From 1971 to 1983, my parents brought me on five or six trips to Europe in an attempt to expose me to other lands and different cultures.
In 1975, we visited Scotland, and were in the town of Carnoustie. Tom Watson won the claret jug at Carnoustie Golf Links that year, and my Dad and I actually played the famous course while on our journey. I was 14 years of age, and was at the stage where you measured yourself against your buddie’s 9-hole scores during beginner’s summer camp. Breaking 60 was a badge of honor. In short, my level of preparation for taking on Carnoustie was excellent.
What’s cool about playing Open Championship rota courses is that the general public can get a tee time on several of the venues. I think it was probably easier back then because there were no on-line bookings. Either show up or call. Now, this was 43 years ago and I was young and have just a few memories of the round. I do recall it was not planned; we just showed up and got off. We played with rented clubs in old canvas bags. The course had a lot of tall brown fescue and sand. My Dad and I played as a twosome and were followed by four elderly ladies who admonished us at one point for playing too slow. My Dad usually played in the high 90s and was actually having a good game considering the difficulty level and our unfamiliarity with the course. He shot something like a 94. Even though I had been to golf camp, I was still a beginner and couldn’t control my golf ball. I played awful and shot a 125 and nearly took another player’s head off with a hosel rocket. I remember being pressured to play faster by the ladies and my Dad apologizing. I remember topping a lot of shots, but not feeling embarrassed. The same was probably not the case for my Dad.
I don’t remember watching Watson’s victory on television that year, but do remember Paul Lawrie’s win (Jean van de Velde’s implosion) in 1999, and of course today’s recently concluded championship. In none of the telecasts, do I recall any of the holes first hand.
So the question I’ll leave you with is: Can you shoot 125 at Carnoustie and say you actually played the course?