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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

For years, I used to hear about friends taking days off from work to play golf. I didn't get it. Even worse, when they would travel, they would always take along their golf clubs. I didn't get that either.

Now I am as bad as they are! I play regularly and I rarely travel without taking my clubs. Business meetings are scheduled by tee times. What is this world coming to?

I started playing golf five summers ago. Today, I belong to four golf clubs and carry with me a list of golf courses that I'm dying to play. Slowly, but surely, I check them off.

During the summer, because I have a home in the Hamptons on Long Island, New York, I am able to play an amazing number of great courses: Atlantic, The Bridge, Hampton Hills, Maidstone, National, Noyac, Sebonack and Shinnecock. Not bad for a weekend golfer!

For the first time, I would be going to Scotland to play golf. The plan was six great courses in seven days. I was told the weather may be cold, windy and rainy. No problem.

I was told they're all walking courses. Now, that's a problem. I usually ride. I have bad feet, am out of shape and have no stamina. This could be the first true test of my love for the game. Could I hang in there and show up to play each course?

I would be traveling with my wife, Hazel, and our good friends Tony and Janet Goldman. He's a 10 handicap and has played the courses of Scotland many times. I'm a 19. This could be among the great weeks of my life (weather permitting).

Thursday, June 22
As our Continental flight No. 16 from Newark entered Scottish air space, the excitement began. Below me, out my windows, I began to see gray, thick-layered clouds. Between the cloud openings, I began to see lush, green lawns and thick forests intermingled with numerous small lakes of mirrored glass. As I came closer to Glasgow's Airport, small houses dotted the landscape followed by large industrial buildings and high rises. My flight touched down at exactly 7:46 a.m. My journey had brought me to the birthplace of golf. I sensed the aura and the history and I felt the excitement of the moment.

Although I was unable to sleep on the flight over, my engine is running full throttle. We rented a car and were off on our first leg to the Westin Turnberry. After about an hour's drive, we checked into our hotel, which was first-class in every way. (For a listing of hotels in Scotland, see the map on page 104.) We settled down, had lunch at the golf course grill and then were off to our first match at the Turnberry Ailsa Course with a tee time of 2:40 p.m.

The weather was cold (in the 50s), windy (a two-club wind) and off-and-on light rain. Welcome to Scotland! Tony and I were introduced to our caddies, Ian and Steve. We stepped up to the first tee box, full of adrenaline, and hit our balls into the fairway. For the first few holes my game was awesome. I parred the first hole followed by four bogeys, which for me is as good as I get. Then my day turned to night!

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