Around the Top 100 World – Day 91 to Day 100 and reflections

Click here for trip summary & overview

Day 91  Drive Springfield/eastern Long Island                                           Play Maidstone

At 6:30 am Dan and I headed out from Springfield and drove 142 miles to the eastern tip of Long Island. After two and one half hours we were at the Maidstone Club (rated 55, designed by W. and J. Park 1891 and remodeled by Tucker)(first played July 1984 and last played September 1992/total 4 rounds). There we met host Jim Lowrey (1980) and club president Dick Smith. During the past two days the exposed course had been subjected to heavy rain and strong winds. However, that day we had bright sun, 75 degrees, and only a 5-mph wind. (This seaside course is designed for strong wind.)

With caddies we had no one ahead of or behind us even though this was a busy late-July weekend. The fifteenth tee is on top of a dune with a sandy beach and then the blue Atlantic Ocean. I could reflect on how I had almost touched the same body of water at Seminole on Day 4 and Ballybunion on Day 47. Certainly the weather on Day 91 was a  substantial improvement over what had been endured at Ballybunion.

After golf we enjoyed a simple lunch by the crowded sunbaked pool close to the beach. Then there was a 20-mile drive west to the National Golf Links clubhouse. Because dinner is not served at the National we wandered out to the main highway and found Meson Ole in Southhampton. The food was acceptable; one cannot be too particular on a busy summer night in the Hamptons.

Day 92  Play National Golf Links         Play Shinnecock Hills          Drive Shinnecock/Springfield

At 8 am my host from Quaker Ridge, Jeff Lewis, appeared with his friend and Maidstone member Todd Morley. We had breakfast in the National clubhouse and were entertained by the friendly chatter of the waiters. Then we went to the first tee with caddies at a hazy and humid 75 degrees along with a 10-mph wind. Even though this was another busy weekend day at the National (rated 22, designed by Macdonald 1911)(first played July 1979 and last played September 1993/total 5 rounds) we toured the course unimpeded.

After the round Dan and I drove a short distance to Shinnecock Hills (rated 7, designed by Flynn and Toomey 1931)(first played July 1979 and last played September 1992/total 6 rounds). The original schedule called for play there the next day. However, after returning from Interlachen and feeling confident about accelerating the schedule, I asked host Kevin Costello (1978) if we could play that afternoon. Although it was a big member-guest day and Kevin was participating, he said no problem.

At 2:30 pm we had lunch on the porch of the handsome clubhouse with the course in full view and the windmill at the National in the distance. Then we were on the first tee with caddies. The weather was cloudy, humid, and 80 degrees, but there was a refreshing 15-mph sea breeze. As the round progressed the wind picked up to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph. These conditions showed off Shinnecock at its best. We basically had the course to ourselves until we bumped into a group on the eleventh hole. Kevin is as knowledgeable about the design evolution of his course as any of those I visited with on the trip were about their courses.

After finishing in the early evening and having some refreshments, Dan and I had an above- average meal at a nearby seafood restaurant. We reflected on how we had played the courses ranked #22 and #7 in the world in a single day that included excellent companions and fairly good weather. It was the third-best day of the trip, and I was pleased that Dan had been able to enjoy all three of the highlight days.

Then it was back to reality with a tough 125-mile, three-hour drive covering the heavily trafficked length of Long Island, over the crowded Verrazano Bridge, through a snail’s paced traffic jam on Staten Island, on to New Jersey,  and finally to my Springfield condo.

Day 93  Drive Springfield/Mamaroneck                                          Play Winged Foot (East)

Drive Mamaroneck/Garden City

At 10:30 am Dan and I headed out through the New York metropolitan area traffic to Mamaroneck, New York (50 miles), and Winged Foot. A few days before I had called host Jack Creamer (1990), who has been a member for 42 years (his father joined in 1926). With the PGA Championship being held ten days later Jack had needed to consult famous Winged Foot caddiemaster Pat Collins. It was decided that we could play the East Course (rated 85, designed by Tillinghast 1923)(first played June 1975 and last played September 1991/total 4 rounds) on the afternoon of Day 93. (It had previously been scheduled for Day 97.)

So around 1 pm Dan and I had a caddie and Jack was in a cart on a vacant course in 90-degree heat with high humidity, no wind, and cloudy skies. There was a forecast of thundershowers for later in the afternoon, but they never materialized. Jack has as much knowledge about the design of both courses as any member, so we received superb insight into the differences between the East and West Courses. The members favor playing the East because more clubs in the bag are used than on the longer and tougher West.

After a reasonably good dinner at Rich’s 19th Hole Pasta House in Mamaroneck Dan and I drove 30 miles to Long Island and the Garden City Hotel (only got lost twice). Sleep was disturbed by a noticeable pop in the air conditioner about once every half hour in this high-priced facility.

Day 94  Play Garden City     Drive Garden City/Mamaroneck      Play Winged Foot (West)

Drive Mamaroneck/New Haven, CT

Just after 7 am Dan and I went across the street from the hotel to the Garden City Golf Club (rated 64, designed by Emmet 1902 and remodeled by Travis)(first played November 1983 and again April 1992/total 2 rounds) and were greeted by host Jimmy Dunne (1990). As noted previously, Jimmy was the third person to play both the World 100 and the U.S. 100 and is also an active member of the panel to choose the World 100. Most important, he was the 1996 club champion at Garden City.

Yale Golf Club

We were the first ones off and had the whole course to ourselves with caddies. It was 70 degrees with bright sun, no clouds, and a 5-mph breeze. In the spirit of Bobby Jones’ admiration of the Scottish links panorama found at Garden City in the 1920s, the club has embarked on an extensive tree-removal program. Hundreds of trees are gone, and more are to disappear. In certain spots you can now see from one perimeter boundary, over the entire course, to the perimeter on the opposite side of the course. In the playing area new bunkers are replacing strategically located trees.

After our quick round Dan was introduced to the famous Garden City showers (the largest heads in the world resulting in a torrent of water and a relaxing massage-type experience). We then were treated to a delicious meal of peach pancakes from the famous Garden City kitchen.

Before noon we were back on the road to Winged Foot and the West Course (rated 18, designed by Tillinghast 1923)(first played June 1975 and last played September 1991/total 7 rounds). We were originally due there on Day 97, but thanks to Jack and Pat Collins we had advanced the date to fit smoothly with Yale and Fishers Island. Just before 2 pm Dan, Jack Creamer, and I were out on the West Course with caddies and no other people playing. There was bright sun with no clouds, 75 degrees, and 10-mph wind — a perfect afternoon for golf and then early-evening shadows. The course was at its sparkling best with PGA tournament rough along with many grandstands and trailers.

After relaxing in the upstairs locker room and another heavy shower, we drove up the road 56 miles to New Haven and the musty Quality Inn. A late but satisfactory dinner was eaten at the Athenian Diner.

Day 95  Play Yale                                                      Drive New Haven/New London

At 7 am we followed the detailed directions faxed to me earlier in the year to find the Yale Golf Course (rated 88, designed by Macdonald and Raynor 1926)(played October 1985). Although it is a busy public course, tee times can be booked. Director of golf David Paterson was very patient with me; I switched the date to play Yale three times. The weather was bright sun with no clouds, 70 degrees, and just a hint of breeze. Dan and I were on the first tee at 7:51 am with Frank Eckert (1969). Frank is my long-time member-guest partner (Baltusrol, Pine Valley, and at his Patterson Club in Connecticut). Because of the trip we were not able to slay the enemy in any 1997 events, so it was good to see him that day.

We carried our clubs on this very hilly and rocky course. Many players were evident. and the round took about four and one half hours. We then went back to the Athenian Diner, but the meal was not nearly as good as the previous night’s. Then we drove 57 miles to New London and the Radisson Hotel. A below-average Italian meal was served in the hotel dining room.

Day 96  Ferry New London/Fishers Island                                     Play Fishers Island

Ferry Fishers Island/New London                                       Drive New London/Springfield

On this late July day I was able to take pleasure in the most relaxing mode of transportation used to reach any of the courses on this trip. At 6 am Dan and I were at the local Dunkin Donuts for breakfast. Then we went down to the harbor for the 7 am ferry to Fishers Island, New York, which is in Long Island Sound. The weather for the 10-mile, 45-minute ride was glorious — almost blinding sun bouncing off the blue water, no clouds, 70 degrees, and a light breeze. I was able to sit outside in the refreshing sea air and reflect on the 95 previous days — the miles traveled, the variety of weather, the experiences, and how very lucky I had been.

With our golf bags on our shoulders we walked off the ferry and were met by host Charlie Arnold (1995). Transportation to the course was via Charlie’s on-island limo (1978 VW Dasher Diesel), a perfect illustration of the laid-back atmosphere of the island. Before play we said hello to head professional Tom O’Brien (1995). The Fishers Island Club (rated 59, designed Raynor 1917)(played October 1990) is a low-key, very private club. We were the first group off, with clubs on a motorized cart.

The course is exposed to the elements, and usually a strong wind blows. That day it was benign, and the bright sun shimmered off the blue water that can be seen from many holes. There are so many spectacular views it is difficult to decide which is number one. In my notes for the day I wrote ”lovely,” “paradise,” “quiet,” and “peaceful.” We were seeing Fishers Island at its magnificent best.

After golf Charlie took us to the beach snack building for lunch and then drove us back to the ferry. The return trip provided as good an opportunity for reflection as that in the morning. Then it was back to reality with 166 tough miles through heavy traffic and construction. Three hours later we were back in Springfield.

Day 97  Play Baltusrol (Lower)                                                  Drive Springfield/Pine Valley

Just before 9 am Dan and I drove less than half a mile to Baltusrol Golf Club (Lower Course rated 37, designed by Tillinghast 1922 and remodeled by R.T. Jones and then Rees Jones)(first played June 1966, eventually became a member in 1976 so have played at least 1,500 rounds). As previously stated, I had hoped to finish the trip there at Baltusrol with family and friends. However, when the trip was moved up a day because of the problem with Colonial, I could not shift my own club into the new final day because the Lower Course was closed for a large corporate outing. The two Winged Foot courses had originally been scheduled for Day 97, but thanks to Jack Creamer they have had already been taken care of. Thus I moved Baltusrol from the next afternoon to the morning of Day 97.

Baltusrol, Lower Course, New Jersey

At 9:30 Dan and I were on the first tee with members John Walbridge (1983) and Dick Brown (1992). We had caddies and it soon became 90 degrees and humid with no wind, and mostly sunny. Although I have played the course many times I have never taken any notes on its architectural characteristics. Today I took many pages of notes in the same context as for each of the courses on the trip.

After lunch at Baltusrol Dan and I drove 92 miles south to Pine Valley and the home of Jim Marshall. The unofficial Marshall coat of arms is a decoy, and thus his home is known as “Decoy House.” In addition to sampling Jim’s extensive golf library, a benefit of staying there is being subjected to his “test.” You are given three tries to hit a flop shot over his sofa and stop the ball on a small rug. In attempting the shot you are staring directly at his large picture window just beyond the rug. Fortunately, the ball is made of Styrofoam or cork. Dan and I were successful on the fifth attempt, which was substantially better than Nick Faldo, who had  to take over 20 swings before accomplishing the feat.

Before dinner I took Dan to the practice tee for some amateur instruction on his golf swing. There is no more peaceful place in the world than the Pine Valley practice area in the early evening with the sun setting. While there we ran into the club chairman Ernie Ransome. Before the trip Ernie had expressed great skepticism about the success of my trip. Thus he was more than pleased to hear that everything had gone so well. I told him that one unexpected problem had cropped up —  Ladies Day in general and Ladies Day shotguns in particular. Ernie assured me that I would not run into this particular problem at Pine Valley.

Later in the evening Dan and I delighted in one of the best meals on the trip, produced by the superb Pine Valley kitchen. After dinner Jim entertained us at his home with architectural stories about the Pine Valley course.

Day 98  Play Pine Valley                                                            Drive Pine Valley/Springfield

After breakfast in Jim’s kitchen the three of us were on the first tee (rated 1, designed by Crump and Colt 1913-1922)(first played August 1966, eventually became a member in 1992 so played 65 times). We had caddies, and the weather was 70 degrees and partly sunny with a light breeze. Having the first tee time of the day we basically had the course to ourselves.

With the golf finished before noon, we had another excellent meal in the dining room. Then Dan and I drove 92 miles north back to Springfield.

Day 99  Play Somerset Hills

At 7 am Dan and I drove 30 miles to Bernardsville and the Somerset Hills Country Club (rated 81, designed by Tillinghast 1918)(first played August 1982 and last played August 1996/total 5 rounds). Member Tom Grenier (1977) arranged the day but was not present. (He was at his house in Dornoch, Scotland.) Tom enlisted member Jerry Maher to be our host, and Jerry invited member Frank Thomas to be the fourth. At 8:30 am we were on the first tee with caddies in 75 degrees with bright sun, and a light breeze. Even though it was an early weekend day in August, there was very light play.  It was also peaceful, with birds chirping.

