Golf Blog

Scotland

After an inspiring trip to Ireland that included 13 rounds of golf in 8 days, I wanted more.  With Scotland just a short plane ride away, I decided to board that plane and meet up with a serious crew of golf nuts.

  • Ashley Mayo - Trip planner and ring leader of the golf circus.  This critically acclaimed Golf Digest Editor was also celebrating a birthday.
  • Jeff Blind - As the boyfriend of Ashley, Jeff is often referred to as Mr Mayo on hotel reservations.  However, standing at 6'6" Jeff holds his own on the golf course.
  • Jeff Filer - A second Jeff, standing at what feels like 7'2".  Thats over 13' feet of Jeff to deal with.
  • Shane Bacon - Fresh off his broadcast at the US Open, Shane brought his handsome face and swing speeds exceeding 115 mph.
  • Tom Murray - A master of the quip and pee your pants one liners, Tom brings the comedic heat. As a special treat, Tom will host the Paper Plate Awards at the end of this post.
  • Hally Leadbetter - Hally is a recovering tour pro on staff with Golf Digest.  This girl can golf her ball.
  • Chris Solomon - Chris is the driving force behind the No Laying Up podcast.  True to his game, Chris would not lay up once during the trip.

It is claimed that golf was first played in the village of Cruden Bay in 1791.  100 years later, Old Tom Morris of St Andrews and Archie Simpson would design Cruden Bay Golf Club in 1899. The course was then redesigned by Tom Simpson and Herbert Fowler in the 1920's.  Our group would hit our golf balls 226 years after the 1st golf ball was struck on this land.

 Chris Solomon pounds one deep at Cruden Bay's 6th hole.

Chris Solomon pounds one deep at Cruden Bay's 6th hole.

After a rousing start to the golf trip, things were about to get nasty.  Carnasty at Carnoustie that is.  With winds gusting into the 40mph range on one of the toughest tests in golf, the golf battle was on.

Since The Open is coming to Carnoustie in 2018, it was important for our team to test the merits of the layout.  Even though they have been golfing here since 1850 and our opinions don't "officially" matter, we approved this course for Open play.

 I always remember to pose as hard as I golf.

I always remember to pose as hard as I golf.

Photo bombed my way through Cruden Bay today. Hey, hey.

A post shared by Patrick Koenig (@pjkoenig) on

 Tom would smoke his the 3 wood into the wind on the difficult 17th "Island" hole at Carnoustie.  You can sense the amazement in the face of the caddie as Tom finds the green.

Tom would smoke his the 3 wood into the wind on the difficult 17th "Island" hole at Carnoustie.  You can sense the amazement in the face of the caddie as Tom finds the green.

 Hally would find the sand often at Carnoustie, this one would also find the bottom of the cup for birdie.

Hally would find the sand often at Carnoustie, this one would also find the bottom of the cup for birdie.

After a long and tumultuous internet romance between Shane and Chris, this would be the first time that they would actually meet in person.  With expectations high for a life altering introduction, things were surprisingly normal and there were no uncomfortable Butler Cabin moments or sloppy make out sessions.  

With it often being difficult to obtain a tee time to play the Old Course, Crail is a fantastic option just down the road.  With most of the holes offering fantastic views of the North Sea, Crail will satisfy your golfing soul.

 The par 3 14th hole at Crail greets you on your arrival to the Balcomie Course.

The par 3 14th hole at Crail greets you on your arrival to the Balcomie Course.

After a successful morning round at Carnoustie, half of our group would tackle the Old Course at St Andrews.  The other half would head to the Golfing Society of Crail. 

 Here we have Jeff Blind finding the green, Jeff Filer looking on, and Tom Murphy looking on in sheer amazement.

Here we have Jeff Blind finding the green, Jeff Filer looking on, and Tom Murphy looking on in sheer amazement.

 The view from the 1st hole at Crail's Balcomie Course.

The view from the 1st hole at Crail's Balcomie Course.

Since only half of our group had played The Old Course, the other half needed to get up early and wait in line to get a tee time for that day.  After chatting with the starter, we were advised that getting in line between 3am and 4am should put us in a good position to be sprinkled into the tee sheet as singles throughout the morning.

After a good 2 hours of sleep, we walked through the darkness and got into line at 3:15am.  The first person in line had arrived at 2:18 am and we were in positions 5-8.  We were confident as we waited for the starter to open at 6am.  As we watched the sunrise over St Andrews, it was clear that there are far worse lines to wait in.  I'd take a 3 hour wait at the Old Course over a 30 minute wait at the DMV all day long.

At 6am, the starter opened up to a round of applause.  Moments later, we would learn that a foursome had cancelled their 7am foursome and our group was next in line to claim the coveted tee time.  After some high fiving and coffee drinking, The Old Course was ours.

 The view from the early morning line at the Old Course.

The view from the early morning line at the Old Course.

 Excitement level at 10 as we nab the 7am slot.

Excitement level at 10 as we nab the 7am slot.

 Classic classicness.

Classic classicness.

 Par saver from the knees!

Par saver from the knees!

 Jeff Blind finds the green on 18!  "I will never forget this moment for the rest of my life."

