>I’m the kind of golfer for whom the history and literary aspects of the game is a significant factor in my enjoyment of the game. I love the fact that it’s been around longer than this country has, and I thoroughly enjoy the many different angles that golf writers have taken to approach this truly multi-faceted game.
Having said that, Scotland’s where it’s at. I’ve studies the links thoroughly, both from a historical and competitive point of view as well as how they came about and what it’s like to play them. But Scotland is a long ways away, and I don’t truly know when and if I’ll ever get a chance to walk those hallowed fairways. In the short term, I spoiled myself and played a round at Royal Links when I was in Vegas last month.
And let me tell you this: For all of you who love Scottish golf, the people at the Royal Links REALLY love Scottish golf. There’s a castle for a clubhouse. There’s a Claret Jug as you pull in. There’s a statue of Old Tom Morris. There’s a sand trap called “Hell”. There are copies of 18 of the best golf holes Scotland has to offer. There are 75 degree temperatures in October. Allright, so maybe they’re skimping on some of the climatic realism, but I’m fully in favor of that.
Few objects on any golf course anywhere is as famous as the Swilcan Bridge, which players cross on the 18:th hole at St. Andrews. No golf fan can forget Jack’s sentimental goodbye on his last round there in 2005 (see insert in bottom right). When I shared this picture with my dad in Sweden he promptly sent me a picture of him on that bridge when he played St. Andrews in 1996 (see insert in top left).
They take it a bit far when the tees are not red and blue but claret and royal. If I were to say that Royal Links is the Medieval Times of golf, I mean that in the nicest possible way.
But I heartily encourage you to see past what might appear to be glitchy gimmicks, because the course is truly fantastic. By all accounts, the holes are fairly authentic copies of some of the great holes we watch on the British Open every summer, from St. Andrews and Troon to Carnoustie and Turnberry.
The course is in great shape, the greens putt true, and it’s a quite challenging Par 72 layout. The course record is 67, and is held by none other than Tiger Woods back in 2001.
So while I still hope for the day when I will tee it up in the true home of golf, this round did allow me to enjoy some of the good, bad, and ugly aspects of links golf.
I stuck an 8-iron to the middle of the Postage Stamp hole for an easy two-putt par. I weighed risk and reward to determine how much of the corner to cut off on the Road Hole. I got the kind of lie in a bunker where the only shot that was anatomically possible was straight backwards, and I felt lucky I had that option at all. I left a lot of shots in the deep bunkers, and lost several balls in surprising places, and was lucky to break 100. All in all it was a fantastic outing, and one I would recommend to any golfer, particularly those of you who share my fascination with the Scottish variation of the game. The only thing I would have liked to see is a copy of the 18:th hole at Carnoustie, but that’s being really nit-picky.