The Local Knowlege

Courses & Travel

More on golf in Scotland and Memories of Muirfield

After looking over my friend’s dream-trip itinerary to Scotland (see previous post), I received some interesting Twitter replies and one thoughtful e-mail:

From @ryanmathre, “He must not be married.”

That is correct. Kevin Daly is single and works for himself.

@GolfandGoodLife observed: “Matt, some would contend your friend’s ‘dream’ itinerary is a nightmare death march! It leaves no time for the good life.”

Fair enough, but it’s just an itinerary. Let’s stay tuned to see if he actually plays 21 rounds in 14 days.

@MichaelSmyth tweeted: “Cool. Went on mine in '96; 28 rds/20 days. May have been 1st golf trip blog in history. Writer for golfweb posted daily + pics.”

I agree with colleague @MikeStachura: “If you are going to Scotland for 14 days and not playing 21 rounds, why go?”

And then @bogey2scratch tweeted: “How does he play 21 rounds and none at Muirfield?”

To which, @jasonsills replied, “He said he planned for six months. Muirfield was sold out for a year. I had the same problem.”

Then @golfeastlothian chimed in with some good news and bad news: “Good news is, for the first time Muirfield will allow 4 balls from 1st tee in 2012. Spots for 25 percent more golfers.”

Followed by, “Bad news is, checked online availability and many have already been booked! #nicetobepopular." He was kind enough to include a link to the “Visitor Booking” section of Muirfiled’s website.

Finally, I received this e-mail from @iain27:


Matt,
 
Just noticing the tweets on playing Muirfield. 

I am Iain Macdonald, currently living in Houston, TX. I grew up in Central Scotland, and for several years ('79-'82) we spent our summer vacations as teenagers trying to persuade older brothers and sisters to drive us to the great golf spots in Scotland. 

Back then the whole "golf tourist industry" hadn't taken off and playing those great courses was a matter of paying a few pounds (junior rate) and turning up to play. Incidentally, Colin Montgomerie's father (secretary at Royal Troon) was a great character and always accommodating to us kids.

Wherever we visited we always took the starter a small bottle of whisky. Even though we were underage, the gift was always well received and ensured that there was always a tee time for us (and an extra 18 holes when we'd come around and ask to play again). Those days were long before computerized start sheets and The Starter was King.

My friend's sister used to take us to most places when we made "day trips," but for the Muirfield trip we had to find an alternative as Muirfield had a well-known "no women" policy (they now allow women). There was a stately air at Muirfield that was unmatched. It was super private and exclusive back then. We'd often call and get nowhere. 

Then one year, I wrote the secretary asking if we could play, pointing out that we were all good players, etc. In return I received a letter from the club advising that, "All times are taken this year, please try again next year."
 
We thought nothing of it, just another dead end in the quest to play Muirfield. But because I thought we had nothing to loose, I wrote again the following year … and the secretary wrote back, noting that he remembered my letter from the previous year. He invited me to call him to arrange a tee time!

Muirfield.jpg
Arriving there, we knew we were experiencing something different and special. Back then you could pretty much turn up at the Old Course and be almost guaranteed a tee time, then play for under 10 pounds. Royal Troon, Carnoustie, North Berwick, Dunbar and a host of others were even easier. Muirfield was exclusive, with a gentrified Scottish air, but we felt welcomed. You see, once you had the secretary's approval as a player worthy of their course, you were their guest for the day.

And it was a great day, of course, but one of the most interesting aspects was that despite the starter advising us that it was "busy" out there, we only saw one other foursome.
 
Golf in Scotland has changed a lot since those days, but we were privileged to experience those great places the way we did. As a teenager I took it all for granted. In hindsight … lucky!

Anyway, you get the idea. Brings back a lot of great "growing up" memories just thinking about it.
 
Regards,
 
Iain.


Thank you for sharing! 

The 2012 green fee at Muirfield will be $318; roughly $90 for a replay round. They offer a winter green fee of $180 (Nov. 15 - Mar. 15).

--Matty G.

(You can follow me on Twitter @Matt_Ginella.)


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