Over the past ten or so years Scotland has seen the addition of a number of quality new links golf courses, most notably Kingsbarns, Castle Stuart, The Castle Course, and Machrihanish Dunes. Collectively they have added to the overall wealth of golf in the country, and they have each received various awards and rankings by different bodies. One of the latest addition to the expanding portfolio is Trump International Golf Links, which opened in July 2012, located a few miles north of Aberdeen on the northeast coast of Scotland.
Another tale of great winter golf in Scotland! I must be doing something right. In the second week of February on a glorious day with a blue sky and a shimmering ocean, I recently played 36 holes of golf at the recently opened and strongly acclaimed Machrihanish Dunes, and also the much loved Dunaverty. My fourball included Richard Simmons, Editor of UK publication Golf International, plus my good friends Ronan Rafferty, former Ryder Cup player, and Alan White, Chairman of the Scottish PGA.
Having last visited Machrihanish Dunes early in its construction, I went for my first game with a sense of anticipation. Well I can tell you I was certainly not disappointed. It occupies a marvelous piece of land with spectacular views right on the edge of Machrihanish Bay; its layout twisting and turning through the gentle dunes to provide a thorough test and outstanding experience. There are a number of blind shots (which is all part of the game), and it is certainly a tough golf course to play on the first circuit, but if played from the appropriate set of tees it is an extremely playable golf course by all standards. It might not have the “smoothness” of many new courses. So what. They will continue to refine and fine tune in all areas, and it will only get better. Pure and simple, it gets my vote, and I encourage all true lovers of the game to make a visit. You want unspoiled links golf the way it used to be?…then this is the real deal.
Another bonus for me was a game at Dunaverty, located just 20 minutes south of Machrihanish. It enjoys a wonderful location right on the south eastern tip of the Kintyre Peninsula, with different but equally fabulous views as experienced from Machrihanish Dunes. At less than 5,000 yards and a par of 66, it is the perfect second round! It’s par three 7th hole claims the only bunker on the golf course, and accordingly is mischievously called “St Andrews” -:)
The extremely comfortable Ugadale Cottages now available in the village of Machrihanish provide the perfect accommodations for golfing groups with excellent casual dining available in the Old Clubhouse. You can now follow this exciting addition to the Scottish golf scene on their facebook page.
If you want to experience great links golf, get over there!
A recent article on the Scottish Golf Union website regarding winter training plans for their elite amateur players made me give some thought to the variations between Great Britain & Ireland (and indeed all countries governed by the amateur status rules of the R&A) and the United States (governed by the amateur status rules of the USGA) in the funding available to young amateur golfers.
Most young amateurs in the United States have historically had access to funding through the outstanding collegiate golf system, which allows academic development AND the pursuit of golfing excellence. Outside of the college golf system however, young players in the USA required family to support them financially in their participation in various amateur events throughout the country during non college time (USGA Amateur Championships, North & South Amateur, Porter Cup etc), often a very expensive exercise with entry fees, accommodation, meals and lodging etc. The USGA rules of amateur status previously did not provide for the provision of financial support for players over the age of 18 by anyone other than family.
Outwith the USA, although there are a number of universities offering golf scholarships providing a balance of academic and sporting excellence, most notably University of Stirling (which amongst others produced Richie Ramsay from Aberdeen the 2006 US Amateur Champion) in Scotland, university/college golf events do not generally represent the highest level of amateur golf. Instead, the majority of young amateur golfers require to seek competion at the highest level in various national and international amateur competitions. Hence funding for young amateur golfers to participate in these events for their development has been required for to be made available through sources other than family, and to have been allowed in the rules of amateur status as layed down by the R&A. There are checks to ensure remuneration of expenses is not abused, and funding must be provided through a player’s area or national association.
My personal experience of the systems on each side of the Atlantic, while a long time ago (and getting longer -:) nonetheless remains fresh in my memory as a scholar athlete on at Ohio State University, and then at the University of Stirling from where I graduated in 1984. My brother Gordon, co founder of PerryGolf was a scholar athlete on the Mark H McCormack scholarship at the College of William & Mary.
The R&A and USGA do work very closely in many areas, although as regards amateur status there have been variations over the years, as each body has tailored its rules to suit evolving circumstances as they best see fit. For the time being they seem very well aligned. In this ever changing world, with the best amateur golfers very quickly able to make their mark on professional golf, there is however much debate and discussion in general about the future direction of “amateur golf”, and there are of course many views! Time will tell.
