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Jordan Beasley

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Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« on: December 31, 2022, 12:35:14 PM »
A fun one for the holiday weekend. For those with a privileged golf birthright (e.g. GB&I) this might be a childhood memory.  But many of us did not play a true links course until well into adulthood.  I'd love to hear your stories; here is mine:

When/Where/Age: Silloth on Solway, June 2016.  I was 31.

How did it come to be: I had recently moved to London from California, and had arranged a golf trip to St. Andrews with a friend from the States, one from Australia, and one from the UK. We were looking for a course to play along the drive up to Scotland. I picked Silloth based on Tom Doak saying in the confidential guide that it was a near-miss for the "Gourmet's Choice" in the front of the book.

Memories: I had never seen or heard of a "browned-out," "firm and fast" golf course, and was both disappointed and puzzled by the lack of green in the fairways. I chalked it up to "poor conditioning."  I'm also fairly sure I had never hit a blind approach shot from the middle of the fairway, and Silloth hit me with one of those right away on #1.  I was amazed by the steep drop-off's to either side of the fourth green, but rather than appreciating how cool they were, I was annoyed at the difficulty of the chip shot.  The par-5 on the back nine with the steep hogsback green was an indelible memory. And maybe more than anything else, I was stunned at how much the ball rolled in the fairways.  I remember watching in horror on multiple holes as a tee shot landing in the fairway bounced and rolled and ambled into the rough or gorse.

It was definitely "amateur hour at the rodeo!"  In the years since I've come to view links golf as the best golf, but during my first experience I was definitely too confused/frustrated/thwarted to appreciate how cool Silloth is.

Ira Fishman

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2022, 01:17:32 PM »
Waterville in 2013. I was 54 years old. I was the last minute substitute in a group of eight for the guy who organized the trip but unfortunately broke his foot. I knew only one of the other seven guys. It was an unusually warm and dry spell so the course was brown, fast, and firm. I loved every minute especially as the routing worked its way into the dunes.

On the ride back to Killarney, the conversation naturally turned to how we liked the course. We had played Old Head the day before. Six of the eight said that they much preferred Old Head because it was green. That made me even more partial to links. We finished the classic American swing with Ballybunion Old, Doonbeg, and Lahinch. Playing Lahinch late afternoon remains one of the most magical experiences I have enjoyed on a golf course.

Fast forward to 2016 and this time I am in Ireland with my wife who has never played a links course. I thought that she would enjoy it, but you never know. We played Dooks, Waterville, and The Island Club. The fact that 2023 will be our third trip to Scotland and 2024 our second trip to Ireland (to play Lahinch one more time while I can) evidences that she too loves links golf.


Ally Mcintosh

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2022, 01:33:21 PM »
There have been a couple of years where I haven’t played a single round of golf away from the links…. I play far and away my most golf on the links, even excluding the rounds on my home course.

First ever links round was probably when I was seven years old on Royal Aberdeen Ladies course.


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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2022, 01:53:41 PM »
    The Old Course. August,1974. Honeymoon. 36/49. Windy. Wife didn't play golf. Returned 10 years later. 39/42. Less windy. Wife now a 14 hdkp. 44/47.

Stewart Abramson

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2022, 02:08:39 PM »
My first links experience was a trip to Ayr in 2007. I had been playing golf about 15 years  at the time. I drove to Glasgow Gailes straight from the Prestwick airport and had a lovely game with 3 very welcoming members. The rest of the trip included Western Gailes, Dundonald, Troon, Prestwick, and both Turnberry courses. It was a great introduction to links. I've returned to either the UK or Eire every other year since except during the pandemic to play a wide range of links. I've often found it hard to explain the lure of the links to many  of my American friends who are parklandophiles

Thomas Dai

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2022, 04:11:13 PM »
Ignoring seaside pitch-n-putts, which I started to play aged 5-6, then it would be Saunton East aged 12 playing with my father with my non-golfer grandfather walking along with us. Special day. Didn’t go back for many decades but could still remember quite a bit of it when I did especially the par-4 16th which as a short hitting young junior I recall seemed to go on bending left forever.
Took my elder son for his first taste of links golf when he was 12, played Perranporth, which he still remembers to this day.
Both of us have been links junkies ever since our links course baptisms.
Great times and great memories.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2022, 04:25:17 PM by Thomas Dai »

Tal Oz

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2022, 04:21:56 PM »
4th of July, 2018
Age 29
Course: Royal Cinque Ports

On a mega browned out Deal I drove out with the friend I was staying with and on the first tee I snap hooked a hybrid into the car park and hit the secretary's window! Sheepishly had to walk into the pro shop to pickup a scorecard afterwards as well. Thankfully I played some better golf after this.

