Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ding Ding Ding. Round 2! Let's get ready to Rumble!!! Again.

I was asked how I like the Caps chances in round 2 against the Rangers. At first blush, I like them. Maybe it's the bravado of winning a close first round. Maybe it's the euphoria of being in round 2. Maybe it's stupid ignorance. Either way, I like our chances.

The new "heavy" way the Caps play is something new to fans that Rock the Red. Something we have wanted for a long time. A style we begged GMGM to provide so we could survive past the daffodils and cherry blossoms. There's a new GM in town. There's a bench boss that actually HAS been here before. There are new faces that have experience, and won't shy away from contact. There's a new air in the Caps sails. We no longer have a guy that leads the team in goals AND hits. We no longer have all of our hopes resting on either the shoulders of Ovie to score every single goal in the series AND hope that the goalie doesn't give up that one goal. We no longer have to absolutely rely on superstitions to give our team just that little bit of extra to push them over the edge. (Only to fail. Again.)

Now, onto the nuts and bolts. I said it after Ovie's reaction to the win in the Winter Classic, there's a different look to him now. He's failed in the Olympics. Twice. Once in his homeland. He's failed in 5 game 7's in 7 years. He's not gotten ANY glory in hockey outside of scoring amazing goals here and there. And even that has been fizzling in recent years. He finally won something with HIS Winter Classic. In his town, on his pond, with his C on the line. He got the glory. Happy Ovie.

Let's look back at the Isles series. There were 14 fewer power plays than there has ever been in a 7 games series in the history of the NHL playoffs. That's 1 per team, per game. Maybe it's the playoff "policy" of letting them play. Maybe it's the fact that there were a LOT of coinciding minors that put the ice at 4v4 instead of a PP. Maybe it's, gasp, a conspiracy theory against the Caps since we had the top PP in the league. (Nah, that's not it, so stop thinking it!) Even with the abysmal PP performance by the Caps at 15%, another 7 PPs would have given us 1 more goal at that rate. That could have made it a 6 game series. That could have given us momentum in a game earlier. That could have given us the the upper hand to pop the top on the PP and raise the percentage. But it didn't. And you know what? We still won! We won with even strength goals. Woo Hoo. Alright, that's enough celebrating, time to get to work on round 2 now.  

As far as looking, back, I'm going to ignore the recent past of the Caps-Rangers playoff series. This is not the team that has played them 4 of the last 6 post seasons. This is not our regularly-scheduled-typically-already-playing-golf Caps. This is not the win-one-for-Hunter-because-he-was-an-awesome-player Caps. This is not the Ovie-has-his-head-down-because-he-didn't-win-a-medal-at-the-Olympics Caps. This is the 2015 Caps. This is Holtby playing 273 regular season games this seaosn Caps. This is Ovie scoring 5 power play goals EVERY game Caps. This is Trotz controlling the game  from the bench and poking Wilson at the right times Caps. This is Kuzy's coming out party Caps. This is a new fresh season.

Looking at the series with Rangers, they won't be hitting us like the Isles did. There will still be the chippiness after the whistle, but we won't have to endure hit after hit just trying to get the darn puck out of our own zone. This won't be a "heavy" series like the last one. But that's no reason to just take a deap breath and rest on our laurels. The skaters need to continue, and rise above. If we have ice, we can use it. The Kuzy/Mojo/Chimer line needs to be healthy and make their ice time continue to count. Ovie needs to find his spots so Backy can either feed him or snap his own past Henry's ear hole. Holtby needs to be stay healthy (no puking this round buddy!) We need to get the Rangers out of their game and get some more PP's on our end. The PP unit needs to step it up to regular season levels. If they want to play a heavy game, we are definitely set up to take care of that also. In other words, I think we can actually control a game for the first time in a long time. There's hope that the Caps can hit with the best but still skate past anyone that tries to stop them. There's hope that the Caps can close a series. There's hope the Caps can control their own destiny. There's hope in Caps land today. As we embark on round 2, I will rock the red for the Caps, as I believe this team actually can.

