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    Golf Season in Scotland!

     

    Hoddam Castle Golf Course Yellow Flag © 2006 Scotiana

    Hoddam Castle Golf Course Yellow Flag © 2006 Scotiana

     

    If you really want to get better at golf, go back and take it up at a much earlier age.

    Thomas Mulligan (*)

     

    Is there a golf season? I wonder…

    So many times have we been watching Scottish people deeply absorbed in their game while we were staying miserable and drenched to the skin on the edge of the course that we can’t have any doubt about the Scottish people’s love for golf and their resistance to bad weather…

    Golf playing in the rain Glencoe Ballachulish links Scotland © 2006 Scotiana

    Golf playing in the rain near Glencoe Ballachulish links, Scotland © 2006 Scotiana

     

    …but we’ve visited Scotland during the rather privileged period extending from May to October and if it can be very rainy then it is not usually very cold still, especially from the point of view of our Scottish friends. Don’t they say ‘It’s fresh’ when we feel icy cold!  Anyway, and whatever the Scottish resistance to bad weather, I couldn’t have imagined that one can play golf in winter in Scotland, until I fell on golf websites’ pages dedicated to the subject.  Below is an extract of one of these pages:

    Winter Golf may not be for everyone but if you’re looking for somewhere to play you could hardly pick better than the west coast links of Scotland – with if you’re fortunate some of the finest views across to the Isle of Arran.

    With the odd exception (last winter!) many courses remain playable on full greens all year round. The winter rates can’t promise that and conditions are always subject to the weather but it really does offer a great value Scottish golf short break and you can tie it in with superb value room rates at some of Ayrshire’s best hotels.

    Of course snow and frost are major obstacles and the only alternative then for the golf addict player is to go and play under milder climates 😉

     

     

    Glenisla Golf Course Perthshire Scotland  © 2007 Scotiana

    Glenisla Golf Course - Perthshire, Scotland © 2007 Scotiana

    We’ve already  largely introduced the subject of golf on Scotiana: Iain and Margaret in ‘First Days of Golf ‘, Janice in ‘The 5 Most Famous Holes of Scottish Golf Courses’ and myself in
    ‘The Magic of the Scottish Golf Courses’.  In my last post I’ve focused on such prestigious links as St Andrews, Turnberry and Gleneagles but it would be quite unfair to say the magic of the game only belongs to such kind of luxury golf courses. There are so many links in Scotland that it would take a huge volume to list them all and give each an appropriate description. In fact there are few places in Scotland that are devoided of a place where one can practice golf.

    Glenisla Golf Course 'of all seasons' Perthshire Scotland  © 2007 Scotiana

    Glenisla Golf Course 'of all seasons' - Perthshire, Scotland © 2007 Scotiana

     

    On our road to Aviemore, in the Cairngorms, between Newtonmore and Kingussie we stopped to take photos of the  beautiful golf course of Glenisla.

    Set amidst 180 acres of undulating parkland in the scenic valley of Strathmore, Glenisla Golf Course is conveniently located in Perthshire, at the heart of Scotland’s golf country. Only half an hour from renowned courses such as Carnoustie, St. Andrews and Rosemount, Glenisla is an ideal base for touring the many courses in the area.

     

    Hoddam Castle Estate Rhododendrons Dumfries and Galloway Scotland  © 2006 Scotiana

    Rhododendrons on the wooded path to Hoddam Castle, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland © 2006 Scotiana

    But let me lead you now to a mysterious and magical place we’ve fallen in love with…

    Hoddam Castle bridge Dumfries and Galloway Scotland © 2004 Scotiana

    Hoddam Castle old bridge, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland © 2004 Scotiana

    There, of course, one can play golf from the beginning to the end of the day and in a very pleasant and quiet atmosphere.

    Hoddam Castle Golf path Dumfries and Galloway Scotland  © 2006 Scotiana

    Hoddam Castle, view from the bridge to the golf path, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland © 2006 Scotiana

     

    A wooded path leads to the links and when we went there the rhododendrons were in full bloom…

    Playing golf at Hoddam Castle Dumfries and Galloway Scotland © 2006 Scotiana

    Playing golf at Hoddam Castle, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland © 2006 Scotiana

    Just have a look on our photo to see how people seem to enjoy their game in a quite relaxed way 😉

    In my last post, I’ve mentioned how the controversial Donald Trump’s luxury Golf project near Aberdeen had been in the Scottish newspapers’ headlines before becoming a reality but I would like to quote a young lady who is speaking of the old golf of Aberdeen.

    A sense of belonging to Scotland Andy Hall Mercat 2007

    A sense of belonging to Scotland - Andy Hall - Mercat 2007

    There are few places in the world where I look out of the window and feel ‘I’m home’. The view from our chalet at Cruden Bay makes me feel exactly like that, despite the fact that I’m a west coast girl.