Frank is the golf-ball and golf-equipment official for the USGA, whose headquarters are in nearby Far Hills. While on the first tee he noticed my long putter. In a friendly manner Frank said the USGA had accepted every equipment recommendation he had made except one. I said I was grateful for the association’s farsightedness in not banning the long putter as it made the game more pleasurable for many golfers like myself. I then said that if he was appalled by the implement currently in my bag he should have seen the collapsible job with wings that had accompanied me on the international part of the trip!

Merion, East Course, venue for 2013 U.S. Open Championship

A first on the trip happened today. Not only were Jerry and Frank helpful about the architectural evolution of the course, but also my caddie Billy Williams chimed in when he started hearing the discussion. He had been a caddie there for 32 years and could articulate the course changes he has witnessed over many years. After the golf we enjoyed a  relaxing long luncheon in the cozy men’s grill. Then Dan and I drove back to the Springfield condo.

Day 100  Drive Springfield/Ardmore, PA                                                     Play Merion (East)

It was certainly hard to believe, but that day was the finale. Dan and I were up at 5 am for a 101- mile drive south to Ardmore, PA, and the Merion Golf Club (East Course rated 11, designed by Wilson 1912 and remodeled by Flynn)(first played June 1975 and last played April 1993/total 7 rounds). At 7:30 we were met by host Bill Iredale (1993) along with member Bob Gundeck (1992).

The course was officially closed that day because the club had just finished its annual Wilson invitational tournament. However, Bill is on the Board of Directors and had obtained permission for us to play. So with caddies we set out as a foursome with the whole course to ourselves in 70-degree weather, partly sunny, with no wind. Bill is a long-time member of Merion and is extremely knowledgeable and tremendously enthusiastic about the architecture of the course.

When we arrived on the eighteenth green my younger daughter Jane was there with a camera. She had driven up from Washington, DC, with a friend and was able to take some pictures of the happy finish. I was particularly pleased to have one with me holding older daughter Elizabeth’s lucky rock! A victory celebration was held with Jane at the Radnor Hotel Restaurant in St. Davids.

All good things must come to an end, and sadly this was so very true with 100-in-100. Even though I definitely did not want it to cease and really felt I could have kept going for another 100 straight days, it was very gratifying to finish on such a high note at Merion.

I hope this just completed description vividly demonstrates that it took an incredible number of dedicated people to have the trip go as smoothly as it did. Missing just one course for what ever reason would have greatly diminished the goal — 99 out of 100 just does not do the trick. Therefore, I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every person mentioned in the preceding text for making this trip of a lifetime a smashing success!!

Trip Wrap-Up

I came away from the trip with even more respect for all of the courses visited. Even though I had already played each of them at least once before, I never felt bored on this trip. In fact, each course proved to be even more exciting the second time around because I was paying more attention and taking notes on the design subtleties.

Each day there was an adrenaline rush because I was going to play one of the best courses in the world, usually with one or more remarkable people. For some reason the 5,000-mile flights did not bore me. I do not have Gary Player’s capacity of going to sleep on command (he has been known to go immediately to sleep on a locker-room bench), but I usually had plenty to do and the hours passed quickly.

Every day I would be asked, “How is the trip going?” Not wanting to jinx myself, I did not want to brag about how well everything was going. Thus my standard answer was “So far so good.” Actually the trip went so unbelievably smoothly that in the latter stages I certainly could have accelerated the playing of some courses and finished in less than 100 days. However, 100-in-100 has a nice ring, and also I decided not to tempt fate.

At the outset of the planning for the trip I thought I would be imposing on at least 100 people. However, during the trip I was immediately gratified to discover that most of my hosts were pleased to be a  part of the project.  Sandy Tatum put it most succinctly and beautifully:

“Congratulations on making Phineas Fogg’s fanciful journey pale into insignificance by comparison!

It must have been, however exhausting, a sensational odyssey. To have been able to conceive of it is mind boggling, but to have brought it off puts it up there with the guys who landed on the moon.

I take both pride and pleasure from having shared 1/100th of the experience with you at the San Francisco Golf Club. In addition to enjoying that round of golf with you and Jim, I have impressed a number of dinner parties with your saga, and my 1/100th observation of it.

With heartfelt congratulations,”

Buck Mickel wrote “You made my day!! Have fun & good luck on the next 91.” Can you imaging receiving a letter thanking you for being a guest at Augusta National?

Over the course of the trip my length off the tee deteriorated steadily while my pitching, chipping, and putting improved. Thus, the overall effect of the trip on my game was neutral. One of the most often asked questions is my average score. I can honestly say I do not know because I made no attempt to keep score.  I would guess it was in the low 80’s. The exact number of golf balls consumed is also unknown, but it was probably around 100. Some days I lost no balls, and on other days two or three went into the drink or were lost in deep rough. None had to be discarded because of wear and tear.

I know there was some speculation as to when I would play my next round of golf once the trip was finished. I was going to play at Baltusrol the very next day, but I also wanted to send out thank you letters as soon as possible. This process started the afternoon I returned from Merion. Unfortunately, my computerized mailing list immediately went bad, and I had to retype the whole thing. So golf was put off until that weekend, when I did the stupid thing of tackling Pine Valley for the senior club championship. The course beat me into the ground yet again, but for once I had a legitimate excuse. I would say my desire to play golf was on the wane for about a month. I did play, but my heart was not really in it.

In the U.S., what had been a gradual trend to soft spikes has turned into an overwhelming flood. Almost every course visited in the U.S. on the trip mandated non-metal material on the bottoms of golf shoes. However, outside North America the opposite was true, with almost no course mandating nor encouraging soft spikes.

Many people have asked how I was able to handle the laundry situation. Obviously, I had to pack a considerable amount of basic clothing. The laundry stops were Day 10 — Pinehurst, Day 16 — Tulsa, Day 25 — San Francisco, Day 37 — Melbourne, Day 54 — Skibo Castle, Day 69 –Springfield, Day 78 — Pittsburgh, and Day 90 — Springfield.

Because of all the help provided by PerryGolf (particularly Gordon Dalgleish and Pat Truehart in Atlanta and Colin Dalgleish and Cameron Reid in Scotland),  I would like to give them a plug for your possible business. They have completed an agreement with Keith Prowse Company that will give them substantially more access to the Old Course at St. Andrews. To get you there PerryGolf has purchased a Mercedes coach and outfitted it for a group of eight (it normally holds 20) with leather executive seats, tables, bar, etc. There is nothing like it in Scotland.

Cost /IOU’s

The first items entered into my laptop computer each day were the expenses incurred on the previous day. The official cost of the trip was $29,300 (does not include traveling companion or Dan Turner). The breakdown was as follows:

Air fare                                                                   $14,300

Car rental                                                                    1,600

Gas                                                                                   975

Car return to Springfield                                        625

Miscellaneous                                                        1,000

Total transportation                                      $18,500

Rooms                                                                     5,700

Meals                                                                       2,300

Golf                                                                           1,900

Miscellaneous                                                          900

Total                                                                     $29,300

Obviously the low cost was due to the fact that so many people around the world embraced the trip and helped subsidize the undertaking.

However, there are at least 100 “real McCoy” IOU’s floating around the world, and the collection of those markers will take place over the next several years. Actually, payback time has already commenced. Herb McNally (responsible for the Royal Montreal arrangements) claimed the distinction of being first in line. I had barely reached Naples when his fax came roaring in announcing a golf trip to southeast Florida. I was thrilled to accommodate him.


As mentioned previously, I made no attempt to solicit publicity. However, the Sports Illustrated article started the ball rolling. The Friday after the trip ended there was a “McCoy Media Day” at Baltusrol. First a photographer from The Newark Star Ledger took some still pictures. Earlier in the year I had played golf with Rees Jones and Red Hoffman at Olde Florida. Red is a long-time golf writer and became intrigued with the trip. His article consumed an entire page in a Sunday edition of The Star Ledger, which has the tenth largest circulation in the country.

Later in the morning a TV film crew from Fox Sports Sunday spent an hour with me on the course and then in a bedroom in the clubhouse. They had me under the covers already dressed for a typical day’s activity, including golf shoes. The alarm went off, and I jumped out of bed, slung the golf bag over my shoulder, and raced out the door. After the TV crew left, a photographer arrived from the The Philadelphia Inquirer for more still pictures.

Attached are the articles from Sports Illustrated and Golf magazine. For the latter I unsuccessfully urged author George Peper not to mention my ten favorite and ten least favorite of the World Top 100. My feeling is that there are no bad courses on the exclusive list and that their reputations should not be tarnished by a public discussion of “least favorite.” Furthermore, I did not want to offend any of my hosts.

The trip was also referred to in Golf World and Senior Golfer and was mentioned briefly on The Golf Channel.” I also had a 20-minute taped interview on a local New Jersey TV station. Other golf magazines, such as Golf Digest and Golf Weekly, had no interest in the trip because they have their own lists of Top 100 courses and do not want to publicize the Golf magazine list.

One disadvantage of the publicity was receiving a letter from two Texas municipal players requesting that I take them to Pine Valley for a day of golf. Obviously I had to write back to say that Pine Valley was only for members and their friends. In my heart I would like to respond positively to sincere requests such as this, but for many reasons it is just not possible.

Not Accomplished

As stated earlier, I had every intention of writing up detailed trip notes on the laptop computer at the end of every day and then refining them on the long plane flights. It did not take long to realize that this goal was totally unrealistic. Early in the trip my traveling companion, who was supposed to be typing furiously on the laptop that I had purchased for him, was sound asleep as I drove down the highway to the next course.

As for me, each day ended so late and the next day started so early that there was no time to work on the computer. When there were a few available minutes I seemed to be so physically and mentally exhausted that pounding on the computer would not have been productive. Do not get the impression that nothing was written; part of the 1997 “O” was composed and many of the course drafts for the book were revised. It was just that I was not nearly as productive as I had hoped. Then I am always too optimistic about writing schedules, as the lateness of this “O” will attest.

I began the official writing of this document in late December, and it took a while to develop an efficient rhythm for transcribing my notes and memories. I must admit that planning and executing the trip was a piece of cake compared with writing a readable document about it. Thus creating this “O” has temporarily dulled my writing desire.

The Book

In the 1996 “O” I asked for title suggestions and offered an unspecified prize for the best idea. My intention was to publish all the suggestions in this year’s “O.” Unfortunately time ran out, and I am not able to type up the 200 ideas. My friend Mike Cooper threatened to submit 100 recommendations, but he ran out of steam at 50. For the moment the title will be “A Golf Odyssey With The Real McCoy.” I do not think anyone suggested this title, but if some one did please let me know.

I am really excited about my book. It is not going to be easy, but I have a rare chance to make a contribution to golf. However, it is a one-shot opportunity, and I want to do it correctly. I have been an amateur writer for the past 10 years attempting to make the annual travel log as readable and grammatically correct as possible. Nevertheless, I do not lose any sleep over an inadvertent mistake. However, writing a book is a whole new ball game. It is “The Big Leagues,” so I have to give it something special. Unfortunately, I  have not been able to spend full time on it, nor will I ever be able to. There is my livelihood to take care of as well as playing golf, traveling to rate courses, and writing the annual “O.”

As mentioned earlier, the book is going to discuss all the World Top 100 courses, why they deserve to be on the list, and the noteworthy architectural aspects of each course. The trip produced many significant nuggets of information never published before or not well known. The trip also put me in touch with an historian or knowledgeable member at almost every course, so I can call on them to review drafts.

The added dimension that really has my juices flowing is the idea of interviewing all the leading contemporary golf architects. The book is going to discuss the architectural style and achievements of these gentlemen. This interview approach got off to a roaring start in November thanks to Michael Daswick of the Lyle Anderson Company and the Loch Lomond Golf Club. Michael arranged a meeting for me with Tom Weiskopf in Scottsdale, Arizona.

I had never met Tom before, so I did not know what to expect. He turned out to be terrific — incredibly interesting and candid. The meeting started at 9 am in his office with Tom and his most pleasant secretary/assistant Judy McCray. At noon sandwiches were ordered for lunch. The flow of the conversation was going so smoothly I did not want to interrupt it by looking at my watch. It was not until I returned to my car that I became aware the meeting had lasted six hours! In writing Tom a thank you letter I told him if I receive equal time from all the other modern-day architects then the book will be a home run.

For the past four years I have been involved in occasional correspondence with Ben Crenshaw concerning his Sand Hills course. This past October we spoke on the phone, and Ben agreed to meet with me. So in early December I flew to Houston, Texas, and drove to Austin. At his office I spent a fascinating four hours in Ben’s office. He was exactly as you would expect — thoughtful, insightful, easygoing, but also passionate. I was very fortunate to have this high-quality time with Ben because he is extremely busy with the added responsibility of being the 1999 Ryder Cup Captain.

Not only did I obtain some rare insight from Tom and Ben, but also I now can call on them to review the draft sections of the book dealing with their courses and receive personalized responses.


Besides continuing to write the book I hope to visit Ireland (Old Head at Kinsale, Druids Glen, The European Club, Connemara, Tralee, County Lough, and County Sligo); Massachusetts (Nantucket Golf Club); Michigan (Bay Harbor); Oregon (Bandon Dunes and Pumpkin Ridge — Ghost Creek and Witch Hollow); and Wisconsin (Apostle Highlands, Big Foot, Northlands, and Whistling Straits).

So until next year I wish you all a healthy and enjoyable 1998.

Very best regards,

Bob McCoy

Post Script


The first item of note in 1997 may not seem to be golf-related, but there is a golf connection at the end.  In March my wife Hetsy and I flew to Boston and then drove over to Cambridge and Harvard College.  We were there to dedicate a building.

When I attended Harvard (class of 1962) I was fortunate enough to be associated with the Harvard Student Agencies (HSA); working there helped to finance my education.  HSA never had a permanent home and has been on roller skates over the years, moving from one location to another.  Three years ago Harvard broke the news that it was no longer going to provide HSA with temporary office space.

After much work an absolutely sensational building was obtained at 67 Mount Auburn, which is in the middle of the school and only one block from Harvard Square.  A $3.2 million dollar Capital Campaign was launched, and Hetsy and I volunteered to be the lead donors.

Dusty Burke was the first and long-time HSA general manager.  He not only introduced me to HSA but also aided my overall business development.  After college he was responsible for my acceptance to the Harvard Business School (class of 1965).

During the summer after college graduation in 1962 I was the assistant general manager of the HSA and used to join Dusty in hitting golf balls on the Business School athletic field.  At that point I was a former college ice hockey player with no clue about how to play golf.  I had absolutely no inclination to play all the top courses in the world because I did not even know they existed.  It was hitting balls with Dusty that gave me the golf bug — even more reason to be grateful to him.

Dusty was in the Harvard class of 1952 and was an eight-letter varsity man — football, ice hockey (captain), and golf.  Qualifying continually in the #1 position, he played head to head against Paul Harney (Holy Cross), who later became a longtime PGA touring professional.

That explains the Burke part of the building name, but why McCoy?  It is to be hoped that people will think of it as much more than an ego trip.  I wanted to pay tribute to the entire process that enabled an ordinary kid to go to Harvard and then achieve some professional and financial success.  The naming of the building was to make these points to the diverse Harvard community: That the enthusiasm of the Harvard alumni, the “balanced class” admissions policy, and the generous Harvard Club of Boston scholarship program made it possible for me to matriculate at Cambridge. That the HSA experience can be a significant part of a college education. That HSA is much more than earning money and can be a springboard to a successful business career. And, finally, that it is the responsibility of the lucky HSA alumni to “give back” to the institution that provided the foundation for a full and meaningful life.

About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. You can find him on Google+


Around the Top 100 World – Day 81 to Day 90 / Ohio to almost home

To view report click here.

Day 81  Play Camargo                                                           Drive Cincinnati/Columbus

Pat Kelly (1988) arranged Day 81’s play at the very private, low-key Carmago Club (rated 43, designed by Raynor 1921)(first played June 1990 and last played June 1994/total 5 rounds). At 8:30 am I was on the first tee with assistant pro Gary Thullen and member Jerry Dirvin (also member of Pine Valley and Pablo Creek). The weather was gorgeous on this peaceful course — 75 degrees ( eventually rising to 90), blue sky, no clouds, no wind. Even though this was Ladies Day we cruised around with caddies in 3 hours and 15 minutes.

At lunch head professional Dick Plummer (1990) stopped by for a short chat. (We had previously said hello on the par-3 fifth tee, after which he watched me butcher the hole.) Then, in the “small-world category” I spotted a group of eight golfers just sitting down to lunch that included John Keller (1990) and John Mabie (1991) from Chicago. I asked John Mabie about his new son-in-law, former confirmed bachelor and long-hitting Ernie MacVicar (1985).

Camargo Golf Club, Cincinnati, Ohio

That afternoon in two and one half hours I covered the 123 miles from Cincinnati to just north of Columbus and the Red Roof Inn in Worthington. This was my base of operation for the next three days. I spent part of the late afternoon having the oil changed in my Cadillac and then having it washed.

Day 82  Play Scioto

At 9 am I was on the first tee at Scioto (rated 48, designed by Ross 1912 and remodeled by Wilson)(first played June 1980 and again June 1990/total 2 rounds) with a caddie and members Joe Ray, III; his father (1990); and John Jacob (1994). John passed on the very sad news that my good friend Bob Wallace (1994) had lost his beloved wife Mary while my trip was in progress.

The sky was mostly sunny, with no wind and a temperature of 80 degrees. It eventually rose to the high 80’s with high humidity. Even though Scioto is a busy private club we played in four hours with no waiting and no one pressing from behind. On the tenth fairway professional photographer John Grieshop appeared with his camera equipment. He was there on assignment from Sports Illustrated to take pictures of us on the back nine and then do a posed shot with me soaking my feet at the rear of my just washed car (see attached article).

It was weird to feel early in the afternoon that I had nothing planned. There was no long distance drive to do because Columbus has four Top 100 courses. There  I had the comfort of being in one place for an extended period of time. Melbourne, Australia was the only other city where this was possible. An awful Mexican dinner was barely endured at nearby Casa Fiesta.

Day 83              Play Muirfield Village                                                         Play The Golf Club

At 7 am I was out in Dublin at Muirfield Village Golf Club (rated 32, designed by Nicklaus 1974)(first played August 1978 and again June 1990/total 2 rounds), where I was greeted by host Ivor Young (1993). He is a boyhood friend of Jack Nicklaus and because he is in the real estate business, found the property for Muirfield Village. During the round Ivor reported the discussion between Jack and Pete Dye when they were making initial reviews of several potential sites. This is the type of material that should help make my book unique.

Before play I hit a few balls on the huge circular practice facility with excellent turf. By 7:30 am Ivor and I were joined on the first tee by assistant professional Sean Edmonds, who had been an assistant pro at Baltusrol. We had caddies and it was 75 degrees, partly cloudy, and breezy. Quickly it turned very hot (90 degrees) and humid with no wind. To the left of the ninth fairway Ivor pointed out Jack’s eight-bedroom home with separate guest house.

After the round I hopped into the car for a 15-mile drive to New Albany and The Golf Club (rated 34, designed by Dye 1967)(first played July 1976 and again June 1990/total 2 rounds). Arrangements had been made by Jack Dingle, who unfortunately was fishing in Montana during my stay. He kindly arranged for John Gall to be my host at this very private, low-key club with no starting times. (On this day the unpaved parking lot was full, about 20 cars, and the course was crowded, about ten foursomes.) John brought along a lawyer friend Pat Dugan, who turned out to be an excellent player.

At 1:45 am we were on the first tee with caddies. The weather forecast called for afternoon thundershowers, but during most of the front nine there was no problem. On the tenth hole the sun disappeared, and dark skies suddenly appeared. A few holes later we saw some wicked lightning far in the distance, and then the club bell began chiming. This meant we had to vacate the course immediately,  so at the seventeenth tee we headed quickly for the clubhouse.

Fortunately, this spell of lightning and rain passed quickly, and we were able to return to the course after only a 15-minute wait. We were eager to finish as soon as possible because another storm was to arrive shortly. Later we learned that these storms were close to constituting a tornado and did produce hail along with such gale-force winds that trees were pulled out of the ground and 20,000 Columbus residents lost electric power overnight.

After finishing at 6:05 pm and having refreshments, I sped back to the motel and then to a nearby restaurant, where I met Grant Wahl, staff writer for Sports Illustrated” With his tape recorder humming we talked for two hours about my trip. The idea for an article had originated at Pine Valley the previous August, where I casually mentioned the trip to former “SI” executives Mark Mulvoy and Don Barr. I did not think of it again until writer-reporter Rick Lipsey called at the beginning of 1997 and wanted to do an article before the trip started. I told him nothing could  be published until the trip was over.

Muirfield Village Golf Club, courtesy of Muirfield Village Golf Club

Although the article was available to the public in the “SI” Golf Plus edition just after the trip ended, the magazine was type-set and printed during the last few days of the trip. So “SI” took a chance that I would finish successfully. I also thought I was taking a chance because of the notorious “SI” jinx. However, I was reassured that the jinx involved only the people on the “SI” cover. Some of these people immediately had something bad happen to them.

Day 84  Play Double Eagle                                                   Drive Columbus/Toledo

At 7:45 am I said goodbye to the Red Roof Inn and drove 10 miles north through Ohio farm country to Galena, with Grant following. At the Double Eagle Club (rated 74, designed by Weiskopf and Morrish 1991)(played August 1994) we were met by host Dan Minor (1994). Joe Ray arrived, and we had breakfast at 8:15 am in the spacious dining room.

After a short warmup on the exquisitely maintained practice facility the foursome was Joe, assistant pro Gary Christensen, Double Eagle member Dick Savage (also a member of Sand Hills), and the author. Dan had to play in a tournament at The Golf Club. Dick lives in Kansas City and is a friend of Chief’s head coach Marty Schottenheimer. We talked about getting together at Olde Florida here in Naples during Marty’s offseason.

At 9 am the course was empty. Double Eagle is a very private club with about 100 members, and many of those are from out of town. We had caddies and the weather was 85 degrees, with high humidity, sun burning down, no clouds, and no wind. Fortunately at Camargo Jerry Dirvin advised me that Double Eagle did not permit shorts, so I came prepared. (On the World 100 list the other two-long pants clubs are Baltusrol and Winged Foot). We had a friendly match, and yours truly knocked in a meaningful 20 footer on the eighteenth hole that caused Joe Ray’s jaw to hit his knees.

Grant walked the front nine and talked to each player individually. He made a big mistake in  talking to Joe because of the latter’s sneaky sense of humor. In the “SI” article I am credited with owning an island in Canada. This is an absolute joke that made my family laugh. My wife’s grandparents were part of a group that founded the Solid Comfort Fishing Club on the Canadian French River. Every year my wife and daughters vacation on the island. I went up for three days in 1968 and said I would come back once every ten years. Because the camp has a short summer season that conflicts with my golf schedule I have yet to return.

We had a relaxing lunch in the clubhouse, and I was then on the road north for 132 miles to the western part of Toledo. At the Courtyard by Marriott I decided to forgo dinner because of the ample supply of delicious food served at Double Eagle.

Day 85  Play Inverness                                             Drive Toledo/Detroit (Troy), MI

My Baltusrol friend John Walbridge, who was originally from Toledo, found the appropriate person to arrange Day 85’s program. John Hills obtained an 8 am tee time at the Inverness Club (rated 52, designed by Ross 1919 and remodeled by G. and T. Fazio)(played 1984). Joining us were John Walbridge’s brother-in-law Tom Bather and John Hill’s father Arthur, one of the best modern-day golf-course architects.

Carrying my bag was Andrea, who turned out to be the best-looking and sweetest caddie I have ever had. She was entering her freshman year at Miami of Ohio and was all business on the course. The weather at the start was 65 degrees, with bright sun, no clouds, and no wind. It  eventually climbed to a comfortable 85 degrees with low humidity. Even though there was a steady stream of foursomes teeing off, we moved at a steady pace.

Art Hills was soft-spoken, and it was a thrill for me to be exposed to some of his observations about the architectural evolution of Inverness. His son John, an excellent player, competed at the college level against Pat Dugan, with whom I was paired at The Golf Club. After the round I was introduced to the club historian Dr. J. Robert Yoder.

In the early afternoon I drove 120 miles north past Detroit to Troy, Michigan, and the Troy Marriott. At 6 pm Peter McDonald (1978) picked me up, and we had dinner with Bruce Brown at Oakland Hills. Bruce is a past president of the club and it was gracious of him to take the time to host us. Because Peter was not yet a member of Oakland Hills part of my introduction to the club came through Ed Howard (1978) of the Scarsdale Golf Club, who brought fellow Scarsdale member Bob Beauregard into the picture. Bob is a long-time member of Oakland Hills.

In June Peter had been paired with Tiger Woods in the pro am at the Buick Classic in Westchester, NY. Peter was ecstatic about Tiger as a person and said he was a real gentleman in his behavior toward all his pro am partners that day. As only Peter can, he asked Tiger if he had ever won a pro am. Tiger had to think about it briefly and then said no. So naturally Peter urged Tiger to go all out to help the pro am team win the Buick Classic competition.