Friday, September 13, 2013


Everyone knows the weather in Ireland is unpredictable. There are a few sayings; "there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing." "It's dry between the showers." "If you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes, it will change." When I checked the weather on Wednesday for Saturday, things looked grim. 61 with 80% chance of rain. Which in Ireland, means it WILL rain, it's just a matter of how much and how hard. The good news, was they were only calling for 15mph winds.

Fast forward to Saturday morning. A quick check of the weather from 3 different sources comes up with 63 for the temp, 15 for the winds, and little to no rain forecasted. Good. I'm going to pack my waterproof jacket, just in case, and a windbreaker, and wear the under armour underneath just to keep warm. The ride from Adare to Ballybunion is a little over an hour, and though this time the skies got a little greyer. No biggie. I couldn't really tell about the breeze, but I'm headed to Ballybunion! Going to knock it around no matter. And honestly, after lucking out in Scotland, I figured I would get one REAL round of weather, and assumed Ballybunion would bring its A game to me on Saturday.

I got to the course about 45 minutes before my tee time. Checked in, headed to the range. Snapped a few quick shots, stretched, hit 3 balls, and the bottom dropped out. There were 4 of us huddled under the overhang of the driving range shack on the leeward side. It seemed the wind picked up a bit during this time also, topping 25 in a steady blow.

As I head over to the stater, the wind is blowing directly up #1 from green to tee. Seeing the layout, the first few holes are going to be a treat. The starter is looking for our 3rd player, and second caddie. Turns out that the other guy and I would share a caddie for the round....ok, no biggie. He put my clubs on a trolley and carried the other bag. We head to the fully exposed first tee, after another quick downpour, and get hit full force with the 40mph winds in our face.

I play most of my golf along the Atlantic coast, often within 5 miles of the shore, or even directly along the Chesapeake Bay or a contributing River. I have played in wind. But our wind sometimes buffets and gusts. Irish wind is steady, solid, constant. To Start hitting driver 5 iron on a 380 yard hole, and come up short, well short, 9 iron short, is a bit tough. On #2, I hit driver-3wood 25 yards short of the green. It's 397!

#3 turns back, and hitting 7 iron from 214 gives hope for the rest of the round...until you play 4, 5, & 6. We get towards the green on 6, and we are looking directly out at the North Atlantic. The wall of grey is headed right for us! My caddie looks at me and says "Now would be a good time to put on your waterproofs." I barely get the jacket zipper pulled up before the bottom drops.

The tee box on 7 overlooks the beach 50' below. Right on the edge, and directly down wind, all three of us are relishing the chance to play with the wind at our backs. The wind is steady over 40 at this point, so it's time to tee it high, let it fly, and watch it soar over the cliff on the right onto the beach. Ugh. Opportunity wasted. Another double.........

#8 is a short par 3 that more or less is in a bowl. The wind was blowing straight left to right, but a low ball would be mostly sheltered from it's brutal effects. The pin was directly front and center between two pot bunkers with raised edges.  My two playing partners both found the front left one. No way I'm joining that party, so I miss the right on on the right side. The neat thing about this pin location is that is basically is in the middle of a half pipe, so there's a backstop on both sides. I flopped a 60 up on top of the closest bunker, just missed the pin on the way by, rolled up the backstop, turned and came back nearly going in on the way back by the second time. I will take that par as both the other guys failed to get up and down from the green side bunker.

#9 turned back and was playing downwind. Time to let one fly, only a little more controlled this time. Having a 9 in felt like a little victory. With the pin all the way back left, there was green to work with. The caddie must have said it 5 times to me and his over loop "do NOT go long. Long is dead!" Well, I didn't go long, at lest not on my second. Didn't catch my short irons clean all day, and I came up short left. My chip up to the hole scooted on me, never checked up, and rolled off the back, down the hill 15' below the putting surface into a small hole. Great, a simple up and down for par is turning ugly quick. My chip back made it to the top of the hill, leaving a 2 putt from 20' for double. Closed out the front in 50. My worst 9 holes in years and years. But hey, its Ballybunion!!!! And it's raining, again. And still blowing 45-50.

