Living the Dream
I will be forever grateful to my Dad for the introduction to the game of golf. I am acutely aware that having the opportunity to play golf is both a blessing and a privilege afforded to only a small minority of people on this planet. To be able to compete on some of the best links land on the planet is an even rarer privilege. At 47 years of age, the game keeps on giving and “touch wood” will continue to do so for years to come. Dreams can come through not just for me but also for any of you looking for a bucket list trip to the UK or Ireland. As suggested before, it feels very strange to be writing in the first person about my own experiences, however, several clients have suggested I keep you guys updated on my own travels, so this is the purpose of the blog.
Having enjoyed playing competitive golf at championship links all my life, I decided to tee it up at Open Qualifying the last two years. Much to my surprise, I managed to get through Regional Qualifying with an all too rare sub-70 round at the beautifully presented County Louth on Monday, June 24. This famous old Championship links was sparkling on the day and I would highly recommend a visit there to any of our guests looking at an East of Ireland Itinerary Despite a strong effort to destroy a good round on the difficult par 5 eighteenth, I gained one of the coveted spots to go play in Final Qualifying for The Open Championship at The Fairmont St. Andrews
Having visited and played golf in St Andrews on many occasions, it was unusual that I had not played the Torrance or Kittocks course at the Fairmont prior to this visit. Most of our guests look to play at some of the Traditional links but I must confess that if I had realised how good these courses are I would have recommended a visit here long before now. The dreams were still intact when arriving at The Fairmont on Sunday, June 30.
It is with much embarrassment, as a tour operator that I report I was late for my tee-time on Tuesday morning resulting in a two-shot penalty before even teeing off. In 30 years of playing competitive golf, I chose the day that my dreams can come through, to get my time wrong. Despite this setback, I decided it was such a long shot for a weekend golfer like “yours truly” to make it through to The Open, that I was going to enjoy the day anyway. I decided I would forget about the two-shot penalty and count the number of shots I actually played to see how far I would realistically be away from qualifying. Starting on the most difficult hole on the course, the par four 10th (17 on the Kittocks course), the penalty seemed to help in that it relaxed me. A good drive and four iron to fifteen feet and two putts for a par (six with the penalty) was a good start. Indeed my playing partners both made doubles here and one playing partner made a 10 in the afternoon. A birdie on the 11th and 14th kept the dream clinging by a thread, but a double-bogey 6 on number 15 where my ball lay against the face of a notorious pot bunker snapped me out of dreamland. Birdies and 1 and 5 revived the dream for a while before needless bogies at 6 and 9 resulted in a round where I had taken 70 blows but signed for 72 due to my own mistake of arriving late on the tee.
At lunchtime, my caddie (Connell) and I dared to dream that the round of a lifetime of 64 in the afternoon would see us through. As it transpired this was what was required but alas it was not to be. Level par through 11 in the afternoon having been close with several good birdie chances meant the dream was slipping away. A bogey 5 on the difficult par four 12th really took the wind from my sails. The first wayward drive of the day followed on 14 and it cost me a double-bogey 7. It felt like a very long walk from there to the clubhouse and bogies followed on 17 and 18. I signed for a total of 147 (having played 145 shots). 136 qualified for The Open. In my head, my golf was nine shots outside qualifying for The Open. Like all golfers, I can count back and say I was unlucky here and there and can actually see where those can be made up. Most likely delusional but it’s encouragement enough to make me believe my dream can come through next year!
Dreams can come through for you too! If you want assistance with building your dream trip to play at some of these fantastic venues, check out our sample itineraries here