Scotland is a country that gladly opens her arms to you.
It is a country filled with amazing people, incredible historic buildings, traditions and atmosphere that needs to be experienced firsthand.
Pictures don’t do it justice.
You simply must see this country and if you love golf, you must experience the uniqueness of a game played when it was born centuries ago.
It was a whirlwind tour, taking us to Kingsbarns, the incredibly wonderful town of New Berwick, the stately grace and extreme difficulty of Muirfield, back to St. Andrews — the world epicenter of golf then finally Carnoustie, where Ben Hogan went one-and-done with the Open Championship in 1953 and it will be the site of the 2018 Open Championship in a little more than eight months (they’re already prepping).
Our home base of Edinburgh was beyond amazing. It has more pubs per capita than any city in the world. It has some of the steepest streets and some amazing ancient sets of steps that are a total cardiovascular challenge.
These are the same streets where Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Walter Scott once walked.
The buildings, many of them, served as backgrounds for the Harry Potter movie franchise.
Once outside the city, there are thousands of acres of beautiful, rolling farmlands. Lots of sheep, hence great wool products from Scotland.
North Berwick caught my attention. The course was spectacular, it is one that you don’t hear that much about. Certainly the only course in the world I’ve seen with four-foot walls in front of some of the greens.
The townspeople are all the place on Sundays, walking their dogs, children, grandparents, everyone. The Scots love their dogs.
Muirfield was an experience in and of itself.
The course demands your best. Didn’t have mine that day and it left me on the wrong side of 100 with winds properly beating us into submission.
The noon members buffet made it worth the abuse. Best food I’ve eaten in a long, long time. Who says the food in Scotland is not good? One myth busted.
Another were the courses. All were green, pretty lush, in great shape. They were not brown and burnt out. Another myth busted.
Then there was The Old Course.
There in the shadow of the R&A clubhouse, you tee off into history.
It may not be the best, may not have the most stunning views, but it has the history and our game is about the history.
My memorable moment, forever etched into my mind, was a perfect drive over the corner of the Old Course Hotel.
Finally, we would be remiss if we did not leave without a thank-you to our entire gang of players, gathered from over the U.S.
First and foremost, Tampa PGA Professional David Stewart was the ultimate host and guide. Perfect guy with the perfect last name for Scotland. He and wife Taryn are veteran U.K., Scotland and Ireland travelers. Dave knew all the ropes, got us on the best courses, couldn’t have made this trip better for all of us.
Jay Miller — former national championship soccer coach at the University of Tampa, soccer coaching resume unlike any other, now retired as The Squire of Big Canoe, Georgia. Jay always has the best stories.
Roy Wagner — Warwick, R.I., shall forever be known as the darkness defiler of the Road Hole Bunker.
Jim Brahm — attempted to set the record for landing in the most pot bunkers on The Old Course. Probably happy to be home in St. Petersburg today.
Ron Burniske — set birdie record for three-straight on The Old Course. His friends back home will be hearing about that for a while.
Bill Kinross — set a record for most pictures taken. The Cattle Barron of Chicago, Bill struck fear in herds of cattle everywhere we went.
Mike Lauder — last and certainly never the least. Has the best-swing ever for a 17-handicapper. Might make you question that handicap until something happens that affirms it. Mike was the only guy to hit it out of play on the first at St. Andrews — the world’s widest fairway. Another member of our Tampa gang.
Sorry Mike, couldn’t resist.
That was our crew, a great one, enjoyed them all.
And enjoyed Scotland more than I can ever tell you.