Tommy Williamsen

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2022, 07:26:17 PM »
On the 20th anniversary of my ordination my congregation gave my wife and me a three week trip to Ireland and Scotland. We played 22 different links courses. We began and ended at Ballybunion. I had set up the courses but we winged the B&Bs. Planning was difficult because it was all done my paper letters. I was smitten after the first round, as was my wife. It took a couple of rounds though for her to out from off the green rather than hit pw. I fell in love with the Irish and have been back 30 times. I’ve played over 80 courses there of all stripes. I have played The European club 50 times and love everything about it. I also fell in love with England and joined Westward Ho! and Saunton. I haven’t been since 2019 and miss it in my bones.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2022, 07:27:51 PM by Tommy Williamsen »
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

"Deep within your soul-space is a magnificent cathedral where you are sweet beyond telling." Rumi

Rob Marshall

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2022, 09:59:28 PM »
July 2013, hit a tee shot off the first tee at  Ballybunion down the middle of the fairway. Look around where I thought my ball would be and can’t find it. Walk over to a fairway bunker that was no where near what I thought was my flight. There’s my ball stuck in fescue half way down into the bunker in just a nasty lie two feet below my feet. I turned to my two buddies and said “welcome to F——ing links golf!”
"I used to get pissed at blowing leads until I quit having them" John Kavanaugh

Ronald Montesano

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2022, 10:00:24 PM »
Well, there was this fiery redhead, who bet me that I couldn't scale the dune quicker than she ...
Maybe for 2022
~Eden Valley
~Pinehurst (NY)
~Kis 'N Greens
~Pine Meadows
~18 Mile Creek


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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2022, 10:49:34 PM »

What a good query , thanks Jordan and Happy New Year to all.  Ronnie stop bragging though I love the memory!

so the real deal was my first trip to Ireland when I played of all places Portrush as my first . Hard to beat that and spoiled for the rest of the trip though we did play RCD and Portstewart, great spots of course. Will never forget turning left from the 4th green and seeing that tee shot on #5 at Portrush , wow !

But let me digress , as  a young golfer in South Jersey (NJ that is)  I played Brigantine Links and while the conditions weren't firm and fast the winds howled. We also played Freeway Golf Club , about ten minutes from Pine Valley , where the conditions were exactly what I wanted at Twisted Dune ! It rolled out beyond what you would ever believe there , probably because they only watered the greens and tees to save money. It was way more fun than we realized at the time , and the antithesis of where we caddied every day where high , soft floaters were de rigueur.  You had to sometimes throttle way back to play it well , so fun!

Again , God Bless all and thanks for sharing . Keep playing and spreading the word ....cheers


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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2023, 03:14:20 PM »
I prefer to relate how I introduced my son to links golf.  He was a high school golfer.  My brother and nephew (also a high school golfer) arranged to meet us in London where my brother had a business meeting and then travel to Scotland for a 10 day trip.  I spent 2 days walking my son's legs off in London and then we flew to Edinburgh.  After the flight and drive to the Old Course Hotel, I had one very tired teen ager on my hands.  Upon entering our room he deposited himself on his bed ready for a long rest.  I opened the drapery and was greeted with "Is that the Road Hole?".  He was immediately energized and we grabbed the other 2, walked down the 17th, crossed the Swilcan Bridge and then into town. The rest of the trip saw us playing courses ranging from the Old Course to Carnoustie to Prestwick etc. etc.  Our boys learned about links golf and the trip confirmed the magic of golf as a bonding experience between generations. Most of all, I will always remember the look on my son's face and the wonder in his voice when he first realized where we were.

Ian Andrew

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2023, 03:51:51 PM »
1989 at Royal Troon with my father
Weather 30+ mph and rain (the entire round)
Out into the face of the wind and rain
Took a caddy.

