Edition 1453
09 December 2017
Edition: 1453

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

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Raw golf

in Sport · 30-11-2017 14:06:00 · 0 Comments

The drive from Edinburgh to Gullane is an education in links golf and the heritage of the game. With Gullane and its three courses, Loughness New and Muirfield all located within a mile and a half of each other, they really show an embarrassment of riches within a very close proximity.

Raw golf

I had the pleasure of playing one of the oldest golf courses, some might say the wee brother along that stretch. It is the thirty-fifth oldest to be exact. The Kilspindie course is presently celebrating its 150th anniversary and, whilst not the longest course by any standards, it really is a tough test of golf. At 5502 yards, off the back pegs you would think it a minnow compared to the other courses in the area. At 8.30 in the morning, at the end of November, there is nothing diminutive about the course or the experience. Golf at its essence, how the game has been played for centuries.
A good friend of mine is a member there. Fiona and I were attending his wife’s retirement do in Edinburgh that evening, so the invitation of playing was extended and promptly accepted by yours truly. I was then informed that it would be a four ball with two dear friends of his. One of whom was going to Murrayfield that afternoon, to watch Australia vs Scotland, hence the 8.30am tee time.
As the date came closer, what the weather was going to do started to become a topic of concern. It looked like it was going to be above freezing, so snow was going to be avoided. The wind was going to be a ten mile an hour zephyr, with the sun out promising outstanding views of the coastline and beyond.
All looked good, until Lawrence announced at dinner the night before that the members, who live in town, “pay little attention to the weather forecast because Kilspindie has its own weather system.” Something due to a combination of the Gulf Stream, the Firth of Forth and the notorious wind in those parts, apparently. After realising that I wasn’t fazed by the temperature difference, he hoped I had enough layers for the game in the morning.
I had five, carefully picked, layers on top, two layers below, a cap, golf mittens and hand warmers for the jaunt. Also prepared was the food and liquid, all set I thought. I was ready for the weather and more than enough fuel for the duration. A warm-up routine was prepared ready for the round, a combination of lunges, stretches and Pilates, all to get me warm on the first tee. I may even hire an electric trolley so that my hands could be free and warm in my mittens.
The clubs being borrowed were looking good. The only eventuality, which had not been even considered, was that I was in the company of amateurs who have their own pace of play. This became abundantly apparent as soon as Lawrence announced, in the locker room, that we had to be on the tee in three minutes.
Gone was the warm-up routine, the pencil bag I had been given could only hold the previously purchased water and muffins. No chance of a trolley, no chance of a couple of balls being clipped into a net. We were live in three minutes and I had to be ready to play. The light wind was now at thirty miles an hour, the sun had no warmth, but the hills across the estuary had a beautiful covering of snow.
The pace of play was such that, as a four ball, we covered the eighteen holes in two hours and fifty-five minutes. The wind, when cooperating, reduced a two-hundred-and-sixty-yard par four to a three iron. When being particularly difficult, the same distance required a driver and a nine iron.
This was golf stripped down to its core, its raw elements, amongst the most bleak, yet stunning environment. It took me twenty-four hours to get my body temperature to above room temperature. I shot level par and lost 2-1.
You would think reading this that I had a horrible time. Yet, it was a magnificent experience, given the chance I would do it again in a heartbeat. It is in stark contrast to the golf I have been used to playing, but an experience not to be missed.

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Edition 1453
09 December 2017
Edition: 1453

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter