Doughtie Sr. On Golf (August 2013)

Trip to Home of Golf.
I hope you have all enjoyed a long summer,with plenty of opportuniies to play here and elsewhere.
I had the pleasure,during my annual pilgrimage to Scotland,to play a few new courses and add them to my list of "Hidden Gems".They are all worth a visit and not too far off the beaten track.....well almost....
Most trips to Scotland will include a visit to St Andrews,especially on the maiden voyage,but Scotland offers golfers many more fascinating locations,some ,at a fraction of the price of the more famous courses.
Each year we try to play at such a venue.This year was no exception and 2 more boxes on my Bucket List were ticked.
Firstly,we experienced the historic charm of Old Musselburgh Links,a good 3 iron from Edinburgh ,on route to North Berwick and Gullane ,and well worth the short deviation.This is the oldest golf course(not club) in the world which still uses the same links.Documentation indicates the sport was played here as early as 1672,however it is generally accepted that Mary Queen of Scots golfed here in 1567,a few days after the murder of her first husband ,Lord Darnley,for which she was accused.
It was originally a 7 hole layout and increased to 9 in 1870.It is surrounded by a(horse) racecourse,which is not Out of Bounds,but does require extra attention on race days....The tavern of Mrs Forman has offered welcome refreshments behind the 4th green for over a hundred years.
Musselburgh,itself an Open Championship course,produced many of the early winners.Members of the Park  family,Bob Ferguson and Willie Dunn all hailed from this unique spot.The links,first hosted The Open in 1874 and on it's third occasion ,in 1880,local golfers filled the top 6 places.In all 6 Claret Jugs were contested at Musselburgh,the last being in 1889 with Willie Park Junior succeeeding in a play-off.This was the second time that further holes were necessary to proclaim the Champion,the first also being at these links in 1883 when local Bob Ferguson missed out on winning four-in-row,to equal Tom Morris Juniors' feat.....a record unlikely to be broken.
Willie Dunn,from Musselburgh,went on to win the first US Open in 1894.
It is possible to play the ancient links with hicklory clubs,for the traditionalists amongst us,although the course it difficult enough,even with today's hi-tech equipment........well worth a visit.
For those who adventure further north to the famed links of Cruden Bay or Dornoch and nowadays Castle Stuart,a slight deviation brings many more treasures into range,along the North-East and Moray Firth coasts.
If you seek something out of the ordinary,try Cullen,for an interesting change.
Formed in 1870 ,designed by Old Tom,this par 63 offers a fine cocktail of 10 par 3's,some of which are blind, and wonderful views out to sea.A warm welcome is extended to all visitors and a plate of the famous ,local ,Cullen Skink fish soup is not to be missed.
This year,I had the pleasure of a return to Monifieth Links(Medal course),an Open Qualifying track for nearby Carnoustie.The venue offers 2 courses making it a suitable location for 2 rounds,with the afternoon round on the more "friendly"Ashludie Course.The 3 local clubs,who play their matches there,offer excellent hospitality,as does the charming starter.
No visit to Scotland would be complete without a day at Crail.The 7th oldest club in the world now plays over Craighead as well as the iconic,old links at Balcomie.The clubhouse,perched above the closing 4 holes ,offers the best view in golf.
Our Professional,James,learned his trade here under the watchful eye of Graeme Lennie,who always is pleased to receive Dutch visitors.
There are many more "hidden gems"to be sampled and if you require any assistance or advise please do not hesitate to contact us.
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