Met Montgomerie's Dad in the clubhouse. Only players that morning.
Asked if we could get tea ... "of course"
Asked if we could wait out the squall ... "not if you plan to make your tee time"
Caddy was fabulous (Stanley).
We're starting to behave as if we've reached the end of human knowledge. And while that notion is undoubtedly false, the certitude it generates is paralyzing.” — Chuck Klosterman, But What If We're Wrong

Steve Lang

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2023, 10:35:59 AM »
 8)  Linksy bouncy ground game entertainment, Late summer 1961, Ottawa Park, Toledo, 9 yr old... my mom took me out to play Ottawa Park, which was next to our apartment complex, Kenwood Gardens, which that year was more brown than green due to hard baked clay soil and not a lot of rain or watering.  Learned the "weed tee rule" and you can hit a putter pretty far...

My first true Links experience was memorably Sept 1996, at TOC, 44 yr old, with Ms Sheila, we got on via first try of lottery after immediately stepping on UK soil at airport and eventually ended up letting a NY & a NJ guy join us on a beautiful sunny fall day, their caddies helping me more than them...  stayed left all day, three putted both par 5's, but it added up to a tidy 77.  Will never forget being called Laaadddy... :D

My first "inland links" experience was also Sept 1896 at Ganton, much more adventurous ground game and gorse management was had there! 
Inverness (Toledo, OH) cathedral clock inscription: "God measures men by what they are. Not what they in wealth possess.  That vibrant message chimes afar.
The voice of Inverness"

James Reader

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2023, 12:29:29 PM »
Seacroft for me, the nearest links to my home in Mansfield, early 1986, as soon as one of my golfing mates passed his test and could drive us there.

It might be a bit strong to say it was absolutely love at first sight - my main memory is of just how bad the weather was - but a trip to Fife a year later sealed the deal for me.

Last year I was lucky enough to play over 50 rounds on 30 different links course and Formby Ladies a few weeks ago was my 100th overall.  Here’s to many more!


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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2023, 01:31:45 PM »
May 17, 2017 at Royal Dornoch, with a member. Tough to beat that experience. Brilliant course, perfect spot in Scotland, and benefitting from a knowledgeable member.

30 links courses later, my one advice for a first experience would be, choose a club vs a resort, and try to play with a member. (Thanks DT).

Carl Johnson

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2023, 11:50:39 PM »
First trip to Scotland circa 2000.  Four of us flew from the States to Edinburgh overnight and were picked up by our arranged driver to take us to St. Andrews.  On the way we went though Elie and the driver asked if we wanted to stop and play The Golf House Club.  We said we did, and we did.  That was my unplanned introduction.  A hard rain had just stopped, it was about 4:00 pm, and except for us and maybe another golfer or two, the course was empty.  A unique feature of Elie is the periscope the starter uses to look over the abrupt hill in front of the first tee to make sure the way is clear.  From the Club's website: "The periscope was salvaged from HMS Excalibur in 1966 and was presented to the club by member Gavin Reekie."
« Last Edit: January 02, 2023, 11:53:53 PM by Carl Johnson »

Enno Gerdes

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2023, 02:22:24 AM »
I had played a few links-ish courses in the Netherlands and Germany before, but my first "real" links course was Hoylake in May 2018. It was also my first experience of taking public transport to within walking distance of a major golf club. The whole thing was a great experience, but I stopped keeping score after hitting, if I recall correctly, 8 pot bunkers on the first 6 holes. Let's just say I learned a lot about bunker placement that day.


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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2023, 04:09:31 AM »
My links journey wasn't purposeful until after a good few trips to the UK. The first was Troon, summer 1991. I don't recall why Troon was the first links. I think I was in the area for wedding or something. It was a one and done trip up there. I enjoyed it as a learning experience, but wasn't bowled over by the course or the visitor set up. Other early links hits were Hoylake, Saunton, Birkdale and Burnham and Berrow. In the early years of coming to England every summer I concentrated more on heathland courses and others I could reach by day trips in the Midlands. Blackwell was close so it became became a favourite. Sandwell Park was also on replay status. I had played most of the great heathlands before going back to Scotland. Except for Troon, other people took me to links in the very early days. I was just along for the ride except on weekend getaways mainly to Devon and Cornwall. St Enodoc, West Cornwall, Westward Ho! were on heavy replay with Burnham and Saunton. I also used to play Hayling a load because it was fairly close to my brother in laws place. I haven't been back in years. I also played a lot of early links in Wales because it was easy to pop over for a night or two. I explored many clubs with an eye to join... that's when I set on Pennard...