The rough that I saw on the front was some of the thickest stuck I have ever seen. I was 2 yards off the fairway on 4 and moved the ball 3 feet with an 8 iron. On 2, I was left side short of the green in the rough and had to walk through a blackberry bush to get to my ball. A ball in the rough meant a swing and a prayer just to move it forward. The fact that we had 3 showers before we finished 6 meant the foot deep rough was extra sticky, and even less likely to allow you to have your ball back. A true penalty, and lesson in humility.

The caddie throw 3 wood in my hand on the 10th tee. I hit it up the right side, and I hear "great ball" from both caddies with us. Ok, it's a start. Time for a new nine, and to get something done. I get to the ball and it's in an old divot. I managed to chunk-run it up to the front, but walk away with bogey. Just can't get a break or put a good swing on the ball.

#11 could be reachable, but we played it as a two-shotter. Then you turn up the hill to play #12. Listed at 183, it was dead into the teeth. By this point, it's about 2:30 and the wind is easily creeping toward the temp, which is high 50's. The caddies look at all three of us and say hit the big dog. Really?! "Aye, hit it, solid. Don't back off of it!" I pushed it, which just got eaten up by the wind, ending up 60 yards right. Not often I play a 183 yard par 3 with driver-full wedge! Lipped out the par putt unfortunately. That would have been a good story.

#13 gives a breather. 476 yard par 5, downhill. I managed to get through it without a skull, bad contact, chunk, thick rough and card a par. #14 plays back into the teeth. 5 iron from 150, front edge.

#15 is the last par 3, and third in 4 holes. 206. Caddies never hesitate and gives us all driver. I caught one fairly straight and put it on the front corner. Two putts later, I've managed to play all 5 par 3's at Ballybunion in 1 over. If only I could translate that to the remainder....

 #16 is a big dogleg par 5. #1 advice from the caddies: "Do NOT take too much off the corner." When you get down there, you see why. Knee deep grass, gnarly and swirled with depressions and dips just looks like a hobbit is getting ready to spring out. Despite being downwind, he points us on a safe line. The third guy and I both hit through the fairway within a few yards of each other. I chunk a 9 iron up on the edge of the hill that bounds back to the fairway. Right in sold wedge range. When it left the club, it felt good, but I couldn't see the bottom of the pin, At the top on the green, I finally see it resting within 2 feet of the pin. Got my birdie at Ballybunion! The hole is tunnel from 225 out to the green, rising from the Ocean between massive dunes. They frame the hole, but intimidate at the same time. I'm content and move on.

The tee shot on #17 heads downhill straight towards the Ocean. With the wind off the right, hitting a big draw aimed down the rough line on the right means a ball that hits and runs like a coursing hare. I ordered one of them and found a of the few on the day. I screwed up the remainder of the hole to card a bogey, but the tee shot felt good. Kind of a neat tee shot, where again the caddies said do NOT cut the corner.

#18 heads up and over, past the clubhouse. A slight dogleg left, favoring the center to left reduces the amount of club needed it. 3 wood suffices off the tee, and I find another fairway. This time, it's on the right side, not the best angle, but at least I have a shot. The green is tucked between huge dunes, uphill, and looks to be the size of a kitchen table. To add to the interest, the clubhouse over looks the fairway with a long wall of glass panels to get as many eyeballs on you as possible. I flared a 5 iron to the right, but ended with a decent lie (well, it was in deep rough, so relatively speaking.) The pin was front and center, split between bunkers that are maybe 8 yards apart. My flop lands on the slope, rolls past the hole, hits the backstop and starts to roll back, just like 8. Unfortunately, my par attempt burns the lip, and I settle for a back nine 42. My butt has been properly kicked, I have survived the 4 different rain showers, and even a few sprinkles, the 5 club winds that were exceeding 50-55mph by the time we finished, the blackberry bushes, the foot deep rough, the scraggly lies here and there, and survived - barely - Ballybunion. It is one of the most intersting routings out there. Not often do you hit OVER a green or pin on the very next hole. Or have 50' dunes creating a tunnel, in which you are on top of them on the next hole. The views from the cliff are truly amazing overlooking the beach. And the fact that several people were on the beach that day just proves that Ballybunion is a truly unique place.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