Day 86            Play Oakland Hills (South)      Drive Detroit/Frankfort        Play Crystal Downs

At 8 am I was on the first tee of the South Course at Oakland Hills Country Club (rated 23, designed by Ross 1917 and remodeled by R. T. Jones)(played July 1982) with Bruce Brown, head professional Pat Croswell, and club champion Don Brooks. I was particularly appreciative of Pat’s appearance on his “day off,” especially after the busy four-day member-guest that had just been completed the day before. In addition to being the club champ, Don won the Michigan mid-amateur at the age of 52. He will be a major force on the senior amateur circuit in three years. The course was officially closed, so board approval was needed for me to play that day. Needless to say, we had the course to ourselves, which was fortunate because both courses here receive heavy play.

On the first tee with caddies it was 80 degrees, humid, cloudy, with no wind. On the tenth tee very dark clouds appeared. Then on the sixteenth hole a steady rain commenced, and on the eighteenth tee the skies really opened up. I had to finish the hole while the rest of the group sprinted for the clubhouse. Completely drenched, I putted out on 18 amid thunder, lightning, and hail. Then came a mad dash to the shelter of the clubhouse.

By 12:30 pm I had had a warm shower, was in dry clothes, and was headed northwest through continuing heavy showers. Along the 260-mile drive the skies began to clear, and I was hopeful of squeezing the next round in. The original plan had been an unhurried drive to Frankfort, playing of Crystal Downs the next morning, and then another leisurely drive to Chicago. It was not until June that my host Roy Vomastic (1995) was told about a Ladies Day shotgun start scheduled on the morning of my proposed round. So the choice was to play late in the afternoon or the following afternoon with the long drive to Chicago following. Making the decision easier was the fact that Crystal is at the very western edge of the eastern time zone and therefore darkness comes late in the evening.

Roy could not make the late-afternoon starting time, so he enlisted son Ed Vomastic, who brought along his friend Peter Sneed. Also present was member Richard Colker (1985), who had been with Kidder, Peabody in London and with whom I played my first round at Royal St. George’s and Sunningdale (New). The weather at 5:15 pm was mostly cloudy, 70 degrees with a 10-mph wind; we had the course to ourselves. On the third hole the sun came out, and the temperature rose to 80 degrees. For the rest of the round we enjoyed the course silhouetted in early evening shadows. The ambience reminded me of the evening round at Turnberry 26 days before. We finished at 9:15 pm with a glowing sun setting over nearby Lake Michigan.

Crystal Downs Golf Club, Michigan

After registering at the Harbor Lights Motel in Frankfort I had a crummy American bar meal at a local tavern.

Day 87              Drive Frankfort/Chicago, IL

At 8 am I started south for a five-hour, 331-mile drive to the Wyndham Hotel in Istaca, IL (west of Chicago, watch set back one hour). With no golf for the remaining part of the day I was able to make some phone calls covering activity for the next two days and also to rest. The food there was slightly below average.

Day 88  Play Medinah (#3)               Drive to Wheaton                             Play Chicago Golf

Drive to O’Hare Airport      Fly Chicago/Minneapolis, MN

The original thought was to play Chicago Golf and Medinah over a two-day period. My two ever faithful Chicago contacts, Steve Satkamp (1977) and Bill Shean (1982), learned that Ladies Day was taking place at both courses on the second day of my proposed Chicago stay. Therefore I opted for a doubleheader on the first day and left the second day open to cover any contingencies.

At 6:30 am I was at the already busy valet parking booth of the Medinah Country Club (#3 Course rated 46, designed by Bendelow 1928 and remodeled by Collis and then Packard)(first played June 1976 and again September 1989/total 2 rounds). I was met by Steve and club member John Winter. We were joined by head pro Mike Harrigan on the first tee with caddies. The weather was 70 degrees, with very dark skies, no wind,  and a threat of rain. As the first group out we had the course to ourselves and the skies eventually lightened up. Mike was an excellent player (qualifies regularly for the Western Open) and was knowledgeable about the architectural evolution of the course.

After the round John, Steve, and I had lunch under a tent because Medinah was in the middle of a massive $15 million clubhouse renovation. Then I drove southwest to Wheaton and the Chicago Golf Club (rated 41, designed by Macdonald 1895 and remodeled by Raynor)(played July 1982). There I met the club president Cleve Carney. Bill Shean was in Northern Ireland at Royal Portrush playing in the British Senior Open.

At the beginning of the year I was talking to Bill about the one piece of the puzzle that was not in place. How was I going to get my car from Chicago to my New Jersey condo within 24 hours? He suggested that maybe a caddie at Chicago Golf might want to go east to see some friends and would be willing to drive my car back if we then gave him an airline ticket returning to Chicago. When I left the U.S. toward the end of May no one had yet been signed up. When I returned to the U.S. in early July my first call was to Bill, and, sure enough, the problem had been taken care of. Head professional Tim Surlas had obtained the services of caddie Justin Scalzo, who attends Villanova in Philadelphia and wanted to go back east at the end of July to see some of his buddies.

So at 1 pm I was on the first tee with Cleve with Justin as our caddie. It was 70 degrees, cloudy, with no wind. Amazingly, there were a couple of foursomes around the first tee. Chicago Golf has few members and a low level of activity on the course at most times. We were able to maneuver through “the crowd” and then had clear sailing for the rest of the afternoon. Cleve was very helpful with the design features and evolution of the course.

At 5:15 pm Justin and I drove to the O’Hare airport, where I turned over the keys to him for a 926- mile drive to Springfield. I went to the United counter to change my ticket because I was a day early. Then I went into the O’Hare Hilton Andiamo for a mediocre dinner. At 8:30 pm I flew United 334 miles to Minneapolis and took a taxi to the Radisson Hotel South in Bloomington.

Day 89  Play Interlachen                                                       Fly Minneapolis/Detroit/Newark

At 6:45 am I took a taxi to Interlachen Country Club (rated 98, designed by Watson 1910 and remodeled by Ross and then R.T. Jones)(played August 1986). It was fortunate that we started early because the taxi driver became terribly lost; luckily I caught it because I had my trusty map. Host Lud Gartner (1986) was there to greet me at 7:30 am. The clubhouse is in the midst of a $6 1/2 million major reconstruction. (Does this theme sound familiar?)

At this point I was one day ahead of schedule because the buffer day reserved for the northern part of the trip had not been used. And it was a good thing that I was there that day because heavy rain and thunderstorms were predicted for the afternoon and the next day. After a dry early summer Minneapolis had received 17 inches of rain over the past 30-days including 7 inches during the past week. In checking with Lud earlier in the week there was a serious question whether the course would be open for play (nearby Edina Country Club was closed that day).

Naturally that day was Ladies Day, but it was not a shotgun so we were able to start on the tenth tee. Because of prior commitments Lud was not able to play, and retired Interlachen head professional Bill Kidd and I went off at 8 am as a twosome with a caddie. Head professional Jock Olson joined us for the second nine holes. The temperature was in the 70’s with high humidity and no wind. The sky was dark, and some rain did fall during the round. Bill Kidd and his father were the head pros there from 1920 through 1993. Jock introduced himself as the “new kid” at the club. Bill and Jock told me everything I needed to know about the design evolution of the course.

Out on the course I was introduced to greens superintendent John Katerheinrich. He had his hands full with pumps running 24 hours per day. The course was very wet but playable. However, the water hazards were at least twice as large as normal, and there were even some big new water hazards.

Another taxi took me to the airport, where I was lucky to find a competent and courteous Northwest ticket agent. Because I was a day early I had no confirmed reservation. The nonstop to Newark was full, but he was able to route me through Detroit. So after 1,015 miles (watch turned ahead one hour for the last time-zone change of the trip) I was at the Newark airport for a taxi ride to Springfield. The first thing I did was check the garage. Sure enough, Justin had done his job; the car was there and in excellent condition.

Day 90  Open

Not surprisingly, laundry was the first order of business, and the dryer produced wrinkle-free golf shirts. Unfortunately, the cable company still had not got its act together, so I was without TV until after the trip ended. The phone worked in all modes, and I was able to contact my hosts for the final days of play and do some reshuffling. In the early evening I picked up Dan Turner at the Newark airport so that he could participate in the final assault.


About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. You can find him on Google+


Around the Top 100 World – Day 71 to Day 80 / New York to Ohio

Click here for trip summary & overview

Day 71  Drive Springfield/Scarsdale, NY                             Play Quaker Ridge

Drive Scarsdale/Newton, MA

The early morning was spent packing the car for the next 17 days. At 10:30 am I left Springfield and drove 63 miles north and east to Scarsdale, NY, and the Quaker Ridge Club. My host was Jeff Lewis, with whom I had had extensive correspondence but whom I had not met. Because Quaker was hosting the Walker Cup in early August 1997, Jeff checked with the club, and it seemed my play there could take place at the end of the trip when I was at Winged Foot next door. Unfortunately, this proved not to be the case;  Jeff called me in early March 1997 with the bad news that I needed to reschedule because of guest-play restrictions due to the Walker Cup. Luckily, I was able to reshuffle Yale and Fishers Island to slot Quaker earlier than originally planned.

The last practice ball I hit was at Olympic (Day 26), and I certainly did not hit any at Quaker (rated 47, designed by Tillinghast 1926)(played October 1982) because they do not have a range. They do have caddies, and this would be my first caddie since Japan. So at 1 pm I was on the first tee with Jeff, Bob Sloan, and Rick Vershure, head professional for the past 11 years. The weather was perfect — bright sun, no clouds, no wind, low humidity, and 80 degrees. The round commenced on a positive note when I ran in a curling putt on the undulating first green for a birdie. Rick was very knowledgeable about the architectural history of the course as well as about the philosophies of Tillinghast. He also played in the U.S. Open at Baltusrol in 1980 and was briefly on the leader board until Nicklaus and Weiskopf began to post their first round 63’s.

After refreshments, it was less than a three-hour drive covering 178 miles to the Holiday Inn in Newton, MA, which is just west of Boston. A mediocre meal was had in the motel dining room.

Quaker Ridge Golf Club, courtesy of Quaker Ridge

Day 72  Play The Country Club (Open)

At 11:30 am I drove the short distance from the motel to Brookline. The original schedule called for play at The Country Club (Open Course rated 35, designed by Campbell 1925 and remodeled by Flynn and then Rees Jones)(first played September 1970 and last played August 1986/total 6 rounds) the following day, but Ladies Day in the morning and a club event in the afternoon required a reshuffling. That day the course was closed for maintenance until 1 pm, so at 1:30 I was on the first tee with host John Sears along with Dusty Burke (1959) and Carroll Lowenstein (1961). These three men were in the class of 1952 at Harvard College, and I was in the class of 1962. John was a long-time friend of Francis Quimet and their desks were next to each other for many years at Brown Brothers Harriman.

The weather looked like a major issue, and at one point it seemed as if the round would not be completed. On the first tee with caddies it was 85 degrees, partly sunny, and humid, with a 10- mph wind. The forecast called for three bands of severe thundershowers to roll through the area during the rest of the day. As the first five holes went by the skies became progressively darker, and the first band of lightning and thundershowers hit as we raced to finish the sixth hole. We went back to the men’s locker room for a one-hour delay.

The skies eventually cleared, and we walked several hundred yards to the seventh tee. As we were about to hit off someone from the pro shop came out to tell us the course was closed for the rest of the day. With the sun now shining this closing seemed strange. We walked back to the men’s locker room, and John spent the next half hour trying to convince the person in charge to let us attempt to finish the round. Finally John was successful, and we again walked out to the seventh tee. The weather for the rest of the round was delightful, and we enjoyed the last few holes in early-evening shadows.

After golf we drove into downtown Boston, where John entertained us for dinner at the famous Locke-Ober’s restaurant. He had made heroic efforts first to arrange the golf and then to make sure the mission was accomplished. Now we were having a sumptuous dinner in one of the great restaurants of the world.

Dusty and I then drove to his home in Sherborn, and I was in bed by 12:30 am.

Day 73  Drive Boston/Montreal, Canada

I was on the road by 7 am for a 352-mile drive through New Hampshire and Vermont, over the Canadian border (now using Canadian dollars), past the outskirts of Montreal, to the western suburb of Ile Bizard and the Royal Montreal Golf Club. I checked into my room and rested a while before dinner. My host for this segment of the trip was Herb McNally. Several years before I had been introduced to Herb by Gerry Heffernan. Because Herb is not a member of Royal Montreal his friend Buster Jones volunteered to be our host. Herb and Buster are members of Mount Bruno in Montreal as well as Muirfield and the R&A. At 6:30 pm I met Herb, Buster, and the club captain David Garner for cocktails and a very good dinner at the club.