The R&A have announced that Royal Liverpool Golf Club will host The Open Championship in 2014. It will be the 12th time the Hoylake links has hosted golf’s oldest Major.
It has always been one of the finest and most enjoyable venues on the Lancashire coast, however during an almost 40 year absence from the British Open rota between 1967 when Argentinean Roberto De Vicenzo became the first South American to win a Major, and 2006 when Tiger Woods became a back-to-back Open Champion, it arguably did not receive the attention of the golfing world which it deserved. It has certainly been a consistent favorite with PerryGolf clients, and indeed we have taken passengers here on our golf cruises to enjoy this great links course on a number of occasions.
The Club has a rich and illustrious history. In 1885 the links hosted the first Amateur Championship; in 1902 the first ever international golf match which was between England and Scotland (the centenary of which in 2002 I was very privileged to have played in … and yes, 100 years on we beat England again-:); and, in 1921, the first international match between Great Britain and the United States of America, which we now know as The Walker Cup. In fact, it is Royal Liverpool Golf Club’s contribution to the amateur game that has set it apart from all other clubs in England. Although, at the end of the nineteenth century, it was the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews that took on the role of the governing body in golf as the game developed, it was at Hoylake that the rules of amateur status were laid down.
ROYAL LIVERPOOL TO HOST THE 2014 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
16 February 2010, Hoylake, England: The R&A has announced that Royal Liverpool Golf Club will host The Open Championship in 2014. It will be the 12th time the Hoylake links has hosted golf’s oldest Major.
The venue has witnessed a string of unique Open Champions: in 1907, Arnaud Massy became the only Frenchman to have won the title; Fred Daly became the first Irishman to do so, in 1947; and Argentine golfer Roberto De Vicenzo became the first South American to win a Major when he lifted the Claret Jug in 1967. When The Open returned to Hoylake in 2006 after a 39-year absence, Tiger Woods became the first back-to-back Open Champion since Tom Watson in 1983 in front of 230,000 people, a record attendance for the Championship in England.
Two of the three amateurs to have won The Open were Royal Liverpool members: Hoylake-born John Ball Jr, the first Englishman to win The Open, lifted the Claret Jug at Prestwick in 1890; and Harold Hilton, who, on his home course in 1897, won his second title at the first Open Championship to be staged in the north west of England. The only other amateur winner is Bobby Jones, who won his third Open at Hoylake in 1930: the second of four steps to his unprecedented and unmatched Grand Slam.
In 1885, Hoylake hosted the inaugural Amateur Championship – the first of 17 to date – and, in 1921, it staged the first international match between Great Britain and the USA, a contest which would later become the Walker Cup Match.
“We are delighted that The Open is returning to Royal Liverpool after a relatively short period of time,” said David Hill, The R&A’s Director of Championships. “In 2006, Hoylake showcased links golf at its best and players, spectators and officials were united in their praise for the course, and for the venue as a whole.
“We would like to thank the Club’s officials for their unfailing co-operation, which has enabled the Championship to come back to Royal Liverpool, a Club whose history is interwoven with both The Open and The R&A.”
Paul Cassidy, Captain of Royal Liverpool Golf Club added, “we are very proud of our Club’s rich heritage and the many memorable golfing moments staged at Hoylake since our founding in 1869 and are extremely thrilled to be again invited to host The Open Championship in 2014. We are thoroughly looking forward to working with both The R&A and Wirral Council in the planning, organisation and staging of another successful Major championship.”
With The Open Championship estimated to boost the local economy by £70m each time it is played in the north west of England, the news has also been welcomed by Councillor Steve Foulkes, Leader of Wirral Council.
“This is fantastic news for Wirral. We look forward to getting ready to welcome new visitors to the Peninsula as well as returning golf fans who enjoyed themselves so much with us four years ago,” said Councillor Foulkes.
“The return of one of the world’s biggest sporting events to Royal Liverpool Golf Club is not only great for Wirral, but the whole of the North West. We are absolutely committed to ensuring local residents, businesses and golf fans alike benefit from this fantastic opportunity once more.”
1907 – Arnaud Massy (FRA) 1956 – Peter Thomson (AUS)
1913 – J H Taylor (ENG) 1967 – Roberto De Vicenzo (ARG)
1924 – Walter Hagen (USA) 2006 – Tiger Woods (USA)
1930 – Bobby Jones (A) (USA)
Note to Editors
Based in St Andrews, The R&A is golf’s governing body and organiser of The Open Championship. The R&A is committed to working for golf and operates with the consent of 138 organisations from the amateur and professional game and on behalf of over thirty million golfers in 124 countries.