17 & 18

The Road Hole may be one of the most famous holes in golf. Funny thing is, you can't see it. Honestly, your aiming for a letter on a wall. That's it. Well, I managed to clear "the line" within a few feet, and got a "great shot" from Mitch and Hamish. Sweet! One of the most nerve racking shots out of the way with approval from my caddie. As I said, the wind was nearly in our face, blowing 20ish at this point. As you have seen from the pics before, the pin on 17 was tucked behind the road hole bunker, closer the 18th tee marker than the bunker. The bunker was reconstructed over the winter to make it slightly bigger, but to blend the surrounding areas to funnel more shots from further away into the bunker. Having walked by this pin position, there is NO WAY possible to get anywhere near this pin. I was 192 to the front, into at least a club wind. We decided to play it 210 just off the bunker, trying to catch a piece of the green. Talk about an intimidating shot. It looks like your trying to land on a piece of toast, trying to stop it before the walking path/road/stone wall. I just couldn't commit 100% to it, and pushed a hybrid slightly right. I ended up in the rough, but was past the bunker with a straight shot to the hole. Mitch gives me the line...the tee marker for the 18th and I step in to chunk it along the entire length of the green with a wedge. Turns out, the ball was sitting a bit off the ground, and I catch it a few grooves high on the face. I end up 20 feet just under the hole. I burned the right lip, but walk off the 17th with a solid 5. And no bunker!

When we reach the 18th tee, it's nearly 4pm. At this time of day, there are people everywhere both on and around the course. We waited for the group in front to clear, then had to wait for a truck to cross, then a group of 5 people walking across the course on the road. With the wind blowing 20 in your face, the shot gets a little tougher knowing you can't just swing away and let it bound its way up the fairway. The line is just left of the monument in town, not quite to the first tee, but favoring the left side. I caught one of the best drives of the day for me that bounded along and scooted across the road, just left of the color change in the fairway. Getting to the ball presented another wait for the green to clear as well as for the players on the first tee to clear. Luckily, you are looking right at what's coming at you, so you can can see when a low screamer scatters the group, and splits you and your caddie with 5' to spare on either side. Time to take a breath and hit an approach to the 18th. I was coming in directly over the Valley of Sin, so full concentration was needed. I caught it fairly cleanly, and dropped it 25' from the pin.

When you get to the green on the 18th, there are even more people milling around in the general vicinity. Some are watching, some are betting on you, some are rooting for you, some couldn't care less that you have on loudmouth pants and are 6 over on your first time around the Old Course. However, they may be impressed that you managed to miss EVERY SINGLE bunker during the round. That's right! No sand for me!!! That is a proud moment. I get over the putt, and Mitch and I agree that it's a ball out right. I charged it a little, just running it by 3' on the high side. A knee knocker for par gets me off the Old in 78! My round is complete.

Now, anyone who tells you that have to play the Old because of the history, but it really is just a ho hum track either struggled or didn't take a good caddie. The place is amazing. Little nuances on the layout make it interesting at every turn. The routing and weather add to the fun. The mix of short and long add to the interest throughout. The big Big BIG greens mean potentially 100-150' putts, if you don't listen to your caddie or get a bad bounce. Maybe it's the 78 with no bunkers talking, but I loved it. Beyond the mystique of the course, it was a great test with the club wind and fast greens. To add to the ambiance of the day, there were jets practicing for the air show two days later. That was a treat having them fly directly overhead while playing on the oldest course in golf.

St Andrews, The Old Course

The Old Course. The Big Show. The Grand Daddy. The Birthplace. The R&A. The Mecca. The Old Course. What can I say. I will start by saying that standing around the first tee at the old course is very interesting. There are people milling around the starters shack, some golfers, some onlookers. Caddies are 20 yards away telling stories, doing what caddies do. There are players walking to the clubhouse along the first. There are construction workers building the tents and mini village between the first the Sea. If you sit, you are adjacent to the R&A building, looming over you in all its stone glory.

