Saturday, 12 September 2009

How it all began

I'm 59 now and have been hooked on golf since I my early years. My first memories are of the putting green at Largs, as a very young boy. We were only on holiday there, from a small tenement flat in Glasgow, but I'd spend hours, trying to beat my best score. Much later, I graduated to pitch and putt at Queen's Park and Rouken Glen in Glasgow. both public parks. There were golf clubs near to where I lived (Cowglen and Pollok), but football was the only real sports outlet at school in those days. Golf was for folk with more money than we had, though ironically, I remember an old leather golf bag and hickory clubs living in a store cupboard in our house. My Dad never played, so I've no real idea where they came from. Perhaps they were his father's, making them pretty old. I used to play with them with no real idea what golf was about and I can still remember their shapes and the way the grips were too big for my small hands. One of those old clubs had a leather grip which would come loose and needed occasional renailing. Wierd the things you remember. Must have been 50 or more years ago.
My first full game of golf was a public course at Alexandra Park in Glasgow. I was 17 (in 1967) and a first year student. I'd dodged an accountancy lecture and that was me, hooked. Years later, I'd join Lothianburn Golf Club in Edinburgh and realise that I liked playing new courses and trying to work out what the architect wanted me to try to do in the test he'd set. We had a golfing society at work, which meant that we'd play outings at various courses around Central Scotland, but I was always keen to go further, to try elsewhere, to find out for myself what lay behind the golf flag symbol on the map.
Now, 40 years or so after my first thrashing around at Alexandra Park, I'm approaching retirement and thinking about what to do next. Having played what seems to be hundreds of different courses already in Scotland, Ireland and elsewhere, I've been inspired by the thought of playing all of the courses in Scotland. I don't plan to start from the beginning or keep meticulous records. My aim is only to know that I've played all of the courses in Scotland, so in this blog to relate some of the tales, experiences and incidents that will arise on my journey. I'll list the courses I've already played and as my journey progresses put down some thoughts about the friends I've met - there are no strangers on a golf course, just friends you've never met, with which you have much in common - the frustrations, laughs, missed putts, heroic pars, shanks and wonder shots that combine to make a round of golf (for me at least) such an adventure and constant pleasure.
I've also been inspired by Tom Coyne's marvellous book "A Course Called Ireland." To anyone with a love of golf, read it and try to stop wishing you had the strength, commitment and stamina to do as Tom did, walking the Irish coastline, playing all of the courses he came across. A remarkable book and a remarkable achievement.
As this blog progresses, I plan to cover my own journey around Scotland and write about my experiences, good and bad. It would be tempting to try to give each of the courses a personal rating, based on some pretty wide ranging criteria. On reflection, I don't intend to do that, as I don't think that it would be entirely fair to judge a course and the club attached to it on the basis of one visit. Where praise is due, I'll give it, but I'm always mindful that however basic a club, and however well or poorly it is maintained, golfers like me call it their home course and are proud of it. I will confine myself to commenting on whether I would happlily return or play a particular course again and let you draw your own conclusions. The last thing I'd want to do is criticise unfairly what others who play this great game call their home and as such know more than I ever will about its history and unique attractions.


These are the 225 courses that I've played so far, by area in Scotland -

The South West
1 Brodick
2 Dumfries and County
3 Glasgow Gailes
4 Oban Glencruitten
5 Inveraray
6 Lamlash
7 Largs
8 The Machrie
9 Machrie Bay
10 Machrihanish
11 Moffat
12 Portpatrick Dunskey
13 Powfoot
14 Prestwick St Nicholas
15 Royal Troon Portland
16 Shiskine
17 Southerness
18 Thornhill
19 Tobermory
20 Turnberry Kintyre
21 West Kilbride
22 Western Gailes
23 Whiting Bay

The Highlands
24 Boat of Garten
25 Brora
26 Carrbridge
27 Fort Augustus
28 Fortrose and Rosemarkie
29 Golspie
30 Grantown on Spey
31 Harris Scarista
32 Inverness
33 Kingussie
34 Loch Ness New
35 Muir of Ord
36 Nairn
37 Nairn Dunbar
38 Newtonmore
39 Royal Dornoch Championship
40 Strathpeffer Spa
41 Tain
42 Ullapool

