Emptying out the notebook: 11-day trip to Scotland

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Emptying out the notebook from an 11-day junket to Scotland for the Open Championship:

• Played 108 holes in 66 hours and the youngest member of our group had the most difficult time getting out of bed each morning. Not naming any names, but his initials are Ryan Lavner.

• The first round off the plane was at historic Prestwick, home of the first 12 Open Championships. Liked it. A lot. Playing it off the plane without a caddie does not rank as one of the better decisions of the week.

• Went 36 holes the next day at Turnberry. Played the underrated Kintyre Course in the morning, then followed it with afternoon dessert at the Ailsa Course. Lavner closed with a studly birdie, birdie, par finish. Tom Watson would’ve killed for that stretch in 2009.

• Played Royal Troon with a member who hosted us at the Turnberry Open in 2009 and we joined him and his lovely wife for dinner that night. He then joined us for another 18 at Dundonald Links the next morning. Friends for life.

• Played a six-some at Western Gailes and three of us had caddies. There were nine people loitering the fairways. My game doesn’t do well with commotion. Actually, my game doesn’t do well in general.

• Western Gailes caddie Cliff was a hoot, had roamed the land for over 50 years. A proper Scottish caddie on a proper Scottish links course can make the nastiest of golf shots feel much better.

• The 535-yard, par-5 fifth hole at Dundonald played directly into a 30 mph wind. Best. Bogey. Of. My. Life.

• Played North Berwick in the gloaming. Quickly moved to my top-three favorites in Scotland.

• Seventy one year old North Berwick member Stewart Barnes joined us for the round. He’s been playing golf for 65 years, still carries a 5 handicap and smokes every drive on the screws about 260 yards. Love Scotland. Love this great game.


Photos: GolfChannel.com Scottish golf trip


• Freddie Jacobson happened to be walking North Berwick with friends and walked up to our tee box at No. 17. There’s always pressure involved with hitting a ball in front of a Tour pro but I mustered a smoked drive down the middle. Yay, me!

• Birdied the 270-yard 18th hole there. Hit my drive on the green and lipped out the eagle putt. Still birdie is birdie. And that was our 126th, and final, hole of the trip.

• Wish we had more roundabouts in the states. They’re tricky for Americans at first but are much more efficient than stoplights. Traffic flows much better. Also a big fan of European stoplights – they turn yellow before green. It’s basically a put-your-cellphone-down-and-get-ready-to-move-it warning.

• Random putting greens are in the center of town squares everywhere, but were very prominent in both Gullane and North Berwick. It’s a thing of beauty to see people out working on their games at 10 p.m. Why don’t we do more of this in this country?

• Hard to envision Lee Westwood ever winning a major.

Adam Scott ought to be thankful that Phil Mickelson shot 66. If not, Scott’s four consecutive bogeys in the final round for the second consecutive year would’ve been called more into question.

• Will Tiger Woods win 18 majors? Should be wondering when he’ll win No. 15 first. When that happens we can go back to debating the likelihood of 18.

• Have always been indifferent to Mickelson. No longer. His resiliency is to be applauded and his out-of-nowhere final-round 66 is epic. The guy says the right thing (most of the time) and signs autographs until he can’t sign anymore. What’s not to like?

• Sure, Phil has been labeled a phony a time or two. But, as a colleague asks, it is really phony if that’s the way he’s been every day of his entire life? Good point.

• How do you think Tiger Woods felt watching Phil win the claret jug? Woods has not won a major in the last 61 months, Mickelson has won two in the last 39 months. Just sayin’.

• Sprinkled for 5 minutes the entire week. Unbelievable. Just to show the Open a thing or two, I’m not bringing my rain gear next year.