« Last Edit: January 03, 2023, 06:27:13 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood & Ladybank


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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #19 on: January 03, 2023, 06:11:37 AM »
Burnham & Berrow took mine at the scandalously young age of 11!

Most of our family lived in Somerset and during Easter holidays in 1981 my Mum dropped me off at Burnham in the morning with my flask of coffee in an 'Empire Strikes Back' thermos flask, a Spam and Branston sandwich and obligatory Mars Bar. I was left to my own devices until teatime when she picked me up.

I wasn't a member at Burnham, so think about that for a moment. I was an 11-year old kid, playing as a visitor on my own, on a championship links course, with no idea where to go. It was brilliant!

Always had a fondness for Burnham partly because they were so welcoming of a young kid out for an adventure. On repeat visits, older Members would join up with me to show me the way around. It was always a friendly place to go.
Best of '22: Al Mouj; Cleeve, Painswick, Minch Old, Silloth, Balfron, Archerfield, Roxburghe, Stoneham, Woburn Marquess, JCB, Hayling, Wentworth (East), East Sussex West, Dunes, Arcadia Bluffs South, Crystal Downs, The Loop, Shoreacres, Chicago, St. Patrick's, Rosapenna Sandy Hills & Old Tom Morris

Colin Sheehan

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #20 on: January 03, 2023, 08:21:41 AM »
In late June of 1989, on a week-long family trip to Ireland shortly after the end of middle school, we stopped in at Ballybunion and it would have required renting clubs for my father and I while mom and little sis would have had to hang around. I remember it required waiting a few hours and between the cost of green fees and rentals and having to buy gloves, balls and not having shoes, it just wasn't lining up. Alas, we passed, but I will never forget the glorious view of the epic linksland from the clubhouse pad!

Fast forward nearly seven years, March of 1996, quadrennial Yale golf team overseas trip. We landed in London, piled into a van that Coach Paterson drove like Mario Andretti to Sandwich as we all nodded off. He pulled in front of the clubhouse and we waited in the van as he got out and talked with someone official-looking in a beautiful tweed jacket. Coach got back into the van and drove us along service paths through the course to the 10th tee where he parked and we climbed out, changed and went out with a cold start in a series of two-ball "singles." And it was love of links at first sight! Not just the entire round but especially that tenth hole. I couldn't have known it was one of the greatest holes in England and one of the few, notable perched/crowned greens in links golf.

The next day was a proper 36-hole day at deal with morning and afternoon foursomes with the big lunch and toasts to the queen and president. Each was a striking memorable day.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2023, 11:32:08 AM by Colin Sheehan »

Brad Tufts

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #21 on: January 03, 2023, 08:49:45 AM »
This was July of 99 when I was HS grad present was a long-awaited trip to Scotland for a week with my dad and two of his friends.  We played Turnberry first, and it was tough not to fall in love right away.

This 6-capper (at the time) shot an 85 to my 12-capper father's 83, one of the last times he'd ever beat me gross.  I learned quickly that stroke play meant little, nor did the carry distance to the was all about getting the ball in the hole by any means necessary, something that informs my game in the US to this day.

I look at links golf as a vastly different animal than the parkland golf we play here in the Northeast US.  Here I feel like my score and round are a bit more closely-related to how I'm hitting the ball, and links golf is more of a question of attitude...both types of play are challenging in their own way, but links golf feels like the more pure form.  I hope to remedy someday the fact that links golf for me only happens every 3-4 years.
So I jump ship in Hong Kong....

Duncan Cheslett

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #22 on: January 03, 2023, 10:39:49 AM »
My grandparents retired to Lytham St Annes when I was a youngster, and my summer holidays were spent at their bungalow a seven iron away from the Royal Lytham clubhouse.

Grandad was a golfer and was a member at a rather dull parkland course in Lytham, but my earliest golfing experiences were at the 18 hole pitch and putt course on the St Annes seafront. I’d have been around six years old and we played there often.

I returned in my fifties with my own teenage son and was delighted to find the course still there and exactly as I remembered it. Even better was the realisation that this humble pitch and putt is 100% links!

