Old Tom could have used just a bit more land, I think. But the scenery and excellent conditions made it well worth the trip. One of the St. Andrews locals we talked to referred to it as "Kingsbarns at 1/3 the price" - I can't make the comparison but it was a fun play.

I haven't found the scorecard yet but my recollection is that I shot something like 78 or 79 on this par 67 layout. The Old Course score was legit, not so sure about this one ... I wasn't the one keeping score and really wasn't paying much attention.
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Old 07-17-2013, 09:03 PM   #18
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

great stuff OP. I'm totally jealous btw.
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Old 07-17-2013, 09:15 PM   #19
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

Superb
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Old 07-17-2013, 11:57 PM   #20
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

Wow. Crail-Balcomie looks awesome. Man this makes me want to take a trip there someday.
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:29 PM   #21
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

We should organize a 2+2 trip there, and have everyone meet each other for the first time on the first tee at the Old Course.
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:48 PM   #22
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

Day 4: Lundin (Not That London)

After finishing up at Crail, we got checked in at our new lodging and then walked around looking for a place to eat. A lot of the places we tried were booked so it ended up being a pizza place. Sat outside and enjoyed some prime people watching. Have I said yet that St. Andrews is an amazing place?

On the agenda for day 4, breakfast and another seaside links: Lundin Golf Club. Lundin Links is about 20 minutes south and a little west. Another easy drive. And again: What a piece of property.


Practice green


The first four holes go away from the clubhouse along the shore






The Mile Dike. On the other side of the wall is the Leven golf club - they used to share the course including several holes on the Leven side, starting at both ends. Apparently that didn't work and they divided the place up


An interesting consequence - there are several parkland holes up the slope from the links. It's a hybrid course.






headed back toward the clubhouse

I really liked this course. It was a little drier and faster than some of the other courses we played. The design was challenging but not ridiculous. The club secretary was a great guy and talked to us for a while. A very good day.

After finishing up we drove back to St. Andrews and made a time for the next day. Tip: If you visit the Links Clubhouse (which you will if you play the New Course or the Jubilee Course) - walk up a few steps to the rooftop garden for an awesome view. We watched several groups finish on the New. On the other side:


people playing the Himalayas putting course. Oh, and a view.

Dinner was at an italian place we'd made reservations at the day before. Good food - in fact the food was good everywhere. Service was so-so and not up to American standards (opinion).
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:54 PM   #23
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

awesome trip report so far booker.
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Old 07-19-2013, 03:49 PM   #24
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

That putting course is sick, do you need to pay to use that?
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Old 07-20-2013, 03:27 PM   #25
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Re: A Good Week (TR/Warning: Pics)

Wow!! this is amazing.. hope I get to do a Europe golf trip sometime soon.. everyone needs to experience it!
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