The neat thing about the round is they allowed my wife to walk with me. Awesome. We get to experience the Old Course together. Further, as part of the trip, they booked the tee time for two. As it happened, a friend of mine from home was in Carnoustie for the Tassie Amateur tournament. Do to an unfortunate situation after his round on the Championship course in qualifying (always sign your card!!) he didn't make the match play. He would have with the 73 in the first round, but it worked out that he was free for Thursday. He met us for the round, which made it even more special getting to play with someone that I knew, and that was a good golfer also. We get ready, and step up to the starter shack and meet our caddie, Mitch. He's a Kiwi, and his buddy is carrying one of the bags for the couple we are playing with. Hamish Ireland, from New Zealand, caddying in Scotland. Cheers!

Once you get to the tee, a camera man takes a group shot and then snaps away as you tee off. Quite honestly, I'm not sure I noticed him while hitting the shot. I was too worried about finding the fairway. Yes, it's a 100 yard wide fairway, but its the first tee shot on the Old Course! With probably 50-60 people watching you. I've had some interesting and nervous shots, but this one is up there. The best part that makes the shot a little easier is the fact that they mow the 1st and 18th in different directions, so they are different colors. There's a straight line stripe right down the middle to aim for. I managed a 3 wood 15 yards left of center, safe off the first!

The next shot didn't go quite as well. I was actually not far from the Swilken Bridge. I had 115 to the pin, but chunked a wedged, just bad enough to stay short of the burn. A chip up to 25 feet and two putts later, I walk off with an opening bogey. A flared approach on the second short right led to a second bogey. Come on, get it together!

The first handful or so of holes were playing into a club wind from the north west; nearly straight into it on 2-6. I managed a pair of pars on 3 and 4, with about 40 feet of putts made between them. I noticed that the greens had some subtle slopes to them, but it was more about the speed than anything else. When I took a peak at the lines, Mitch was giving me a line within half a ball of where I was thinking. That is a tremendous confidence boost standing over a putt hitting it where you believe it should be instead of just where you are told. Knowing that the flat stick was warm for the round also gave me the interior green light.

During the opening holes, I started to feel a twinge in my lower back on the right side. If I pulled the club back on the correct path there wasn't much pain. If I took it outside, it was a shooting pain right at the bottom of the ribs. I shortened my swing a little, and with the wind, hit little jab shots...a shot that I'm familiar with in the wind.

The 5th is the only par 5 on the front. After a drive up the left side of the fairway, I hit a 6 iron just past the spectacles short right. A little pitch up to 15 feet and a drained putt later, I have my birdie on the Old Course!!! One over! Parred the 6th, 3-putted the 7th for bogey, and made pars on 8 and 9. 38 on the front.

10 heads in a similar direction as 2-6. However, by this point, the wind had turned nearly 180 on us, so it was playing nearly directly downwind. At 340, it can be reached if you catch the driver, and my buddy made it up there, all be it 40 yards right of the pin. I finished just 10 yards short of the putting surface, with the pin tucked all the way on the left side. My birdie lipped out, so it's on to 11. The shell bunker on 11 is HUGE. Also in play on 7, it sticks out because of the enormity of it. Despite the visual noise, I made it over and slid the birdie just a few inches past the left edge. Another par. 1 over thru 11.

On 12 I manged to find my worst lie on the Old Course. Nestled on the right side between two mounds, the ball settled to the bottom of 12" wispy grass. Take your medicine and chunk a wedge back to the fairway. My wedge to the green was not my best effort...the back was signing to me after the chunk from the rough, and two putts later I'm back to 2 over.

After par save on 13 with a 20 footer (after avoiding the coffins,) it's off to 14, the only par 5 on the back. From the edge of the Elysian Fields, I had 3 wood in my hands. Here it goes! And I straight topped it. Please stay out of Hell bunker!! Please. Mitch is yelling sit. I'm yelling get right. It dives over the hill in the tall stuff...time to chase and find out. I manage to just miss Hell Bunker, leaving me approximately 90 yards to the pin. I hit the false front short left, got up and down for a solid par, and keep rolling along. A routine par on 15 sends me to 16 at 3 over for the round.