So in answer to the question, I lost my links virginity as a young lad in around 1966!😎

« Last Edit: January 03, 2023, 02:25:30 PM by Duncan Cheslett »

Jim Sherma

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #23 on: January 03, 2023, 12:32:14 PM »
This took place in November of 2000 and I have great memories of the latter two rounds I played on the trip. A friend of my wife got married to an Irish guy in Midleton, IE (just east of Cork City) and we went making a 10 day excursion. I took my clubs but it was most definitely not a golf trip. I still managed to play three rounds there. The first was Water Rock GC in Midleton with some of the wedding party. Pretty basic inland course that got some swings under the belt after the flight and a few days wending from Dublin to Midleton, but definitely not what you go out of your way for. The next round was at Fotah Island GC (I believe that is now known as the Deerpark Course - at the time it was the only course there - Cork GC had an event otherwise I would've played there). I really liked Fotah Island and had a great round playing with an employee who was a local high school player. He was going to be playing college golf the next year in the states and great company. Fotah Island was a very enjoyable course and probably worthy of more notice than it gets. Certainly not a links but seemed to be uniquely Irish in some discernable way as opposed to an American course that happened to be built there.

After the Fotah Island round we needed to get back to Dublin and worked our way around the southeastern part of the coast. Looking at our maps I saw a course located right on the coast that looked promising and it turned out to be Rosslare GL. This was before I had found and had done no prior research into this part of the country. The one window I had for a round ended up having some of the most brutal weather I have ever experienced on a golf course. I kept the newspaper clipping from the day and the forecast was as follows:

"It will become extremely windy. South to Southeast winds increasing to gale force, veering southwesterly and later west to northwest, gusts between 60 and 80mph. Heavy rain for a time, easing to showers later. Highs 8 to 11C."

I saw on the tv that there was a window with little to no rain expected and I left the wife in Wexford and drove out to the course in the rain. Got there right as it was letting up and the wind was starting to get strong. There was one other group that had teed off and I passed them on the second tee playing by myself - never saw them again so I don't believe they stayed out for long. After the second hole tacked back against the wind 3-8 were primarily downwind a little from the right and the going was fun and pretty easy. Once turned around back into the wind it became surreal. The 8th was 167yds and I remember hitting a good low driver and not getting within 15 yards of the green. 8-13 were all back into the wind and all I hit were drivers, 2-irons and bump chips while leaning far forward walking right into the teeth of it. The only hole that really was cross-wind was the par-3 14th that turned left toward the ocean. The wind was right to left 150yds and I remember playing about 45 degrees right of the green. On the 16th hole the skies opened up and after teeing off on 17 and getting to my ball I headed over to the 18th fairway and played in from there. Got back to the pro shop and the two guys were just laughing that I would be out there at all.

Truly a memorable and great experience. After I got my stuff loaded into the car I went back into town to find the wife and we drove in the rain up towards Dublin as our trip was winding down.

Since this first trip I've been back for golf trips to Ireland 3 more times and Scotland once. I've played courses both well known and expensive (TOC, Kingsbarnes, Ballybunnion, Carnoustie) and less known and less expensive (North West, Greencastle, Mulranney, Crail Balcomie, Ballyreagh). Links golf is the best and I'm looking forward to my next trip, hopefully in 2024, if not then definitely 2025. 

Kevin Pallier

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Re: Tell me how you lost your "links golf virginity"
« Reply #24 on: January 03, 2023, 07:17:40 PM »
The Old Course ~ 1999
How did it come to be ~ coming from Australia I had never played a links course before. I was single at the time and had always wanted to travel to GB & I to play golf. I had watched the Open many times on TV and had always wanted to experience TOC. I planned the trip by faxing and they booked me two games the Old and New. After landing in London I hired a car and ventured my way up to Scotland via the Lakes District. I had a game at Windemere a delightful little course a few days before and rolled my ankle in a rabbit hole walking through the rough on the 1st hole. I thought I'd dashed my lifelong dream on playing TOC! Luckily it was not as bad as I first thought and after icing it came good.
Memories ~ I will never forget driving into the town of St Andrews for the first time. It was virtually a religious experience. You get a little glimpse of the courses driving in. I drove straight to the little road behind the Road Hole and sat there for what seemed an hour looking over it and the course.
I played the next day with a group of Americans who were nice guys but did not get links golf. They tried to hit everything aerial into the greens. Having watched the Open for years on TV I knew the bump and run was the best approach. I played well and birdied 9, drove 10 and 3 putted and went over the back on 11 and took double.
It was a fantastic experience and I believe ever golfer should try to experience St Andrews at least once in their lifetime.


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