AroundWithRog - Turnberry, Scotland
Exhaustion, I later learnt, had not yet arrived. It was merely a little early morning fatigue, as I willed the shower to wash me awake with its rejuvenating capabilities. Ana soon confirmed that my fatigue was not yet resulting in an over-vivid imagination working overtime. Instead, the welcome last night, the porters who seemed to know exactly who I was and what I was attempting, the friendly service to helping put the bike in a safe and visible spot covered by the hotel security cameras (bikes are stolen far more often than cars) and the staff all dressed up in immaculate tartan outfits, was all in fact, real.
Turnberry is due to host The Open again in 2009; it soon became quite clear to me that this was another of those 'real deal' courses. Looking out from our upgraded room across the road to the links and the sea beyond, my mind wandered aimlessly, trying to work out what the likely per night room charge would be during the Open week in two years' time, especially as it would have been out of most people's reach even on a normal day.
But today was no normal day. . . . . this was the hotel's donation to my appeal by giving courtesy of the hotel for myself and my paying playing partners (profits for the sale of their room to the appeal). It was the day that I would be taking on the challenge at this seaside gem. Disappointingly, the weather was not looking too clever or indeed appealing, but being Scotland, light drizzle was probably a blessing, as conditions could so easily be much worse. When I say so much worse, Tom Watson famously scored 74 on his final round here to secure the championship (in 1977) on the same day that the tented village blew down in hurricane conditions! So I really did had cause to celebrate our weather! Sadly, we discovered later that even in relatively benign conditions, 74 is a score much better than any of us could muster.
At breakfast, I scanned the room for a familiar face (I had met Nigel at a golf day nine months earlier for the first time and only communicated by email since). He emerged discreetly from behind a broadsheet, aware that soemeone would be lurking with intent to be reintroduced. Introductions to his playing partner, Frank and Ana over, we settled down to start offsetting the fatigue and lack of sleep with the heartiest of UK breakfasts having made arrangements to meet on the tee. It was fortunate that my theory that rest and food are interchangeable - not enough rest can be compensated for by more food and vice versa.
John had driven up from the South East (he is a member of my golf club) combining his passion for Newcastle United with some business meetings as well as supporting my appeal). Frank and Nigel both supported the local economy by hiring caddies before we all set off into the murk. It was not long before we heard the famous quote 'Aye, if you can't see the Ailsa Craig, it's raining and if you can, it's just about to'.
Probably five holes had been played when out of the murk appeared the famous rounded grey rock in the sea to the west. It is in mid channel between the Scottish mainland and the Kintyre Penninsula. Made of granite, it is the traditional source of curling stones. The weather was improving. The improvement did not help us with some of our issues with the golf though. The swirling wind, imperceptible gradients and unfathomable distances were continuing to erode our ability to score consistently. On one short hole (a par 3), Frank pulled his ball left. Three players headed for where we thought it had landed, only to all be embarrassed by Frank's caddy Tom. His complete faith in his own assessment of where the ball had landed of course proved him to be correct when he found the ball lying in some seriously long grass (at least 20 feet from where we had been searching)!
We continued our round and were blessed with fantastic sunshine, although this was marred somewhat by John's whingeing about his injured shoulder (injured the previous day skimming stones on Loch Lomond)! Undertsandably he was concerned aboput his drive back to Windsor. Probably a seven hour schlep with one hand on the steering wheel while the other left in a position inappropriate for driving, but one which offered him pain relief for his damaged shoulder. Perhaps his marathon drive would be more worthy than mine, had it not been for his over zealous but inappropriate youthfulness that created the need for his challenging journey home. . . . . perhaps we had more in common than first appeared, only my marathon was through choice as well as circumstance!
We were fortunate enough to play the world famous lighthouse hole in perfect visibility and sunshine, with that whole seaside section of the course being a real highlight of the courses I visited on the challenge.
A collection in the bar after our round confirmed what had until then been a myth - I know you think I am setting you up for a line about fabled Scottish meanness, but this is not what I mean. An old lady donated three pounds. . . . . . and this was paper money - Clydesdale Bank pound notes x 3. Pound notes still exist in the UK as legal tender.
Ana had departed early to meet a friend (Tanya) at Glasgow airport. Following a shower, some food, perusing the photo gallery at the golf club and some interesting conversations with US golf tourists about golfing on a motorbike, I departed to Glasgow to meet up at a B&B. As with much of the accommodation, this was offered free and was especially comfortable as it was a personal friend of Ana and Tanya. Wilma, the landlady was a fantastic host. She communicated the mystique of the Loch Lomond Golf Club as communicated by the locals and gave me a mission to tell her first hand my experiences.
More will follow . . . . .
So far £27,300 has been raised by this appeal - the new target is to reach £30,000, triple the original target set. More details at www.ARoundWIthRog.co.uk
Published on writebuzz®:
> A day in my life