Day 74  Play Royal Montreal (Blue)                                                Drive Montreal/Toronto

At 6:30 am I met Herb and Buster in the parking lot next to the pro shop. Herb had an ample supply of donuts from Tim Horton’s (Canada’s equivalent of Dunkin Donuts, named for one of the best hockey players I ever saw perform). Believe it or not, munching on the Horton donuts in the damp parking lot in cool air, shooting the breeze with two other ardent golfers, and waiting for the pro shop to open proved one of the more indelible memories of the trip.

Royal Montreal Golf Club

The three of us were dew-sweepers at 7 am because the course had been subjected to heavy rain during the entire night. We teed off with clubs on trolleys with 60 degrees, an overcast sky with rain threatening, and a light breeze. At this early hour we had the course to ourselves although players were lurking behind. Royal Montreal (Blue Course rated 92, designed by Dick Wilson 1959)(played August 1986) was holding the Canadian Open in less than one month’s time so the rough was a challenge.

We finished at 10:30 am, and I was on the Imperial Highway for 340 miles to the western suburbs of Toronto. The destination was the Best Western Sunset in Mississauga. A below- average evening meal was served in the motel dining room.

Day 75  Play National Golf Club of  Canada                        Drive Toronto/Rochester, NY

At 7:30 am I drove a few miles north to the town of Woodbridge and The National Golf Club of Canada (rated 89, designed by G. and T. Fazio 1976)(played August 1987). There I was greeted by host Lorne Rubenstein (1993) and his friend Howie Ganz. Lorne is considered the best golf writer in Canada, does weekly columns for Canada’s national newspaper “The Globe and Mail” out of Toronto, writes books (latest on Nick Price), is a TV broadcaster, and kids this author about my snail’s-pace typing ability.

With caddies we were off the first tee at 8:45 am in bright sun, no clouds, light breeze, and 70 degrees. There were many players on the course, but we still were able to play at a fast pace. As at Quaker Ridge, my round there commenced with a birdie. The ending was not as pretty for the course is very hilly and difficult. On the sharply elevated eighteenth tee my legs were totally dead, and I could not carry my tee shot over the pond angled on the right edge of the fairway and beautifully outlined by tall bullrushes.

At lunch in the active clubhouse we were joined by club executive director Marinus Gerritsen. Throughout the day Lorne related the history of the club and its founder Gil Blechman. After lunch Gil was available, so we spent some interesting time with him. Then I was back on the road for 185 miles over the Canadian border at Niagara Falls (this was my last currency shift,  now using U.S. dollars), past Buffalo, NY (where I was born), and east to Rochester, NY.

The Depot Motor Inn was just southeast of Rochester in the village of Pittsford. An average dinner was available at  the Ciaoi Restaurant.

Day 76  Play Oak Hill (East)                                     Drive Rochester/Akron, OH

Arranging to play Oak Hill (East Course rated 31, designed by Ross 1926 and remodeled by R.T. Jones and then G. and T. Fazio)(played June 1980) was a challenge because I had no direct contact. My original connection said he would get back to me in May or June, but I needed to firm up the date long before then. So I asked John Walbridge (1983), who runs the Host Committee at Baltusrol, if he had a contact. John put me in touch with Richard Kaul, who kindly made the arrangements. This was not easy because the club was having a three-day member-guest event with a shotgun start on the West Course, and so there were guest-play restrictions on the East Course.  In the end Richard could not make it, so he enlisted Griff Owen.

At 9 am Griff and I were on the first tee along with Greg Lane and caddies. It was 75 degrees with bright sun, no clouds, and a light breeze. Even though there were other players on the course we breezed around in less than four hours. Then I met head professional Craig Harmon and club historian Don Kladstrup.

At 1:30 pm it was back in the car for a 320-mile drive to Akron, Ohio. At the New York/Pennsylvania border there was road construction, and traffic was backed up 10 miles going in the opposite direction. Again I was lucky; the traffic on my side of the road moved swiftly. I arrived at the Firestone Country Club clubhouse and was greeted by host Bob Lauer (1990), Joe Ray, III (1990), T.J. Riley, and John Lahey. Joe was responsible for arranging play in Akron and Cleveland as well as at  Scioto in Columbus. We enjoyed a good meal at the club and then retired to our rooms in the large clubhouse.

Day 77   Play Firestone (South)                                            Drive Akron/Cleveland

Play Canterbury                                                      Drive Cleveland/Pittsburgh, PA

At 7:45 am we had the first tee time on the South Course (rated 96, designed by R.T. Jones 1960 and remodeled by Nicklaus)(played September 1979 and again June 1990/total 2 rounds). Even at this early hour there was much activity around the pro shop because three courses, along with motorized carts, are served out of this central location. There was bright sun with no clouds, low humidity, and no wind. My clubs were on a cart and I walked.

Iconic Firestone water tower

After the round TJ led me 40 miles north to Cleveland and the Canterbury Golf Club (rated 84, designed by Strong 1922)(first played July 1977 and again June 1990/total two rounds). There we were met by one of TJ’s law partners, Dave Weiner. Dave could not play, so he enlisted Richard Griffin and Tom Graham. At 2 pm with caddies our foursome had totally sunny skies, 85 degrees, humidity, and a light breeze. Although Canterbury is a fairly busy private club we moved along at a reasonable speed and finished the round at 6 pm.

TJ then led me to the Ohio Turnpike, and 120 miles later I was in Pittsburgh, PA, and the condo of wife Hetsy.

Day 78  Play Oakmont

At 8:30 am I drove a short way out of Pittsburgh to the town of Oakmont and the Oakmont Golf Club (rated 17, designed H. and W. Fownes 1903)(first played June 1964, then became a member in 1971 and 1972 so played over 100 times). There I met host Jim Malone (1967) along with playing companions  John Birmingham (1970), and Banks Smith. Jimmy successfully ran the 1992 Women’s Open and the 1994 Men’s Open at Oakmont and recently became a member of the R&A.

With caddies we were on the first tee at 9:30 am in weather of 80 degrees, partly sunny, with high humidity and no wind. Jimmy and I have been partners several times over the years, most notably winning the Fox Chapel three-day member-guest tournament in the early 1970’s. On Day 78 we remained undefeated. The always ultra-fast Oakmont greens were even a little speedier because the finals of the club championship were being held that day.

After the round I said hello to head professional Bob Ford. Then  I had lunch with one of my all- time favorites, Fred Brand, Jr. (1967). Fred has been an icon in the world of golf and in 1997 received the very high-prestige Bob Jones Award, the U.S. Golf Association’s highest honor for distinguished sportsmanship. The report of his acceptance speech was truly heartwarming. Today Fred gave me an autographed copy of the book being used to commemorate the award. It is about the forty-second U.S. Amateur held at Oakmont in 1938, in which Fred participated. I am honored to have known Fred for 30 years.

An excellent dinner and a pleasant time was had at the Pittsburgh Club with Hetsy, Cuppy and Gordon Kraft (1965), and Bob Runnette (1967).

Day 79  Drive Pittsburgh/Hot Springs, VA

I left Pittsburgh at 7 am and took the back roads through Western Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, 250 miles later arriving at The Homestead resort hotel in Hot Springs, Virginia. Although the directions were somewhat complicated, they took me on the quickest route with the added benefit of pretty scenery. The customized directions were supplied by Alden and Randy Shriver (1966). In the late 1960’s Randy killed me in the 36-hole finals of the club championship at Fox Chapel in Pittsburgh. We had not seen each other since Bob Runnette brought a group of Fox Chapel golfers to Baltusrol about ten years ago. The Shrivers now live year around in Hot Springs.

The Homestead is located in the peaceful Warm Springs Valley of the Allegheny Mountains, and there has been an hotel on the site since 1766. In 1993 The Homestead and Club Corporation formed a joint-venture company for the management and ownership of the world-famous resort. In 1998 Club Corp. will become the sole owner.

After cocktails at the Shrivers’ home we enjoyed an excellent dinner in the comfortable surroundings of The Waterwheel in Warm Springs. The Sam Snead Tavern also serves a very good meal but was closed that night.

Day 80  Play The Cascades                                      Drive Hot Springs/Cincinnati, Ohio

I was up at 6 am, and Randy appeared just before 7 am at the hotel’s front entrance bearing warm muffins from Alden. We then drove a short distance to the course. Before contacting Randy I had made arrangements to play there through the extremely cooperative head professional Barry Carpenter. Barry was going to play with us that morning, but his wife produced a child the day before. Therefore Randy and I were first off as a twosome at 7:30 am. For many years the course was called the Upper Cascades to differentiate it from one of the hotel’s other courses called the Lower Cascade. Recently it was decided to call the best course simply The Cascades (rated 76, designed by Flynn 1923)(played November 1975).

We had the course to ourselves, which was nice because The Cascades receives fairly heavy play from resort guests. Randy drove the cart with my bag and I was on foot. At first out there was some light morning fog, and the temperature was a cool mountain-air 60 degrees. The sun was bright, and there were no clouds and no wind. The fog quickly disappeared, and the temperature rose to a  humid 90 degrees on this mid-July day. Even though the best time to play here is late October, with the sparkling fall foliage in full force on the nearby steep mountains, that day was an superb alternative. I hesitate to say this because the greens on almost all the course played on the trip were excellent. However, on the basis of  the number of putts holed that day, the greens at The Cascades tied with Royal Liverpool and Oakmont as the best-conditioned surfaces on the trip.

After a relaxing lunch with Randy in the peaceful and scenic upstairs outdoor clubhouse restaurant we ran into Pat Robertson in the pro shop. Randy has played golf with Pat, and so I had the pleasure of being introduced to the famous TV preacher. Then at 12:30 pm it was back in the car for a drive out of Virginia through West Virginia and Kentucky and then back to Ohio. The seven-hour trip covered 427 miles, and I was very happy to arrive at the Harley Hotel (really a motel) just east of Cincinnati in Kenwood. An average meal was served in the motel’s restaurant.


About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. You can find him on Google+


Around the Top 100 World – Day 61 to Day 70 / London to Long Island

Click here for trip summary & overview

Day 61  Play Sunningdale (Old)        Play Wentworth (West)            Drive Virginia Water/Rye

Day 61 was one of the longest days of the trip. Having had less than a full sleep, I left Ascot Place just after 7 am and drove 10 minutes to the Sunningdale Golf Club (Old Course rated 39, designed by Park 1901 and remodeled by Colt)(played September 1985). This is one of the few courses where my initial member contact did not respond and Plan B was activated. Club secretary Stewart Zuill arranged for an 8 am starting time. However, the starter appeared at 7:55 am and posted a sign on the message board “Old Course Closed – Competition.” The man then quickly disappeared, so I went into the pro shop to ask about this surprise development. I was told that the first tee was open and I should hit off immediately.

With trolley in hand I teed off in 60 degrees, no wind, and gloom with rain threatening. I moved along at a reasonable pace by myself with the course open in front. On the fifth fairway a motorized cart appeared with someone from the pro shop. I was told a mistake had been made with my starting time, that a shotgun start was commencing on the Old Course at 9 am, and I would have to finish my round on the New course. I explained that I could only play the Old course, that I would play as many holes as possible, and then come back later in the day to finish the round.

I then actually raced through the next holes (all uphill), reaching the tenth tee in a total sweat. There I realized that the shotgun actually started on holes 10 through 18 because none of the groups were behind me. The good news was that I would be able to complete the round without having to come back. The bad news was that the group immediately in front consisted of  a bunch of hackers and I was looking at three hours to play the last nine holes. Adding to the ordeal was medium-to-heavy rain beginning on the twelfth hole.

Old Course, Sunningdale Golf Club, England

At 12:30 pm the Sunningdale round was concluded, and there was a quick five-minute drive to Virginia Water and Wentworth. There I called club member Jim Loughrey (1996), and he came right over. We went back to his house at Wentworth and met his wife Inga. She produced lunch and a dryer for my wet rain gear. At 2:10 pm Jim and I were on the first tee of the West Course (rated 65, designed by Colt and Morrison 1924)(first played September 1985 and again August 1991/total 2 rounds). The weather was the worst of the trip with tremendous rain falling.

Not only did the rain not stop for one second during the round but also at times it intensified. By the middle of the round there was standing water on all greens and we had to chip to the pins because putting was impossible. The course was unplayable, but thankfully was not closed. The eighteenth green is in a bowl with a somewhat steep walk up a hill and then more uphill walking. To someone totally soaked who had played 36 holes the short walk looked like climbing the Himalayas.

We then went back to Jim’s home, and my heavy-laden rain gear was again thrown in the dryer. We went back to the Wentworth Club for an excellent meal. I was on the road by 8:30 pm for a 100-mile drive south to Rye on twisting country roads. The heavy rain was still falling, and I arrived at The George hotel by 11:30 pm. The town of Rye has very narrow streets and is hard to maneuver around. The hotel was difficult to find, even with the streets vacant, and I was wondering how I would have done it earlier in the evening with heavy traffic.