The 16th is lined along the right with a stone wall. There is no reason to be near it. And, honestly, I wasn't...I was WAY over it. Tee up another to hit this one solidly down the fairway. While walking down the fairway, Hamish asked me about the first ball, and I told him "it's in the next toon doon!" Both he and Mitch cracked up, at least easing the pain of hitting one OB a little bit. Well, a wee bit... Mark me down for a double, heading to the Road Hole.

to be continued!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Dunvegan

The Dunvegan is kind of a standard in St Andrews. Jack Willoughby is a good ol Texan from A&M that found a Scotish sweetheart and they now operate the Dunvegan Bar, just a nine iron away from the 18th green. There is a lot of American influence in here, with a Scotish flare. There are pics ALL OVER the place, with the majority containing Sheena hugging a celebrity or golfer. There is a girl from our home town that worked there for two summers, and several others that have spend a few pints time inside.

We were going to go here on the first night, but the jet lag and wanting, no, need to stay close to the bed meant we ended up at the Jigger Inn for a big burger and a few pints after the Jubilee. So after Kingsbarns, we headed to the Dunvegan. When we first walk in, I spot 2 open seats at the bar and make my way there. I'm getting ready to sit down next to Jeff from the round at Kingsbarns! I introduce him to my wife, we grab a pint, then decide to migrate to a table to get some food. Chicken wings it is. Then the fish and chips! Fresh as can be. And after a few more pints, Jeff tells us we HAVE to try the sticky toffee pudding. He is a frequent flyer in the Dunvegan (his picture is prominent on the sign outside, the bartender knows him, Sheena gives him a big hug and Jack is chatting with him throughout the night.) Well, I guess we HAVE to get some. Let me tell was delicious. My wife now has a new thing to try to make for the cafe/bakery, so I guess that means I'm now a guinea pig. We'll just have to keep trying!

If you are in St Andrews, stop in for a pint, or stay for a few and dinner. You won't regret it.


Kingsbarns is just southeast of St Andrews, and part of the Dunhill Links. Less than 15 years old, it is ranked very highly on several lists, and even in the top 55 in the world by Golf Magazine. I had a chance to talk to a few people that have played it, and they absolutely loved it. It's a simple ride in the Old Course Experience van to Kingsbarns to start the experience.

I got to the course about an hour and half before my 2:20 tee time. They included lunch in the deal, and I have to say it was one of the best club sandwiches around. I sat by the window overlooking the 18th green and took a few last minutes to chill before the round. Where I sat wasn't far from the temporary facility that has already been installed for the Dunhill.

Time to hit the range. Great target practice and free range balls for days. They even had a short game area in the corner. The weather of the day was pretty nice for the beginning of September. When we teed off, it was in the low 70's with a club wind or so. No complaints.

The previous starter collected tees from various courses. They said by the time he retired, he had over 9,000 tees in the starters shack. The new starter, to do something different, has started collecting poker chips. I was keen to this before heading over, and happened to take 2 different chips with me for him to display. He was more than gracious in receiving them and promptly put them up in the window. Thank you good sir!

So I made it through 17 holes the previous day at the Jubilee course without hitting a bunker. Took me the first hole to find one at Kingsbarns! Bad part was I chunked my third shot into one on the first. Then had to play out sideways because it was against the face, and it rolled back to within a foot of the original spot. Talk about a true penalty. Let's mark down a triple and move on....

The second hole marked the second bunker. I pushed my tee shot on the par 3 a little and found the middle bunker. Fortunately/unfortunately I had very little practice from the bunkers, and bladed it over the green into the bottom of a gorse bush. Great. The guys I'm paired with have extensive knowledge of the course, and are actually playing their second 18 of the day at Kingsbarns and I'm playing like I would be kicked out of a pitch and putt. I hope Jeff and Jim can stomach they tell me it's their +/-35th time playing here. (They are from Cleveland, but travel over frequently enough to have a visitors membership at Crail, right around the corner from Kingsbarns.)

