Sunday, March 10, 2019

Of Travels, Stories, and Golf

Anne shopping for native jewelry at the Governor's Palace. 
Why are all these people outside? Oh, I see.
       We are getting ready for a trip to Santa Fe, Chaco Canyon, and Taos in a week or so. That's why the photos from earlier Santa Fe trips, but our focus is really on our spring trip to Scotland which we are still busily planning--finalizing lodging plans, booking golf course visits, etc. This brings me to the meat of this post, Scotland stories and photos. The stories come from my journals for past trips and the photos relate to those stories. I hope you enjoy both the stories and the photos while we seek new ones from the southwest.

Lovely homes on Canyon Road.

Fantastic Art

Orkney at War
Stenness Stones on Orkney is one of the UK's oldest stone circles.

On a recent trip to Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland we picked up a couple of interesting war stories. First, we saw from the roadway the home of the first British civilian casualty of the German bombings in World War II. A German plane trying to reach home after an early raid dumped its last bombs before crossing the North Sea to home and one landed close to a house just as the owner was leaving the house. Killed by the blast, this Orkadian was the first of many civilian casualties of bombing raids. 
Skara Brae is a 5000 year old Neolithic village in Orkney.

A couple of ancients on Orkney--the Ring of Brodgar and me.

Arctic explorer Anne caddied for me at Orkney GC--notice the condition of the flag.

Several hundred years before the first story there is another story of an Orkadian killed in war. In a battle fought in the 1400s between mainland Scots from Sutherland and Orkadians, the Scots were routed and only one Orkadian was killed. He was a fairly young lad who found a dead Scot and took his clothes and shoes (which he had never had) and went home. His mother, thinking she was being attacked by a Scot, hid and hit the intruder (her son) with a rock in a sock when he came in. Her son’s death was the only Orkanian casualty.
Sunset at Kirkwall Harbour on Orkney.

Playing Golf with Americans
There are some deep bunkers at Macrihanish Dunes GC.

Nightly the grounds crew at Dundonald GC go out and feed the golfers who couldn't get out of this bunker.

After we had written our second book about Scotland golf (Golf in Scotland II: Hidden Gems of Scotland and Wales) we booked back into Tain GC just south of Royal Dornoch to take them a book and have a fun second trip around the course. The club had no trouble granting us another round in exchange for our book and thought they’d do us a favor by pairing us up with a couple from New Jersey. The couple were pleasant people about our age, but it wasn’t much of a favor. 
The view of Crail Balcomie GC from the 14th tee.

The views at the nine-hole Dragon's Tooth GC near Glencoe are stunning.

One of the loveliest courses in the world is Shiskine Golf and Tennis Club on Isle Arran, Scotland.

The couple were duffers, and even though they had been playing for more than ten years, they were not really knowledgeable about golf courtesy—they were noisy, stood in the wrong places, walked on our lines on the greens, and were just generally boorish. They were also blind! It seemed that neither could see past fifty yards. They were constantly asking where their ball went and asking us to find it for them. It would have been far more pleasant to play alone or with locals. Sometimes the best of intentions comes to naught.
Anne rests on the third tee at our course, St Fillans GC.

The sun's out, the weather must be perfect.

Anne tees off at Boat of Garden GC in the Cairngorm National Park.

Be careful, Anne, golfers have gotten lost in the wilds of Macrihanish Dunes GC.

Someone to Play With
One of our friends, Heather Stirling, is a caddy on the Old Course at St Andrews.

  At Newburgh-on-Ythan (i’-than) on Scotland’s northeast coast we scheduled a round so we could write up the course in our books. We checked-in with the pro (a sub assistant from another club) who said we weren’t on the tee sheet. We showed him the email from the club secretary granting us courtesy of the course (free golf). He looked the email over and said, “Let me get you set up with trolleys and I’ll get you on your way.” We asked about playing companions because courses about half the time will set us up with club captains or other locals who can tell us about the course and help guide us around. The pro told us it looked like nobody was scheduled to play with us. 
We do make great friends on the courses in Scotland. Here Roger and Wendy Bailey from Dumfries pose with Anne. 

I got to raise the American flag while club manager Gordon Hibbert raised the European Union flag in honor of the 2014 Ryder Cup matches.

Our good friend and Scottish brother John Clifford raises the flag in triumph--I think he finally made a putt.

We played the first hole and had just teed off on the second when a gentleman with clubs walked up and introduced himself. George Annan, the club historian, had been scheduled to escort us around, but only he and the secretary knew that. George was very talkative and he kept telling us he was very talkative. Our round was quite slow because George talked so much. He did admit that several club members wouldn’t play with him because he talked so much. He really was nice, charming, had great stories, and we didn’t mind his chatter at all. It was just another example of the nice Scots we get hooked up with. It was also another example of a club secretary who doesn’t follow through or communicate efficiently. It’s why early on we learned to make written copies of our communication with secretaries or club managers and to bring them to Scotland with us.
The deer in front of me really was distracting--I missed him by hitting far to the right.

Anne at Boat of Garten GC--I had to show this since Anne so seldom gets into the woods.

Anne tees off at the lovely Aboyne GC west of Aberdeen.

One of the best finishing holes in golf is the par four 18th at Old Moray GC in Lossiemouth on the Morayshire coast.