On Halloween we have put together some scary surprises that await you on your next golf trip to Scotland. With many dark and scary spots waiting for you at The Home of Golf, hidden away within our deep pot fairway bunkers here’s our trick or treat bag of Scottish golf.
Knees knock, palms sweat and grown men cry on the first tee at The Home of Golf. When teeing it up in St Andrews in front of the R&A Clubhouse you have likely dreamt this moment a million times. As your heart races you remember all the greats who you have watched tee it up on the same very spot where you stand now. The sense of anticipation is tangible. The public gather as they always seem to do in the natural amphitheatre and then you look out at the mass of links that awaits you. The largest fairway in the world perhaps but your ball as it sits on the tee looks as small as it ever has done before. This is definitely trick initially but once the nerves settle and you pop your drive down the fairway it will suddenly feel like the biggest treat in golf.
Placing your bag down next to the caddyshack at any of our courses here in Scotland you will soon be met with the sound of shuffling feet and then the grunt. ‘Alright, I’m Jimmy for 10.20?’ Before you know it your bag is whisked away and without knowing it you are off to the first tee. Not even time for pleasantries. As you gaze at your senior guide for the day your caddy rips of your head cover and passes you the driver. Your instructions are simple, ‘Doon the middle, aye laddie no mulligans here just 3 off the tee.’ This raw approach while at first appearing to be rude or unwelcoming is the culture. That’s the trick. But as you walk with your caddy during your round you soon understand that this rude caddy is actually just a rough diamond. Some of the most genuine and interesting people you meet when golfing in Scotland are your caddies. Most members, ambassadors for their golf club with the rest just good caddies.
The Godfather of horror, did you know Dracula was Scottish? Author of the world famous novel Dracula, Bram Stoker in 1893 travelled to Scotland’s northeast to seek refuge from the publicity he had amassed as a world famous novelist. This turned out to be a 17 year love affair with Cruden Bay, where Stoker would base himself in the heart of the village staying at the Kilmarnock Arms which is still open today. During one of his summer visits in 1895 the book was written. Inspiration was taken from Slains Castle where Dracula is said to have resided. The castle built in 1597 overlooks the golf course and is perched perilously close to the crumbling cliffs on the edge of the northsea. Some even go as far to say that the Scars, a rocky and hazardous rock range at the south side of the course inspired the infamous fangs of the vampire. All this at the same time another world famous man was also in town, the great Old Tom Morris who was helping design and open the golf course. So next time you tee it up at Cruden Bay peer out to Slains Castle and remember Dracula, the mad Cruden Bay local.
A trick. Before your trip you will have heard the scare stories of Scotland’s road networks and crazy drivers. Much are true. At the airport you head for the car rental only to be shown to your vehicle, a miniature to what you had imagined a large minivan would be. To compound the situation its manual shift stick right hand drive and you have 63 miles to your destination. Driving on the narrow Scottish roads to some of Scotland’s rural spots is difficult. Self-driving however is a great way to see Scotland and its endless beauty. Being able to dictate your own schedule, swing by a nice quirky 9 hole course on the way to the hotel or stopping by a local fish and chip shop is part of the travelling charm. Strangely enough missing a turn or reminiscing about putts holed on the way to the next golf course in your minivan are the special memories that stay with you from your buddies trip to Scotland.
For the compulsive amateur golfer who has spent years mastering the game any quiet confidence will likely be ripped away after golf at Carnoustie. The slog of golfing at this famous Open Championship has resulted in visiting golfers labelling the Championship Course with the unfortunate nickname Car-Nasty. Like many of Scotland’s great courses golfers understandably appreciate the aura of the venue and the cunning course design. It’s one for the bucket list that’s for sure, even if every par feels like a birdie.
By Ru Macdonald
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