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Turnberry Memories

The British Open – er, I’m sorry, THE Open – and a select number of other events occasion holidays at Roger Ruhl Marketing Communications. 


The 2009 Open was at Turnberry, a Greenbriar-like resort on the western coast of Scotland across from Ireland.  Eight buddies and I spent a week in Scotland in August 2000.  We played six rounds of golf, and two were at Turnberry.  The memories remain vivid. 


We had traveled six hours in steady rain in our private motorcoach from Dornoch in the north to make our scheduled late afternoon tee time.  The rain continued off and on throughout the round, but it couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm for the setting and the opportunity to play one of golf’s legendary courses.


Everything that was advertised was there.  A great links course bordering the water.  Rain, and then more rain.  The 1837 lighthouse on Number 9.  The remnants of the airfield used by Allied pilots during World War II to the left of Number 12's fairway.  And of course, the Ailsa Craig, that monstrous rock in the Firth of Clyde.


I shot 93 the first day in tough rains and 89 the following day when sun actually appeared.  My most memorable moment at Turnberry was also one of my favorite memories of the trip. 


As was the case at each course we played, we had “veteran” caddies to guide us around the course.  The tariff was steep by our U.S. standards – about $60.  But the dollars were well spent.  The job was not a summertime gig or the opportunity to pick up a few bucks.  This was their day job. 


It was hard to guess my caddie’s age and I didn’t ask.  His weathered face probably added a couple years to his appearance.  He was small, lean and your prototypical Scottish caddie.  He picked up my bag like it contained feathers and down the first fairway we headed.  Scottish caddies, we had learned, spent the first couple holes sizing up the golfers in the group, and then they made wagers among themselves.  I presumed this was going on in this round.


Now, my memorable moment.  On the Number 4 tee, a 165-yard Par-3, I reached into my bag for my 6-iron.  Suddenly, I felt the clasp of a strong hand on top of my hand.  I could not extract the 6-iron from the bag.  My caddy, who spoke few words during the round and all with a heavy Scottish accent that made him difficult to understand, spoke with authority, “No laddie, you can’t get there with a 6-iron … hit the 5.”  I was tempted hit the 6-iron and swing like there was no tomorrow, but common sense prevailed.  I hit the 5-iron and made birdie.


Another similar instance occurred later in the trip at Western Gailes to the north of Turnberry.  I was about 40 yards off the green and pulled out my sand wedge, picturing a lofted shot landing near the flagstick.  My caddie strongly suggested another approach … an 8-iron pitch and run that would land at a spot he pointed out about 20 yards short of the green.  I was a bit skeptical, but opted for my caddie’s local knowledge.  I hit the shot as he prescribed, it kicked sharply to the left, rolled down a slope and settled near the hole.


Good memories.


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