Day 62  Play Rye                   Drive Rye/Sandwich                          Play Royal St. George’s

I was up at 5 am and drove five miles east to the Rye Golf Club (rated 94, designed Colt 1894 and remodeled by Simpson and then Campbell)(played May 1989). When I left the hotel the skies were clearing, and I had high hopes that the worst was over as far as the rain was concerned. Unfortunately, in the Rye car park the skies darkened and more rain came crashing down. In these miserable conditions I was amazed when my member contact Peter Gracey (1989) pulled up. Peter is a rugged 75-year-old, and starting at 6:30 am we walked all 18 holes together with clubs on our shoulders through rain and wind.

In planning play at Rye Peter Green (1986) had noticed a one-day member-guest event on the club’s schedule starting at 8 am on the first and tenth tees on the day I was originally scheduled to play starting at 8 am. Consultation with the club secretary Major Chris Gilbert determined that by starting at 6:30 am I would be past the tenth tee by 8 am. Rye is not the easiest course for a stranger to maneuver around, especially with head beaten down by heavy rain. Fortunately, Peter Gracey was there to navigate. Rain came down in buckets during the last four holes. Later in the morning I learned that 1997 had the wettest June in England since records began in 1860.

By 9:30 am I was in the locker room stripping off every stitch of clothing on my body. I was wishing for the use of Inga Loughrey’s dryer for my rain gear because there was another round to play that day. After donning a whole new wardrobe I had tea with Peter Gracey, Chris Gilbert, and Peter Marsh (retired Rye head professional after 40 years of service). The long discussion about Rye’s course architecture was very helpful.

I then drove east for 60 miles to Sandwich and the Royal St. George’s Golf Club (rated 28, designed by Purves 1887 and remodeled by Colt/Alison and then Pennink)(first played September 1985 with  eventual membership/total 21 rounds). At the start of the drive rain was still pelting down, but later a miracle appeared in the form of clearing skies with the sun popping out of the clouds.

Just before 1 pm I had a key to a room in the club’s dormy facilities (officially called Club Accommodations). I then called Ian Findlay (1991 and past club captain) and he along with wife Alison came over for lunch. Then Ian and Neil Roach (member of R&A general committee and past captain of Royal St. George’s) were on the first tee with the sun shining, 65 degrees, and a light breeze (a perfect late June afternoon in England). The Findlays had driven down from London that morning in awful weather and thought our chances of playing that afternoon were zero. The rain did continue all day in the London area, causing cancellation of play at the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

That evening I enjoyed dinner at the Findlays’ summer home in Sandwich.

Day 63  Drive Sandwich/Walton-on-the-Hill                                    Play Walton Heath(Old)

Drive Walton-on-the-Hill/Gatwick Airport

The morning of Day 63 had the luxury of moving at an unhurried pace. Being a member of Royal St. George’s provided a little more scheduling flexibility, so this morning had been left open in case of a cancellation on the previous day. I was running a little low on golf balls, so to be safe I bought a dozen balls in the pro shop. I also enjoyed a long conversation with club secretary Gerald Watts.  Then there was a 84-mile drive east to Walton-on-the-Hill and the Walton Heath Golf Club (Old Course rated 79, designed by Fowler 1904)(played September 1985).

My companion for the afternoon was the pleasant, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic Ken Macpherson. Ken has been the head professional for 20 years, and I had a delightful time with him. Before teeing off I made one of the major purchases of the trip. At Wentworth Jim Loughrey had strapped a thin, hard plastic cover over his forehead to keep the rain off his glasses. During that round I became so wet that I could not even take my handkerchief out of my pocket to wipe the rain drops and fog off my glasses. Meanwhile Jim had no problem seeing out of his glasses for the entire round because of his Aquavis protection. I was pleased to find a pair of Aquavis for sale in Ken’s pro shop.

Penina Golf, Portugal

As we started play at 2:30 pm the weather was 60 degrees, overcast with no wind. It looked as if the Aquavis would be put to good use, but the rain held off. Ken and I pulled trolleys and had the course to ourselves. I could not have ended the U. K. part of the trip with a nicer person. Several weeks later Ken wrote me the following: “By now you will probably have had a double leg transplant! I trust that your world tour was an unforgettable experience and I was glad and honored to be a small part of it.”

In the early evening I drove 32 miles south to the Gatwick Airport and the Forte Posthouse Gatwick in Horle. My car for the past 18 days was cleaned out, and all the paraphernalia spread around the car was squeezed  into my luggage. The car was returned to the Budget office, and the previous damage report came in handy as the agent grilled me about the dents and bruises on the car. Then a mediocre buffet dinner was had in the hotel dining room.

Day 64  Fly London/Faro, Portugal                                         Drive airport/Penina

Play Penina                                                                 Drive Penina/Vale de Lobo

At 9:25 am a British Air 737-400 flew 1,048 miles to sunny Faro, Portugal, where I was met by the San Lorenzo director of golf Antonio Rosa Santos (1994) at 12:30 pm (watch set ahead one hour and now dealing in escudos). We went to the Avis car-rental office, and I picked up a car. The next destination was the Merdian Hotel Dona Filipa, which is a 22-mile drive from the airport to Vale de Lobo in Almacil. After lunch Antonio drove 50 miles east along the Algarve to a sister hotel Penina. During my 1994 Portugal/Spain trip Penina had been closed for extensive reconditioning, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to play it now.

We were met by the director of golf Leonel Rio, and the three of us teed off with clubs on motorized carts. We had the course to ourselves in mostly sunny weather, 70 degrees and 10-mph winds. I actually had to use sun screen for the first time since day 21 at Cabo del Sol in Mexico. Penina was designed by Henry Cotton and has strong par 3’s, which makes sense because Cotton was one of the best long-iron players ever. After golf dinner was enjoyed in the attractive hotel, and then Antonio drove back to the Dona Filipa.

Day 65  Play San Lorenzo                                         Drive San Lorenzo/Sotogrande, Spain

Play Valderrama (9 holes)

I was up at 6 am and drove a short distance to the San Lorenzo Golf Club (rated 100, designed by Lee and Roquemore 1987)(played September 1994). At 7:32 am my clubs were on a trolley, and I was a single player with the course to myself in mostly sunny weather, 70 degrees and no wind. On the seventh hole my heart started pumping real fast because a snotty British “lady” was walking two unleashed dogs on the fairway. One dog came charging directly at my ankles with a vicious snarl. The dog circled my legs for about two minutes with constant snarling, which I feared might turn into chewing on my leg. The owner stood by passively and made no attempt to call off her dog. After the animal became bored and walked off the owner said nothing, not even an apology. I had a few choice words for this “lady.”

At 11:15 am I was fortified by candy bars and bottled water provided by the generous Antonio and on my way to Spain. Unfortunately, Avis had no maps of Spain, and mine was missing. Thus I drove the 281-mile route to Sotogrande (now using pesetas) by memory from my 1994 trip. I drove as fast as possible because I wanted to play Valderrama late that afternoon in order to accelerate the schedule somewhat. My goal was to return to the U.S. via the Newark airport at 5 pm and not the distant Kennedy airport at 9 pm.

Arriving at 4:45 pm, I went to see the club general manager James Stewart (1994), who said I could play the back nine;  the front was closed for maintenance. It was now early July, and the Ryder Cup was to be played at Valderrama (rated 51, designed by R.T. Jones 1975)(played October 1994) in mid-September. With golf bag on shoulder I had the course to myself in 80-degree temperature, bright sun, and no wind.

Valderamma, courtesy of Russell Kirk / GOLFLINKS

After golf I went down the hill and over the newly expanded highway to Sotogrande and the guest house of Jimmy Patino (1994), the owner of Valderrama. Jimmy was not in residence, but I did have the pleasure of being with his son Felipe at a local restaurant for dinner that also included James and Connie Stewart. Felipe asked me how I would like to play the next day —  with a caddie, by myself, or with the head professional? I told him my favorite way was alone carrying my own bag.

Day 66  Play Valderrama (9 holes)      Drive Valderrama/Malaga    Fly Malaga/Valencia

Drive Valencia/El Saler                   Play El Saler

At 8 am I was on the first tee, and there was a sign that said the front nine was closed. Felipe had made sure that I would have the whole front nine to myself. Finishing just before 10 am I enjoyed refreshments with Felipe and James before racing 78 miles to the Malaga airport and dropping off the Avis car. During the planning of the trip PerryGolf had noted an early afternoon nonstop flight from Malaga to Valencia. However, I thought the schedule was too tight, so we booked later flights from Malaga to Madrid and then on to Valencia. By finishing Valderrama earlier than planned, I was now able to take Iberia directly to Valencia.

The 293-mile flight arrived at 2:30 pm. I had originally planned to take a taxi for the 17-mile trip to El Saler. However, I asked the Avis representative if she could provide good directions to El Saler so that I could rent one of her cars. She assured me that her directions were foolproof, so I rented a car. The directions were awful, and I became terribly lost. Fortunately I eventually found El Saler and checked into the Parador El Saler.

At 4:45 pm I convinced the non-English-speaking starter to grant me a waiver of the greens fee. I then went to the first tee and was able to join a man and two women. Campo de Golf El Saler (rated 60, designed by Arana 1967)(played July 1987) is a public course with a huge amount of play. I teed off in 80-degree weather, partly sunny, with wind howling at 20 to 25 mph. The course is directly on the Mediterranean, and half the holes are links and exposed to the elements. Play was very slow, and I was doubtful of finishing. Fortunately, my non-English speaking companions departed after nine holes, as did some of the players ahead. I finished at 8 pm as sunset was approaching.

One of the most pleasant surprises on the entire trip was the dramatic improvement in the condition of the El Saler course. When I played here in 1987 the course was a dog track in terms of  conditioning. In fact, I used El Saler as an example to show that not all courses needed to be in Augusta National condition to be rated in the World 100. Today I found a course in above- average condition, especially the greens. This is saying something because El Saler has massive greens that may be the largest in the world 100 (the seventeenth is 54 yards deep, and the eighteenth is 85 yards deep). I was so excited about this development that I wanted to congratulate someone connected to the course. Regrettably, there was no one around.

Before going to dinner, I called Gordon Dalgleish in Atlanta to tell him I was running ahead of schedule and ask if he could change the rest of my flights. Within an hour a fax was received from PerryGolf with the requested revisions. Dinner in the hotel was above average, and I felt satisfied with how well the day had developed.

Day 67  Drive El Saler/Valencia       Fly Valencia/Madrid       Fly Madrid/Paris(DeGaulle)

Drive airport/Senlis             Play Morfontaine

Arising at 5:45 am and with excellent directions from the hotel’s front desk, I quickly made my way back to the Valencia airport in light early-morning traffic. Luckily I was able to gain the attention of an Iberia reservations lady at an out-of-service window so that my ticket could be changed. I was originally going to play El Saler in the early morning and then fly on a very tight schedule to Barcelona and on to Paris. If all had gone well I would have reached the hotel in Senlis at about 11 pm.

The new schedule had a flight to Madrid on Iberia (177 miles) and then a transfer to Air France and on to Paris (661 miles and now dealing in francs). The rental car booth was commanded by a really surly young lady. It took about a half hour to process my simple reservation because some of the time was occupied by a personal phone call. Finally I leaped into the tiniest car I have ever driven — Citroen AX Image (diesel). If I had hit anything I would have been squashed like a bug.

Charging out of the airport, I headed north for 16 miles on the motorway in awful weather — 50 degrees and rain coming down in buckets. Under these conditions there was no way a sane person would even think about playing golf. Coming off the toll road at Senlis I stumbled upon my hotel (Ibis Senlis). Fortunately, I stopped to register and take possession of a room because they had no reservation in my name. I do not know what would have happened under the original schedule with an 11 pm arrival;  the hotel was fully occupied by 8 pm.

Of course, the hotel had no local map, and no one knew where the course was. I had been there in 1990 and received excellent directions at a local gas station. Going on memory and with a couple of wrong turns I found the small village of Mortefontaine just south of Senlis and finally the course. I went into the deserted clubhouse, and a nice young lady said I could play that day even though I was scheduled for the next day.

Golf de Morfontaine (rated 61, designed by Simpson 1927)(played two rounds June 1990) was another course for which Plan B was needed. After my original member contact did not respond, I called Baltusrol friend Mark Williams (1980), and he worked very hard to make the arrangements. In the meantime I wrote the club directly. After more than two months had elapsed, both avenues responded almost simultaneously.

At 3 pm a trolley was obtained from the caddiemaster. He and his wife then watched me unpack the bulky golf travel bag. He must have thought I was daft, and I was laughing at myself as I pulled on all my rain gear, including the recently purchased Aquavis, and headed for the first tee. Rain was still coming down heavily, and, needless to say, I had the whole course to myself. I finished in 2 hours and 15 minutes, and when I returned the trolley the caddiemaster kept asking me dix huit, dix huit? He was amazed that I had played all 18 holes in this cold and rainy weather in such a short period of time.