    I look down on what appears to be a green lunar landscape, all dewy and mysterious in the early morning, the light often most stunning at 5 am. No one about, just the distant movement of the North Sea beyond the sand dunes, an occasional ship sailing by to the Orkneys or Shetland Islands. Peace!

    Although you can’t see it in Andy’s wonderful shot, to the left are the haunting and spectacular ruins of Slains Castle which attract Bram Stoker fans from all the world.

    This natural golf links course is amongst the finest in the world and keen golfers beat a path to this place where my husband and children love to play. They just walk down to the first tee and off they go, hail, rain or shine!

    Often I stand at the kitchen window preparing a meal and get carried away with this spectacular vista. I watch golfers come and go and think how lucky I am.

    (A sense of belonging to Scotland) Andy Hall Mercat 2007 – Fiona Kennedy(*)

    This beautiful text is the perfect description of the kind of golf we would like to play on. If you want to see the photo of its author and that of the old golf of Aberdeen which accompany it, I recommend you to buy this superb book. It’s one of my favourites for every page of it perfectly illustrates “the  sense of place” in Scotland as it can be felt by well-known Scottish people.

     

    Hoddam Castle view from the golf course Dumfries and Galloway Scotland  © 2004 Scotiana

    Hoddam Castle, view from the golf course, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland © 2004 Scotiana

    Next time, I will tell you more about Hoddam Castle which you can see on the above photo, hiding behind the trees.  We fell in love with this mysterious castle as soon as we discovered it and I will tell you how we fell on it nearly by chance.  Just give me enough time to browse through the many pages I’ve just printed about its history. I think I should be able to give you a good idea of it then, as we have also taken a lot of photos there 😉

    A bientôt.

    Bonne lecture. Mairiuna.

    PS – No doubt that Scotland is THE golf country! We’ve just received information from the company ‘Optical Express’ about their ‘Optical Express Pro Golf Tour 2011’, a very interesting golf competitive tour organized for golf  professionals and invited amateurs, male and female golfers and especially the younger, less experienced ones.  This  genial  idea came from Alan Tait and Nigel Scott-Smith, two dynamic and talented professional golf players who wanted to offer Scottish golf talented players more opportunities to play golf in their land.  The event is sponsored by Optical Express.

    Alan and Nigel - Optical Express Pro Golf Tour 2011

    Alan and Nigel - Optical Express Pro Golf Tour 2011

    The whole ethos behind the Optical Express Pro Golf tour is the continuing development of talented golfing professionals in Scotland, pure and simple. Although vital to the growth of any professional golfer in Scotland, it can be a costly business travelling to similar events in England or Europe and a lot of our golfing talent is unable to sustain this kind of expense. We need this tour to continue to produce world class golfers by giving our home grown golf professionals the opportunity to develop their competitive game, in Scotland (Paul Lawrie, who won The Open Championship in 1999)

    There will be prizes at the end of each event and the final will take place between 24 finalists in December,  in Mallorca (no weather problems there :-))

    Below are the dates and locations of the 2011 Scottish events:

    05-06 May          Stanraer GC

    25-26 May           Hilton Park Golf Club

    20-21 July           The Westerwood

    08-09 August      The Roxburghe

    21-22 September    Letham Grange GC

    03-04 October        Irvine (Bogside) GC

    Scotiana readers who want to know more about this golf tour can get more information in the ‘Optical Express Pro Golf Tour 2011’ website.

     

    Notes:

    (*) Thomas Mulligan was born as the fourth earl of Murphy, a middle class aristocrat, on 1st May 1793. This passionate golfer and, we can say Einstein, Newton and Michelangelo of golf, is the most famous golfer in the world. He invented, and therefore it is named after him, a hit which is used on first holes of all golf courses in the world. Although some envy golfers use different expressions for this hit, e.g. “breakfast ball” or “Sunday ball”, the correct name is “mulligan”. It is the second – non-punishable – hit from first tee after the first hit does not turn out well according to golfer’s wish.  Thomas Mulligan came up with a revolutionary idea that the first hit is not counted. Thomas Mulligan died on 1st April 1879. Speaking in golf terminology, he lived for amazing 86 years, i.e. 14 above par. American golfer, writer, journalist and great humorist Henry Beard wrote a thin book about this extraordinary man and his intuitive ideas and remarks who branded in the golf history as a lighthouse with its fadeless light on a sea cliff in storm named “Mulligan’s Laws” (1993) which was published in the Czech Republic as “Mulliganovy zákony” in 2000.   (guide.golfczech.com/faq)

    (*) Fiona Kennedy Daughter of Calum, Fiona Kennedy shares his beautiful singing voice in her treatment of both traditional and contemporary songs. She combines recording and performing with a career as a presenter and director of Tartan TV. (A sense of belonging to Scotland Andy Hall Mercat 2007 ‘Biographies in Brief’)

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