Sunday on TV: two great U.K. links courses, two great golf trips
By David Owen
The Scottish Open -- that is to say, the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open -- is being played at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, in northeastern Scotland. My friends and I played two rounds there there in 2008. Here some of the guys are on the first tee:
St. Andrews is just 80 miles to the south, but you could skip it and still put together a terrific golf trip, playing only courses within bicycling distance of Aberdeen. Maybe start at Carnoustie, on the northern side of the Firth of Tay. Then Forfar, a heathland course, definitely worth the twelve-mile trip inland:
Then Royal Aberdeen, which you can study on TV on Sunday (the Golf Channel in the morning; NBC in the afternoon):
Then Murcar, which is so close to Royal Aberdeen that players on one course sometimes accidentally play onto the other. Here you are looking toward Murcar from Royal Aberdeen:
And here you are looking toward Royal Aberdeen from Murcar:
Then Trump International, which I haven't played yet but which I walked when it was nearing completion. Then maybe Newburgh-on-Ythan, where I played with two other guys named Dave. The course isn't the greatest, but if you like to walk you can drive a couple of miles up the road and hike into a nature preserve whose many fascinating features include some enormous sand dunes, which are visible from the course:
You can also explore the remains of the village of Forvie, which was swallowed by blowing sand in the 1400s. All that's left are some piles of stones and part of the village church, which was built on high ground:
Then Cruden Bay, which is one of my favorite courses anywhere:
Then maybe Peterhead (where I played with the pro), Inverallochy (where I accidentally set off the clubhouse alarm), and Fraserburgh, whose first and last holes could use some work but is otherwise terrific.
There you go: a great golf trip, and you've put barely 100 miles on your rental car. And if there are non-playing spouses along you can stop for occasional sightseeing without driving more than a mile or two out of your way:
Meanwhile, in England, the Women's British Open -- that is to say, the Ricoh Women's British Open -- is being held at Royal Birkdale, in northwestern England. (You can study the course on ESPN2.) My friends and I visited Birkdale in 2010 and I returned in 2013. Here's Ray in 2010:
Birkdale lies near the center of what may be my favorite golf trip, the route for which runs along the Lancashire coast from Royal Liverpool, where the British Open will be played next week, about an hour to the south of Birkdale, to Royal Lytham & St. Annes, where the Open was played in 2012, about an hour to the north. I have an article about that trip coming up in a future issue of Golf Digest. In the meantime, I can tell you that in 2010 nine of us played fifteen rounds in eight days on eleven of the courses between Liverpool and Lytham, and at dinner on our last night in England the nine of us named eight of them as the one we'd most like to play again.