After golf I spent an absolutely pleasant and informative hour with Jean E. Dulout, directeur du golf. He has been associated with Morfontaine for almost 40 years, and his love for the club and the facilities was matched by his enthusiasm for the history of golf. I felt very privileged to meet and be able to discuss the history of Morfontaine with such a nice man. When I left he said that his friends called  him “Jimmy” and I was welcome to come back any time.

I would love to go there more often because Morfontaine is in such an enchanting setting that it truly is a “course of a life time.” Actually, if I spoke French I would make every effort to try to become a member. So as I walked to the car and drove down the narrow road through a forest of trees there was a glow on my face. The U.K, Ireland, and Continental part of  the trip could not have ended on a happier note.

Day 68  Drive Senlis/DeGaulle         Fly Paris/London(Heathrow) Fly London/Newark

I was up at 5:30 am to pack for the trip home. The temperature was about 50 degrees and the skies very overcast. It certainly would not have been much fun to play an early round under those conditions

The revised plane ticket was now DeGaulle/Heathrow/Newark. It was a good thing I had left plenty of time to get to the plane because the signs at the DeGaulle were terrible and I had great difficulty finding the British Airways terminal and the rental-car return. If I had been on the original very tight schedule of playing Morfontaine that morning and then racing to the airport in late-morning traffic, I think I would not have made it.

Remember I said you cannot plan enough. I learned something new on this trip. If you rent a car in a foreign country you had better be able to translate the rental-car-return sign if it is not in English. With much more time to spare I stopped at an airport hotel and found two helpful young employees. They gave me proper directions and said the signs with “Park de Louage” were for rental car return. Even with directions it was not easy to locate the final parking place for the tiny Citroen.

A British Air 757 took me on a short hop to Heathrow (216 miles and watch set back one hour), where I boarded a British Air 747 for a 6-hour and 55-minute 3,466-mile flight over the Atlantic Ocean to Newark (watch set back five hours and now using good old Yankee dollars). The weather at 90 degrees with sun, was substantially better than what I had left behind in France. The plane was packed, and there was a one-hour gap between touchdown and luggage arrival. A taxi delivered me to my Springfield condo, and I was finally in my own bed at 9:30 pm (3:30 am in France). Despite the 22-hour day I felt lucky because the original schedule had called for an  arrival at JFK at 9:10 pm. There is no telling when I would have reached home or how much it would have cost from that distant airport.

My luck continued. Exactly one week after my trip from Paris to Newark the British Air cabin crews went on a 72-hour union protest, and the carrier was forced to cancel half the scheduled flights.

Day 69              Open

The day was spent doing laundry (desperately needed) and reorganizing the last part of the trip. There were hotels, and host contacts to notify that only one room was needed because I had become a single player with the early release of my traveling companion. It was complicated because Bell Atlantic had crossed my phone line with that of a teenage girl, and I could not receive incoming calls directed to me. I did receive several calls from the girl’s boy friends, and they were not happy to have reached an old fogy. In addition, the cable company had neglected to activate the system and the TV did not work. Also, the dryer would not produce wrinkle-free golf shirts. Welcome home!

Day 70  Drive Springfield/Farmingdale, NY                                    Play Bethpage (Black)

Drive Farmingdale/Springfield

Thanks to Bill Bennett my car was parked in my Springfield garage when I arrived home the night before. So at 5:30 am I arose and drove 70 miles east past Kennedy Airport to Bethpage State Park on Long Island. I had to reprogram my right foot and reduce the pressure on the gas pedal after having raced around Scotland, England, Portugal, Spain, and France without much regard for the speed limits.

The World 100 course that should have been one of the easiest, if not the easiest, to schedule was the public-access Bethpage Black Course (rated 86, designed by Tillinghast 1935)(played July 1969). In my original ideal schedule I nonchalantly slotted Bethpage for late July with the other Long Island courses. I am not going to name any of the people involved in the arrangements because nothing worked as it was supposed to. From September 1996 through June 1997 more faxes and phone calls were made to pin down a starting time there than in arranging to play any other course on the list.

First, I found out the course was going to close in mid-July 1997 for one full year of renovation before the U.S. Open. I was amazed because the Open will be held there in 2002, and the shutdown started in July 1997. Consultation of my magnetic planning boards showed that the only date fitting my schedule for Bethpage was the second day after returning to the U.S. Then the question was how to arrange an early-morning guaranteed starting time on a busy weekend. I was given the name of a Bethpage Park official, who said he would send me the necessary permit to apply for a specific time. When the permit failed to arrive I attempted to reach him several times, but to no avail. I went back to my original contact, but nothing happened there either. Finally, during the early part of the trip, I turned the problem over to Arnold Langer (1994) of Sea Gate Travel, a semi-regular player at Bethpage. Arnold did the trick, but it was not until after returning to the States from France that I was sure Bethpage was under control.

The “sign” at Beth Page Black

The weather during the preceding week had been extremely hot and humid, and Arnold (a thin 68 year-old) decided he needed a caddie because the course is fairly hilly and the ground hard.  But there are no caddies at Bethpage, so Arnold had to make special arrangements. Unfortunately, two men appeared and insisted on carrying all four bags at $60 a bag. We tried to point out that this was a higher fee than one would pay at Pine Valley, but they were adamant. We considered the fee ridiculous, and, because the weather was not hot and humid on that early July day, we told the two guys to take a hike.

Then at the refreshment shack on the sixth tee a burly Bethpage Park employee appeared on an electric cart. He wanted $60 for having arranged for the caddies. At this point it became clear why the initial caddie rate was so high. My impulse was to tell this guy to take a hike too, but I did not want to risk being hustled off the course without finishing the round. So the park employee received his kickback. On the basis of my brief exposure to the machinations of the New York State Parks dominion, I wish the USGA luck in being able to battle successfully through this political and bureaucratic maze between now and 2002.

Thanks to Arnold, I was on the first tee for the 8:08 am tee time with him and two of  his friends, Brad Davis, a PGA member, and Jeff Haltman. We did not hit off until 8:16 and while waiting observed the following sign at the first tee: “WARNING: THE BLACK COURSE IS AN EXTREMELY DIFFICULT GOLF COURSE WHICH IS RECOMMENDED ONLY FOR HIGHLY SKILLED GOLFERS.” In bright sun with no clouds, no wind, and 65 degrees I was back in the U.S. and on the final leg of the trip. It had been six weeks since my last round in the U.S. and, not surprisingly that day would be the longest round of the trip. It took 3 hours to play the front nine and another 2 hours and 45 minutes to play the back nine. After this exhausting round I was back in my car retracing the route to Springfield.


About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. You can find him on Google+


Around the Top 100 World – Day 51 to Day 60 / Ayrshire to Ascot

Click here for trip summary & overview

Day 51  Drive Turnberry/Gullane                                                                 Play Muirfield

Instead of rising at the crack of dawn for the originally scheduled 7:30 am starting time we were able to have a relaxing breakfast in the hotel’s lovely dining room overlooking the golf course and out to the Irish Sea. It is one of the world’s best views from a hotel window. We then had a visit with the hotel director and general manager Christopher Rouse (1995). It turned out that the best person at Turnberry to talk to about the architecture of the courses was George Brown, manager of courses. Fortunately, George was available, and we had a very productive meeting.

We drove 121 miles north and then east past Edinburgh to the pro shop at the Gullane Golf Club. In making arrangements to play Muirfield Plan B had been employed. My initial member contact did not respond, and then I got lucky with a group of Edinburgh golfers coming to play Baltusrol in September 1996. David Kirkwood, member of Gullane, put me in touch with Archie Baird. In the 1992 “O” Archie’s famous golf museum (called The Heritage of Golf) was covered extensively.

Archie took us to lunch at the Gullane Golf Club. Then he and I were on the first tee at 2 pm as a twosome with golf bags on our shoulders and the course to ourselves. Dan was not allowed to play because Muirfield (rated 8, designed by Morris 1889 and remodeled by Colt and then Simpson)(first played October 1979 and again May 1992/total 3 rounds) does not permit three- or four-ball play on any afternoon. The weather was 65 degrees and mostly sunny and a light breeze. Archie wanted to play a friendly match, and he proved to be a fierce competitor with both  his clubs and his mouth. I did not stand a chance!

Archie was the perfect host. He knows an incredible amount about the design evolution of Muirfield. Equally impressive is his ability to turn a great phrase and even to spout poetry. We continued to benefit from his knowledge and enthusiasm with a tour of his museum and at dinner. Greywalls is a famous and impeccable Edwardian Scottish country hotel adjacent to the ninth green at Muirfield. Accompanied by Archie’s wife Sheila (granddaughter of the famous golfer and course architect Willie Park, Jr.) we enjoyed a gourmet meal with excellent service. The whole experience at Greywalls was one of the very best on the trip and put the Glassdrumman to shame. A good night’s sleep was obtained at the unpretentious Mallard Hotel.

Day 52  Drive Gullane/Glasgow                               Visit Brian Morgan’s Golf Photo Gallery

Drive Glasgow/St. Andrews                        Play St. Andrews (Old)

My book will be mostly text with a few pictures that demonstrate unique architectural features. Brian Morgan (1994) is acknowledged to be the most competent golf photographer in the world, and I am fortunate to know him. We had discussed an arrangement over the phone, and then I made arrangements to visit his office during the trip. So Dan and I drove 73 miles to Glasgow and met with Brian’s former wife Dorothy for five hours. She runs the office while Brian travels around the world taking golf pictures.

Old Course, courtesy of LC Lambrecht

Then we drove 86 miles to St. Andrews, where I checked into Waldon House, which is the R&A’s bed and breakfast adjacent to the eighteenth fairway of the Old Course. At 6 pm we wandered over to the starter’s booth at the Old Course (rated 5, original layout sixteenth century with no known designer)(first played October 1979 and last played September 1996/total 5 rounds) and were amazed to find a totally vacant first tee. Dan was dying to play the course, so I asked the starter if we could play then. He said certainly, so I produced my R&A card, which allows free play. An added benefit was that Dan’s 72-pound greens fee was reduced by 50 pounds because he was playing as my guest.

With clubs on shoulders we teed off in 60 degrees with overcast skies and 5-to 10-mph winds. We played the entire round unimpeded. As if on cue the sun came out on the thirteenth hole and bathed the whole course and the town in late-evening shadows. We finished at 9:30 pm and had a mediocre bar meal with excruciatingly slow service at a local pub.

Day 53  Play St. Andrews (Old)                                            Drive St. Andrews/Carnoustie

Play Carnoustie (Old)                                              Drive Carnoustie/Newburgh

Arranging to play the Old Course is difficult, even for an R&A member. Thanks to Euan MacGregor, finance and administration manager for the St. Andrews Links Trust, I was given a 6:50 am time, which was just before the field started. Euan had also arranged for Walter Woods to join me in a twosome. Walter just retired after 20 years as links supervisor for all five courses under the Links Trust. He is an excellent golfer, has an unrivaled knowledge of the Old Course, and gave us some valuable insights into the recent history of the course. Dan walked with us and particularly admired the way Walter raked the two bunkers he was in — efficiently and with a surgeon’s stroke.

We played the round with no wind, 60 degrees, and overcast skies. When we teed off there must have been 50 people surrounding the starter’s booth. Many were single players hoping to fill in for a no show. Our round was completed at 9:45 am, so within 12 hours I had finished two unimpeded rounds on one of the busiest courses in the world carrying my own bag.

Dan and I then drove north for 24 miles to Carnoustie (rated 21, designed by Robertson 1842 and remodeled by Braid)(this was my first links course played October 1979 and again May 1992/total 2 rounds). We said hello to David Curtis, Secretary of the Carnoustie Golf Club, which is a separate entity from the municipally run golf course. After lunch the club historian Bill Coupar spent some time with us.

At 2:30 pm Dan and I were off the first tee as a twosome in 60 degrees, 5 mph, overcast with a threat of rain. Play was slow; two Englishman joined us on the ninth green; and then it rained on holes 11 through 15. We finished in the gloom at 6:30 pm. Then we talked with the course superintendent John Philp for one hour. We would have talked to him longer because he was full of knowledge and enthusiasm about the architecture of the course, but we had a long trip ahead of us.

At 7:30 pm we left Carnoustie and immediately stopped for some traditional Scottish cuisine — fish and chips. We nibbled at the food while driving 85 miles in heavy rain and fog through Aberdeen to the village of Newburgh and the Udny Arms Hotel. At 10:30 pm I registered, and Dan went down the road to a bed and breakfast. After hauling my luggage to the third floor I collapsed and fell fast asleep.

