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More Confessions of a Weekend Golfer: Golf In Scotland

Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
William Shatner, Sept/Oct 2006

(continued from page 2)

My prayers were answered. With sleep and rest, I returned to the old Marvin. I went out with a 44 and came back with a 45, for a round of 89. I had six pars and a birdie. Tony played extremely well with an 84, including 11 pars. There was a God!

While the course was amazing—among the most beautiful I had ever played—with its wider fairways, it proved to be a great venue for my mid-level golf game. The course reminded me of Pebble Beach, with its ragged rocks at the water's edge.

Monday, June 26
Today, we headed to the home of golf, St Andrews. This was the day I had been dreaming about. We checked into the Old Course Hotel. Out my window was the historic course. And I could see the famous footbridge.

My opponents this day were Johann Rupert, the South African entrepreneur and CEO of Richemont, and Jean Engelbrecht, who is partners with Ernie Els in his wine company in South Africa. I played against Rupert in March at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida (see story, page 110 of the June issue of Cigar Aficionado), when I was teamed with Els. Since Rupert is a member of the Royal & Ancient, he was able to secure an otherwise very-difficult-to-get tee time of 3:20 p.m. There was a message in my room to meet Johann and Jean at 1:45 p.m. in the Sands restaurant off the hotel lobby. Johann is very competitive. Marvin is very competitive. This would be an interesting day. Would Marvin, the shotmaker, show up?

At lunch the teams were agreed upon: America versus South Africa. They and Tony would all play as 8s. I would play as an 18. Thus, I would get five shots a side. A five-pound Nassau was agreed. Although Johann had requested four caddies, only one was available. As we teed up on the first tee, a second caddie arrived. Genuinely courteous, Johann insisted that the Americans get the caddies while he and Jean use pull carts. The only stipulation was they could also have the caddies help to read greens. Of course, I agreed.

This match was without question the highlight of my trip. Pinch me. I was playing St Andrews Old Course. It was a magnificent day. And nothing could spoil it. Nothing.

The course offered many interesting challenges. The greens going out for the first nine holes had white flags, while the nine holes coming back had red flags. On a number of holes, other players crossed our fairway and there were a number of shared greens. While teeing off on a number of holes, you also had to drive on an imaginary line, as you could not see the fairway. The views were blocked by high gorse and mounds.

Going out, the American team was three up on the strong play of Tony. He shot a 41, as did Johann. I had a 46. Not bad! Jean had not played in several months and it showed. While he hits a very long ball, many landed out of bounds and he was in his pocket on many holes.

Coming back was a different story. Johann doesn't like to lose. He was playing without much help from Jean, who in all other ways is a delight. The South Africans were down four with four holes to play.

Johann declared, "We are down but not out." He started to make his move. On the difficult 15, he won with a bogey. Three down with three to go. On the 16th, he had a spectacular second shot to land six inches from the pin for a birdie. Two down with two to go. The pressure was on.

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