An Authentic Scottish Golf Round

This past October I was fortunate enough to travel to Scotland for a week-long business trip in order to visit our vendors and further explore the country a bit as well. My first two days of the excursion included immaculate, rainless rounds on the Old Course at St. Andrews and Kingsbarns. During the Old Course round, the wind picked up to approximately 20-25 mph, therefore the elements were difficult, yet nothing I had not seen or experienced before at home in the states. After the portion of the trip in and around St. Andrews, we started our ascent to the Highlands, a stay in Nairn, and a round on the course I was truly looking forward to, arguably more than the Old Course, Royal Dornoch.

As we arrived in the small town of Dornoch the next day, the rain started to come down furiously in spurts. Regardless of the conditions, no matter what, I was playing golf. As I stepped onto the first tee, there was clarity. The sky briefly opened, and the sun started to peak through. Momentarily, I thought it was all going to turn around. It most definitely did not.

Walking down the third fairway, I was almost knocked flat by the force of the wind. The rain, careening off the North Sea, turned sideways into my face. This continued to the next hole, where I saw a gentleman standing on the fourth tee box with a smile on his face. He said, “How’s it going out there?” “This is what I came for,” I replied with grin. He happened to be the local university’s golf coach, who sent out his team in the blustery conditions, and many were cursing his name as I played through on the next hole. Multiple foursomes were simply walking off the course, not willing to put up with the unforgiving environment. As I played the remainder of the round, I have never felt such calmness in a round of golf. Even as I hit a few wayward shots and found a couple of the pesky bunkers, I realized why Tom Watson fell in love with links golf in the very same steps I was taking.

The highlight had to be when I joined two local university players. On the 17th hole, one of my playing partners hit five shots out of bounds. The ruthless winds, taking shot after shot into the abyss. We all shared a laugh.

Some days may be perfect while you’re playing golf in Scotland and some days quite difficult. Even in the windiest, rainiest, toughest days of golf I have ever experienced, playing Royal Dornoch in these elements was without a doubt one of the most enjoyable.

Ben Alexander