At 11:45 pm I shot awake with the ringing of the phone. It was the front desk demanding to know where my traveling companion was. I told them two things: 1) the reservation had been canceled several weeks before and 2) they had no business calling my room at 11:45 pm to make such an inquiry! I pointed out that they could have made the inquiry when I was checking in. Then I tried to go back to sleep and was immediately hit by severe cramps in the backs of both upper legs. After doing battle for the next half hour the cramps went away, but sleep did not resume until about 2 am.

Day 54  Play Cruden Bay                                                      Drive Cruden Bay/Skibo Castle

I  was up at 6 am and told the front-desk clerk I was not going to pay for my room because the hotel did not provide the environment for the basic service of a decent night’s sleep. I also said that it would be appropriate for the hotel to write me a letter of apology if the room had indeed been canceled in the proper manner.

Subsequently it was determined that the room had definitely been canceled according to the official policy established by the hotel and there was a written record of such cancellation. Not surprisingly, when I returned to the U.S. I found the room charge on my credit card statement and no letter of apology. I will not bore you with the subsequent correspondence with the self-righteous hotel manager Jennifer Craig, who strongly claims never to have made a mistake. Suffice it to say that the hotel can now be referred to as the  “Ugly Arms.”

Now back to the golf. Dan and I drove five miles north to the Cruden Bay Golf Club (rated 99, designed by Fowler and Simpson 1925)(played one round July 1992). In the car park the weather was foggy, drizzly, windy, and cool. I decided to pack the golf bag with a complete set of foul weather gear, and we set out at 8:30 am with bags on our shoulders. Some of the holes at Cruden Bay are extremely hilly and the walk between the eighth green and the ninth tee is like climbing the Swiss Alps. The sun came out early in the round, and the temperature rose to 70 degrees. With 36 holes the previous day, the long drive, the Ugly Arms special treatment, and an unnecessary heavy golf bag, I was pooped by the end of the round.

After lunch at the club we drove 156 miles north to Dornoch, where Dan said goodbye. (He played 46 holes in drenching rain at Royal Dornoch from 5:30 pm to 10:47 pm and then drove to Glasgow where he hit the hay at 3 am.)  I drove to the nearby Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle for the night. The first thing I did upon arrival was to request laundry service because I was down to my last you know what.

In 1994 I was at Skibo before the official opening and ate dinner with just three other people in the main dining room at a long table that could easily have held 30 people. In 1995 I returned after the club was officially opened and ate at the same table with nine other people. In 1997 the bustle of activity throughout the entire complex was noticeable. Not only was the main dining table entirely occupied, but a side table holding ten was also full. What amazed me was the proliferation of young people (one American had his wife and four children ages 18 through 25 along). It was pleasing to see the realization of owner Peter de Savary’s hard work and dream.

Day 55  Play Royal Dornoch                                     Drive Dornoch/Loch Lomond

I was up at 5:30 am and on the first tee of the Royal Dornoch Golf Club (rated 13, designed by Morris 1886 and remodeled by Sutherland and then Duncan)(first played September 1986 and again July 1992/total 6 rounds). The weather was miserable — cold, windy, rainy. I played by myself and pulled a trolley.

After golf I had a long talk with the club secretary John Duncan and then another long talk with  Willie Skinner, head professional for 24 years. At dinner the previous night Allan Grant, Skibo golf secretary, had made arrangements for me to meet with two of the older Dornoch members who were knowledgeable about the course architecture, John Grant and Tommy McCulloch, and I had a very informative chat with them.

I returned to the Castle and had lunch with the club golf professional Willie Milne. We were going to play 18 holes on the Carnegie Links, but a two-hour-long downpour made that plan inoperative. Instead I started south on a 221-mile scenic drive and was exposed to high Scottish mountains and some beautiful lochs.

Royal Dornoch Golf Club, Scotland

Unfortunately, the trip was partially marred by overcast skies and frequent rain showers.

The long tour delivered me to the Lodge on Loch Lomond at 7 pm. At the reception area I was asked if I wished a dinner reservation. Giving an affirmative answer, I was told 9 pm was the first available time. Because the hotel restaurant also did business with non-hotel guests I asked why paying $130 for a room did not entitle me to a preferred time. Not receiving a satisfactory answer I went into the dining room and was pleased to find several empty tables. Pointing this out to the management of the hotel did immediately produce a table. However, in order to charge the meal to my room I had to surrender my room key to the maitre d’ until I signed the check after the meal. For all this aggravation  I received an average meal with average service.

Day 56  Play Loch Lomond                                                   Drive Loch Lomond/Ganton

I woke up at 6 am and threw open the curtains to find very dark skies, light rain, and strong winds. I met playing companion Colin Dalgleish (he runs the part of PerryGolf located in Scotland) at a little after 7 am outside the temporary clubhouse of Loch Lomond Golf Club (rated 44, designed by Weiskopf and Morrish 1994)(played two rounds July 1995). We were scheduled to have the first tee time at 7:30 am, but eight eager Americans were approaching the first tee. Luckily they permitted us to hit off first, and we sped around in two hours and 45 minutes carrying our own bags.

Even though the weather threatened all the way around and we wore rain gear, it hardly rained. The temperature remained in the 50’s, and on the exposed parts of the course the wind blew 25 mph. However, because many of the holes are sheltered by many tall and thick trees there was not a constant battle with the wind.

After a quick early lunch I spoke briefly with the head professional Colin Campbell (the day had been arranged by Michael Daswick of the Lyle Anderson Group in Arizona). Then Colin and I had an extensive tour of the impressive new clubhouse facilities by Keith Williams. Keith arrived at Loch Lomond in February 1997 to direct construction after having done the same thing with a multimillion-dollar expansion and modernization of Wentworth near London.

Then I drove 268 miles southeast to England (Yorkshire) and the small village of Ganton near the city of Scarborough. During the trip the skies continued ominous with occasional heavy showers. I arrived at the Ganton Greyhound at 5:30 pm in a heavy downpour. The chief Greyhound was the burly owner Terry Bennett. He showed me to a room overlooking the busy main road. I asked if there was something quieter and was strongly informed that all the rooms were taken. However, Terry did assure me the traffic noise would die down later in the evening. He was correct on that score, but he forgot to mention that my room was directly over the public bar. In Japan I was subjected to paper thin walls and now at the Greyhound I was resting on a paper thin floor. The noise level from the crowded bar increased with each passing hour, and I finally fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning.

Day 57  Play Ganton                                                              Drive Ganton/Lytham St. Annes

I was up at 6:30 am on a cold day with no heat in the room and no hot water. Breakfast service began at 8 am, but there was a sign saying “A continental breakfast may be taken earlier if requested the previous day.” You would have thought I was asking for the crown jewels when I inquired about receiving the continental breakfast.

At 8:15 am I was on the nearby first tee of the Ganton Golf Club (rated 67, designed by Dunn 1891 and remodeled by Vardon, Colt, Hutchinson, Fowler, Ray, Braid, Hilton, Cotton)(played September 1985) with a pickup member arranged by the friendly caddiemaster. It was 60 degrees, no wind, and misty. Light rain fell occasionally throughout the round.

Arrangements for this day had been made by the club secretary Major R.G. Woolsey, who had sent along several pages of course history before the trip started. After golf, the assistant club secretary Mrs. Jean Matthewman provided more written data and sandwiches. Then it took about three hours to drive the 138 miles due west across country from Ganton to Lytham St. Annes. At the Chadwick Hotel in St. Annes I had dinner with John Twissell (1985), who had made arrangements for golf the next day.

Day 58  Play Royal Lytham              Drive Lytham/Southport                    Play Royal Birkdale

At 7:15 am I arrived at Royal Lytham (rated 58, designed by Lowe 1886 and remodeled by Simpson, Fowler, Colt, Morrison, Cotton, Steel)(first played September 1985 and last played May 1989/total 3 rounds) and found John Twissell and our host Dr. Steven Reid. Steven was recently captain of the club, has written a course history of County Sligo (Rosses Point) in Ireland, and is very knowledgeable about the Lytham course history. Before play one of the crises of the trip had to be addressed. The wings on my collapsible long putter were constantly coming loose with tightening required. I bit the bullet and asked a nice young man in the pro shop to give the implement a sound tightening. He obliged, and the problem disappeared for the rest of the trip.

We teed off on that late June day with the sky partly sunny, the temperature in the high 50’s, and a wind of about 10 mph. Lytham is a true links course, but no body of water is anywhere in sight. Considerable discussion centered on how far away the water was that once covered the course. The answer is about 800 yards.

After the round and lunch in the main dining room I went to see the club secretary Lytton Goodwin  to ask him to call Royal Birkdale to see if I could play there that afternoon. I wanted to reshuffle the deck to take advantage of the good weather and also avoid the killing schedule I had set for the following day (a doubleheader of Birkdale and Liverpool plus a long drive to Woodhall Spa). The answer was affirmative.

I then drove 40 miles to Southport and found Royal Birkdale (rated 26, designed by Low 1889 and remodeled by Hawtree)(first played September 1985 and last played May 1989/total 3 rounds). The club secretary Norman Crewe was most cordial, and we had a long talk about the rebuilding of the Birkdale greens. At 5 pm I was out on the course by myself pulling a trolley. It was 55 degrees, partly sunny, and 20 mph. Play was somewhat slow on the front nine.

Royal Lytham Golf Club, courtesy of Russell Kirk/GOLFLINKS

On the tenth tee I was joined by host Gordon Jeffrey (1989), who was captain of the R&A in 1995. Gordon had arranged a foursome for the next morning but was understanding when I told him about wanting to accelerate the schedule. On the back nine Gordon acted as caddie by pulling my trolley. The early-evening shadows outlining the tremendous sand dunes at Birkdale were a bonus. Gordon then took me to dinner, where I was able to thank him and Birkdale for adapting smoothly to my new schedule. I was at the Scarisbrick Hotel by 10:30 pm.

Day 59  Drive Southport/Hoylake    Play Royal Liverpool     Drive Hoylake/Woodhall Spa

I was up at 6 am for a 33-mile drive south through the Liverpool tunnel and out to the town of Hoylake. At 8 am I met with Royal Liverpool (rated 82, designed by Morris and Chambers 1869 and remodeled by Colt and then Pennink)(first played September 1985 and last played May 1989/total 5 rounds) club secretary Group Captain Christopher Moore. Member John Behrend (1989) had made the initial introduction to the club on my behalf. At 9 am I was on the first tee with member Dr. John Graham, who is a good friend of Lytton Goodwin. The weather was 45 degrees, partly sunny, and 15 to 20 mph. On the downwind 374-yard par-4 second hole came the shot of the trip. After I hit a 9-iron second shot, neither John nor I could see where the ball finished up because a bunker lip hid part of the green. When we arrived at the green the ball was nowhere in sight, so I looked in the cup and there it was — eagle two!

After lunch with John I drove 198 miles south and east to the village of Woodhall Spa. This is not an easy place to get to, and I was grateful not to have had to do the navigating in the dark as called for by the original schedule. At the Golf Hotel an average dinner was presented, but the sleep was restful.

Day 60  Play Woodhall Spa                                                        Drive Woodhall Spa/Ascot

After a 7:20 am continental breakfast I drove about 500 yards to the entrance of the Woodhall Spa Golf Club (rated 29, designed by Hotchkin and Hutchinson 1926)(played two rounds September 1985) clubhouse and was greeted by manager Ben Fawcett. He offered a caddie, but I said playing alone was preferrable. At 8 am I set off in full foul-weather gear pulling a trolley in 55 degrees with no wind, and light rain. This is a heavily tree-lined course, and after each of the first 12 holes I was able to huddle under a few of them to write my notes with a ball-point pen. A felt-tip pen does not work if the least bit of moisture is present. Fortunately, I had one ball-point pen with me.

Rain poured down heavily during the last six holes, so the umbrella came out and I wrote my notes while juggling the umbrella in a steady breeze. Coming down the eighteenth hole I was moving very slowly and felt about as tired as at any time during the trip.

A quick change had me looking presentable for a long discussion and an enjoyable lunch with the club president Neil Hotchkin. He had inherited the club and the surrounding land 40 years before and had recently sold the club to the English Golf Union (EGU) to be used as its national training center for amateur golfers. Neil has been active in the EGU for many years.

The route out of Woodhall Spa is not any easier than the route in. After 11 different junctions and 4 hours (178 miles) in pouring rain and medium-to-heavy traffic I arrived on the western outskirts of London and the Cottage Inn in Maidens Green. There I was informed that my reservation was not reconfirmed and therefore no room was available. They then arranged for a room in the next town, and I maneuvered my way to Ascot Place, a bed and breakfast just across the street from the Ascot race course. Unfortunately, there was a dog in the house with a loud bark that was in evidence until midnight.

An excellent “bar” meal was enjoyed at the nearby Rose & Crown in Windsor. The service was superior, and there was no pretense of seeking a tip.


About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. You can find him on Google+