ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – When I first arrived at Golf Channel four years ago, I was sent out with Steve Sands to learn the ropes of life on the road.
I don’t remember too much from that trip but I do remember one golden rule. It was drummed into me after Steve sat in the back of the car and realized a water bottle had emptied its contents all over the seat….never get wet-arse. Whether it's from rain, or freshly spilled Evian, the discomfort will ruin the day's work.
Alas, four years later and having avoided such trauma since that fateful mishap, I awoke on my flight to London this morning sitting in my glass of water that had fallen into the seat…sorry Steve. Thank goodness for the lounge/shower facilities at Heathrow.
The closest airport to St. Andrews is Leuchars, a Royal Air Force base that allows rich and famous folk and professional golfers who can afford the luxury a place to park their private jets. I’m thinking the tarmac will be quite busy this week. For the riffraff like me, Edinburgh serves as the closest port of call and when my flight touched down this afternoon the weather was miserable – foggy, cold and rainy.
Hope the conditions will improve, although rumors are swirling that the weekend could see winter weather gripping the links, with temperatures in the 40s, strong cold winds and even a frost. Let's hope that’s just the locals trying to intimidate those from warmer climes.
The amateurs have to wait until Tuesday evening to find out the question I’ve been asked for the past month…who are you playing with? The draw party took place in the Dunhill Pavilion and the answer to the $1 million question is…Mikko Ilonen, a 29-year-old from Finland who won the British Amateur in 2000 and has added two European Tour victories since.
During the draw party, tournament host Johan Rupert made it clear slow play will not be tolerated. In fact, he went as far as saying if any groups fall a hole behind, the amateurs in the group will be docked a shot. Seeing that I’m a Dunhill rookie, I certainly don’t want to fall on the wrong side of the boss.
I’ve scheduled a practice round for tomorrow, my first look at the Old Course. Thankfully, I’ll have the full quota of clothing. My suitcase, which went missing for some 5 hours, was waiting for me in the room when I returned from dinner….thank goodness.Watch full coverage of the Alfred Dunhill Links on Golf Channel Thursday - Saturday at 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. ET and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. ET.
Dunhill Diary, Part 1: Big Stars ... and Me