Jeff Blind finds the green on 18!  "I will never forget this moment for the rest of my life."

Having heard much about the Old Course before actually visiting, my expectations were for a flat and rather pedestrian golf course.  I was told that it takes years and a minimum of 10 rounds to appreciate the subtleties of the Old Course.  

What I did not expect was just how much fun the course is to play.  The course is anything but flat and has incredible undulations that add a great deal of interest to any shot played along the ground.  Each hole feels like a walk through history and the ambiance of the course is unlike anything else.

I was surprised how far right you really have to go with your tee shot on 17 and I also can't describe just how awesome that tee shot into 18 is.  I remember smiling as I pounded one towards the village of St Andrews.  When was the last time you hit a tee shot with a big ass grin on your face?   

I feel sorry for people that don’t play golf.
— Shane Bacon

After a round of golf at The Old Course, The Dunvegan Motel is the place to get your golf party on.  It's where quotes like this make sense.

Up next was an afternoon round at Elie Golf Links.  It was a unanimous decision that this was the windiest round of golf that any of us had ever played.  Balls were not staying on the tees and flushed 6 irons were only going 80 yards.  You could literally fall into the wind and it would just push you right back up again.

 After a 380 yard 3 wood, Jeff plays his 2nd from the parking lot at Elie Golf Links.

After a 380 yard 3 wood, Jeff plays his 2nd from the parking lot at Elie Golf Links.

 Ashley checks out the periscope clubhouse at Elie Golf Links.  This is an actual periscope from the HMS Excalibur submarine that allows the starter's office to alert golfers when the 1st fairway is clear.

Ashley checks out the periscope clubhouse at Elie Golf Links.  This is an actual periscope from the HMS Excalibur submarine that allows the starter's office to alert golfers when the 1st fairway is clear.

After 2 hours of sleep, 18 at the Old Course, 18 at Elie in 45 mph winds, it was time to play a sunset round on St Andrews' Jubilee course.  To cap things off, we ordered Domino's pizza and smoked cigars from the Jigger Inn as we watched the sunset over 17 and 18 on the Old Course.  In terms of golf days, this was a good one.

 A nice little compilation of when it takes 4 tries to escape and I am in the group with my camera, 

A nice little compilation of when it takes 4 tries to escape and I am in the group with my camera, 

 In a heated golf bus discussion, our group debated the captioning options for Hally's  Instagram  post.  "Feel the 'burn' between your legs at Kingsbarns." was deemed too racy and was unfortunately scrapped.

In a heated golf bus discussion, our group debated the captioning options for Hally's Instagram post.  "Feel the 'burn' between your legs at Kingsbarns." was deemed too racy and was unfortunately scrapped.

With only one day left in Scotland, it was a day of 36 holes at Kingsbarns and North Berwick.  With Kingsbarns opening for play in 2000 and North Berwick being established in 1832, this was a good mix of the old and new.

 The 18th at Kingsbarns

The 18th at Kingsbarns

 At around 200 yards, the 15th at Kingsbarns is a real ball buster of a par 3.

At around 200 yards, the 15th at Kingsbarns is a real ball buster of a par 3.

 The 12th hole at Kingsbarns was recently voted the best par 5 in Scotland based on a poll conducted by  VisitScotland.com

The 12th hole at Kingsbarns was recently voted the best par 5 in Scotland based on a poll conducted by VisitScotland.com

North Berwick was one of the courses that I had earmarked on the agenda as I was looking forward to many of the holes and the original architecture.   North Berwick did not let us down that day as it has been satisfying golfers since 1832.  It knows what it's doing.

 "The Pit" hole at North Berwick is as fun as any other golf hole in the world.

"The Pit" hole at North Berwick is as fun as any other golf hole in the world.

 The biarritz green on the 16th at North Berwick is outstanding.

The biarritz green on the 16th at North Berwick is outstanding.

With the trip nearing completion as we headed down the 18th fairway, Ashley Mayo decided to knock one in for eagle and earn shot of the trip awards.  What a legend, that Mayo.  

With Ashley's walk off eagle, the trip was complete and it was time to take some selfies and hand out some awards.  I know you have been eagerly awaiting the Paper Plate Awards hosted by Tom Murray.  

Paper Plate Awards Hosted by Tom Murray

  • Most likely to play 36 while we're sleeping Award- Patrick Koenig *It's true, I played Muirfield twice while every was in bed on Tuesday.
  • Steal my chips and look like Jason Whitten Award - Jeff Filer *Jeff had 2 touchdowns and 3 birdies on The Old Course.
  • Most likely to pound the most D's on the same hole Award - Jeff Blind *D stands for driver people, jeez.
  • Expedia.com travel insurance Award - Shane Bacon *Shane booked the wrong flight and showed up a day late.
  • Hit every fairway Award - Ashley Mayo *Ashley has hit every fairway since mid 2005.
  • Least likely to lay up Award - Chris Solomon *not even once.
  • Feel the burn Award - Hally Leadbetter *While the caption may have been scrapped, the burn lives on.
  See ya later, Scotland!

See ya later, Scotland!