The North East
43 Ballater
44 Banchory
45 Buckpool
46 Cruden Bay
47 Cullen
48 Duff House Royal
49 Dufftown
50 Elgin
51 Forres
52 Garmouth and Kingston
53 Hopeman
54 Keith
55 Kemnay
56 Moray New
57 Moray Old
58 Newburgh on Ythan
59 Peterculter
60 Rothes
61 Royal Tarlair
62 Spey Bay
63 Strathlene Buckie
64 Stonehaven

The Heartlands
65 Aberdour
66 Alyth
67 Arbroath
68 Auchterarder
69 Balbirnie Park
70 Blair Atholl
71 Blairgowrie Lansdowne
72 Blairgowrie Rosemount
73 Brechin
74 Burntisland
75 Carnoustie Burnside
76 Carnoustie Championship
77 Crail Balcomie
78 Downfield
79 Drumoig
80 Dunfermline Pitfirrane
81 Dunkeld and Birnam
82 Edzell Old
83 Elie
84 Elie Sports Club
85 Forfar
86 Gleneagles Kings
87 Gleneagles Queen's
88 Glenisla
89 Killin
90 Kingsbarns
91 Kinross Bruce
92 Kinross Montgomery
93 Kirkcaldy
94 Kirriemuir
95 Kittocks Fairmont St Andrews (formerly the Devlin)
96 Ladybank
97 Letham Grange Old
98 Leven Links
99 Lundin
100 Milnathort
101 Monifeith Medal
102 Montrose Medal
103 Murrayshall Old
104 Murrayshall Lynedoch
105 Piperdam
106 Pitlochry
107 Pitreavie
108 Scotscraig
109 St Andrews Jubilee
110 St Andrews New
111 St Andrews Old
112 St Michaels
113 Taymouth Castle
114 Thornton
115 Torrance Fairmont St Andrews
116 Tulliallan

The South East
117 Baberton
118 Braid Hills No 1
119 Braid Hills Princes
120 Broomieknowe
121 Bruntsfield
122 Cardrona
123 Carricknowe
124 Castle Park
125 Craigentinny
126 Craigielaw
127 Craigmillar Park
128 Dalmahoy East
129 Deer Park
130 Duddingston
131 Dunbar
132 Dundas Park
133 Duns
134 Eyemouth
135 Gifford
136 Glen
137 Glencorse
138 Gogarburn
139 Greenburn
140 Gullane No 1
141 Gullane No 2
142 Gullane No 3
143 Gullane Children's
144 Haddington
145 Harburn
146 Hawick
147 Hirsel
148 Kilspindie
149 Kings Acre
150 Kingsknowe
151 Lauder
152 Liberton
153 Longniddry
154 Lothianburn
155 Luffness New
156 Merchants of Edinburgh
157 Mortonhall
158 Muirfield
159 Murrayfield
160 Musselburgh Monktonhall
161 Newbattle
162 Niddry Castle
163 North Berwick
164 North Berwick Children's
165 Peebles
166 Prestonfield
167 Ratho Park
168 Ravelston
169 Roxburghe
170 Royal Burgess
171 Royal Musselburgh
172 Silverknowes
173 St Boswells
174 Swanston
175 Torphin Hill
176 Torwoodlee
177 Turnhouse
178 Uphall
179 West Linton
180 West Lothian
181 Whitekirk
182 Winterfield
183 Woll

Central
184 Alexandra Park
185 Alloa
186 Biggar
187 Bishopbriggs
188 Braehead
189 Buchanan Castle
190 Caldwell
191 Callander
192 Cardross
193 Carnwath
194 Carrick
195 Cathcart Castle
196 Cawder Keir
197 Dollar
198 Dunblane New
199 East Renfrewshire
200 Elderslie
201Erskine
202 Falkirk Tryst
203 Gleddoch
204 Glenbervie
205 Gourock
206 Greenock
207 Haggs Castle
208 Hamilton
209 Kilmacolm
210 Kilsyth Lennox
211 Lanark
212 Littlehill
213 Loch Lomond
214 Lochwinnoch
215 Milngavie
216 Muckhart Cowden/Arndean
217 Old Ranfurly
218 Paisley
219 Ranfurly Castle
220 Renfrew
221 Shotts
222 Stirling
223 Westerwood
224 Whitecraigs
225 Douglas Park

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