I have been in Scotland three days and have played three rounds of golf.
Tuesday night I arrived at Greenbrae Farmhouse B&B on the outskirts of Longside after travelling for forty three hours, door to door. After a bit of sleep, I was up and ready to golf at Peterhead (Craigewan Links) the following morning.
I played a round with the pro, Harry Dougal and Heather who works and plays at the course.
I struggled to get onto anything and I think my body was still contorted from travelling and sitting in a plane for so long. By the last few holes I was whacking well but still off with my putter.
I haven’t been able to spend anytime practicing with my new putter and was thinking I should change the weights and see if that gets my putting back to what it was, which if I do say so myself was not bad at all!
The rain stayed away and the sun even popped out for a couple of minutes. There was a cold breeze blowing in from the North Sea and you can understand why there are no trees on the coast.
This was my first proper links course and I must say I love the way the course is integrated into the dunes and rolls with the natural landscape. No manufacture here and I love that the greens are just short native grass. The whin (gorse) are blooming and lots of hardy yellow flowers are nestled amongst the hillocks between and along the fairways.
Right now I couldn’t be happier. Well I would like to get rid of my cough and the fact that I sound like a 13yr old boy going through puberty which is not great when I am doing interviews but what can you do?
Thursday, I had the pleasure of playing with George at Inverallochy and what a challenge that was. Before I started play I changed the weights in my putter to see if that worked better for me.
Inverallochy is a stunning links course running adjacent to the North Sea but it was so windy, not only did my bag blow over twice but I had two air swings as I was blown off balance.
I learnt pretty quickly to get low and plant my feet – after my two air swings that is.
While I shot 114, I was quite happy considering the wind. I did get a par on the second and on the 16th I holed a long put that may have made me cheer and get (demand) a high five from George.
I do apologize to the gentleman playing in front who may have duffed his shot into the drainage channel at my roar of delight – may have.
Hey it was an awesome putt. Around fifteen feet with a turn at the end. I know I aimed it but I am still a little astounded I holed it.
George then took me on a two hour tour of the area looking at beaches, villages and other golf courses. What an amazing part of the world this is. If you are a keen golfer and traveller, NE Scotland should be added to your list.
Upon Harry and George’s recommendation I then visited The Tufted Duck Hotel for dinner. It was just on 5pm but I hadn’t eaten since breakfast so an early dinner it was – I may have been the first customer and the only person in the restaurant.
I got chatting to Ben the GM of The Tufted Duck and talked golf for quite a bit. He knows one of the pros at Gleneagles as he was a member there for five years and he will see if he is around when I call in there on my way across Scotland to the Isle of Arran.
Ben also recommended a golf book to read which I have downloaded and have started reading. I am enjoying Golf is Not a Game of Perfect by Dr Bob Rotella so much I wish I was on a train tomorrow so I could read the whole way.
The lentil soup and cheese bread was delicious, just what I needed after four hours golfing in the cold wind. I followed that with grilled mushrooms stuffed with tomatoes, goats cheese and topped with a light fluffy parmesan and parsley crust that just melted in my mouth. I may have ordered the Scottish cheese plate to go as I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat it there but I needed it in my life. I loved the food so much that I had to return for dinner again the next day.
I might have also spied haggis on the menu and wanted a taste.
Today just got better and better. I woke to gorgous Scottish weather and only drove through one shower on my way north to golf at Fraserburgh.
On arrival I spoke with Debbie and it seems Deborah (a different lady) who I had arranged golf with, no longer worked there and they had no idea I was coming. So Gerry, the Club Captain, was phoned and he arrived early to have a chat and see what I was after.
He initially thought I was just wanting to film a bit of the course, talk about it and have a chat to one of the members but I told him I wanted to play a full round and no, not the nine hole course but the eighteen please.
On Fridays, Gerry plays golf in a friendly competition with his friends but begrudgingly he said he would take me round. After a few holes not only did Gerry say he was enjoying it so much, talking about his home track and showing it off but he decided I should caddy for him as he was playing so well.
We had a lot of fun and I am still the golf whisperer as Gerry played one of the best rounds he has played in a while. Seems he might have been good for my golf too.
I played the best round of golf I have ever played. I shot 109 (have not been under 110 before) and had 49 on the back nine which is the best nine I have ever played.
Between The Plateau and The Hump we hit our own hump with our buggy (cart) packing it in. We pushed it off our fairway and across another to get it out of the way for the folk behind. After our new cart was brought out, I introduced myself to the gentlemen who came to repair and replace it and it turns out one of them, Josh, follows me on twitter and knew who I was.
That was a little bit strange.
I wasn’t thinking about my score just enjoying it for exactly what it was – a gorgeous day in the Scottish sun playing on a fantastic links course and ended up with my best round to date.
What more could a girl ask?
I spent a couple hours chatting to the guys in the club house following the round and when I declined the offer of a drink one fellow remarked “But I thought she was Australian”.
I do drink – water and smoothies and tea.
As luck would have it I stayed at the course all day and The Tufted Duck was open for dinner by the time I left so I was able to go for a spot of haggis.
Harry had told me that one of his favourite dishes was Cullen Skink which I asked him to repeat in English as I didn’t understand what he said. We have skinks in Australia (a type of lizard) so to me it sounded like a lizard stew. The cullen skink (fish chowder) I had at the Tufted Duck was light, creamy, packed full of flavour with hunks of potato, fish and leek. It was better than any chowder I have had to date on PEI (and that is a big call).
Dipping a bit of the cajun bread in the skink was delightful. I cleaned my bowl and couldn’t then fit in all of my main but the beef stuffed with haggis on a bed of mash and coated in gravy made me want to loosen my belt. I did admit defeat and sent some back uneaten although a few hours later and I would have happily dug into the remainder of that meal.
I chatted with Ben again and his friend from Gleneagles is in France so I will pop into Gleneagles tomorrow for a cup of tea to break up my trip south.
I will be back to Scotland and I will play at Gleneagles just not tomorrow.
I did however speak with the Director of Greenkeeping at St Andrews, as one of the fellows at Fraserburgh gave me his number and I am hoping to meet up with him when I am in Edinburgh.
Scotland, I am smitten and I will be back.