The start of our summer links vacation was simply fabulous last week at the Irish Open.
Talk about a dramatic finish — Russell Knox making not one, but two bombs on the 18th green to notch his first-ever European Tour victory.
Knox, a Scottish lad, will be getting a lot of love at this week’s stop — The Scottish Open.
Even more excitement in the air as we’re just a week away from the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie.
But first things first — this should be a great week at Gullane Golf Club.
This is an historic venue — there are three courses, numbered in order by age. Gullane No. 1 is where the championships are staged and it is actually a composite with some holes from No. 2 worked in there.
No. 1 opened for play in 1884 although golf has been played in Gullane for nearly 350 years. Cool thing is the architect of No. 1 remains unknown to this day although Willie Park Jr. did the layouts of No. 2 and No. 3.
Gullane is located in the East Lothian region, east of Ediburgh, just down the road from two sweet courses at North Berwick. Gullane sits on the Firth of Forth — St. Andrews is to the northeast on the other side of the water.
There are plenty of recognizable Americans in this week’s field — Race To Dubai points leader Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler — winner of the 2015 event here at Gullane, and yes, Las Vegas Lefty himself — Phil Mickelson. Mickelson should love Scotland, there are betting storefronts everywhere. Lefty won the Scottish Open in 2013 then went on to win the Open Championship at Muirfeld the following week — first man to accomplish that.
Matt Kuchar is there, so is Charley Hoffman.
From Europe you’ll find Justin Rose, a favorite next week at Carnoustie along with Ian Poulter.
Hideki Matsuyama, who has fallen out of the world’s top 10, now ranked 16th, will be there. The field lost a big name earlier this week when Henrik Stenson withdrew, citing an elbow injury that may cast some doubt over his effectiveness if he gives it a go next week at Carnoustie.
The weather forecast is very Scottish for summertime in East Lothian.
Thursday: 62 high, 56 low — low chance of rain, 10-12 mph winds.
Friday: 66 high, 55 low — best chance of rain (40%), 10-16 mph winds.
Saturday: 70 high, 59 low — only 10% chance of rain, steady 10-15 winds.
Sunday: Same as Saturday except the winds are goin to get up a bit — 15 to 20. Yes!
Don’t look for much sun — mostly cloudy each day.
You will also see larger crowds this week. They love their golf in Scotland and this tournament gets a lot of support. It’s a quick train-ride from Edinburgh.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello is the defending champion, winner last year at the Dundonald Links.
Now that Ireland’s behind us, two weeks in Scotland is pure heaven.
On the courses there, what’s not heaven is the gorse. Awful stuff, waiting to devour golf balls. Notice to all golfers this week or any week in Scotland — avoid the gorse at all costs!
Once again, great early morning viewing on the Golf Channel, Thursday and Friday then a little later start on Saturday and Sunday.
Great way to escape the heat.
This will no doubt make me homesick for Scotland — it’s the best of golf and courses formed by Mother Nature.
It is golf the way it was meant to be played.
Enjoy — then on to Carnoustie!