I finally get it together and start hitting it near where my caddie Gordon is pointing me.I can honestly say I was a little distracted by the amazing scenery around the course. It was mostly sunny with a brilliant blue sky, the kind of day you would not want to be in the office if you were in the States. But, being in Scotland with this weather was an absolute dream. I must confess, there are limited pics from the course because my camera died on me on the 6th hole, but the images are ingrained. You guys would just be jealous anyway if I had pics of this course. It truly deserves it's rankings!

As for the 6th, it's a short hole that plays under 300...but it was straight into the wind on this day. Gordon tells me to favor the left side. I did, when the hybrid took off, right before it turned further left heading down the hill towards the 17th. I found a flat patch in the rough, but was 20 feet below the green, which also had a 20' high hill between me and the narrow putting surface. Gordon gives me a yardage (guess) to the pin, treks around, climbs the hill and gives me a best guess line to take to get to the hole. Here goes nothing! I hear "keep going, come back, great shot!" I can't see a thing, and am anxious to see where this thing ended up. Within 8 feet for one the best birdies ever. (Jeff drove the green and made birdie also, proving there's more than one way to find birds.)

The 12th hole is truly amazing also. Imagine Pebble's 18th with a lower cliff, and a 500 year old stone wall along the seafront. Just visually stunning. Jeff says this is his favorite golf hole in the entire world, and he birdies it today! The next hole has a 40' stone wall adjacent to the green, from which you hear frequent mooing as it's the edge of a cattle farm.

On 14, I take a moment to tell the group about a buddies caddie story from Augusta. He was debating about going for it from 215 on 13, and his caddie turns to him and says "It's OK, you can just go for it NEXT weekend when you're here!" Then I proceed to take driver (when hybrid could have sufficed) and hit it about 2 feet from a rabbit hole on a hill left, when right is the approach. Catch a flier with clean contact, and hit it over the green, which receives a "oh, you might not like that." Crap. Let's walk up to the doesn't look THAT bad. Until you go past the hole and down the 12 feet to get to the ball! Ok, time to play an American golf shot. Hand me my 60! I caught it just right, flop it up to 8' and sink the par putt.  As we all are walking across the bridge to the 15th, Gordon says "Maybe next weekend you can try playing it down the fairway!" Facepalm.

The 15 could be the signature hole...if it weren't for about 5 other holes. A solid par 5 that sits at an angle, so the further right requires a deeper carry to the green. I gladly take my par and move along.

The 18th is a true test in speed slot golf. A bender to the left, the aiming point is the corner of the clubhouse off the tee. Of course, I'm double crossing Gordon all day, so I started a little fade off the right corner. Talk about adding yards. I had to bunt it down the fairway since the ravine in front of the green is well fed from both sides and about 15' below the putting surface. Jeff knocked one down the speed slot to position A, that was only proven not be A1 when the group behind us hit a low screamer that trickled past us as we were walking forward. Not a great bogey to finish, but the ball striking was on the entire day. I'll take my 82 and get ready for the Old Course!

The property did have a course on it in the late 1700's-early 1800's. Then it was reverted back to farm fields, and then the shore was fortified for WWII. The course is less than 15 years old, but it feels natural. If you really study it, you can tell there was some earth moved, but the tiers for the fairways have blended to appear natural through the past decade. Truly felt like its been there for quite some time. The 12-14th holes are on the south side of the stray (creek) that is surrounded my large mature trees that several crows call home. Watching the Dunhill this year will definitely be more enjoyable after playing this course, and I have to say that it's one of my favorites of all time. If you make it to St Andrews, it's a must play! (To sweeten the deal, after you pay full rate for the first round, every round within 7 days is half price. So play it a couple of times during the week, like Jeff and Jim. BTW, Jeff shot 71, his career best at Kingsbarns. The guy has some game, he's a 3 at Firestone! Gotta give him a shout out for the superb round!!!!)