In the fall of 2005, I skipped out early from a rather dull academic conference in Oxford (actually Oxford-Brookes, but Oxford sounds so much better), took a train back to London where I had a nice lunch with a former student who had landed a job at a small museum in Bloomsbury and hopped another train to York. But York, while a nice enough place, wasn’t my destination. Neither was my next stop, Edinburgh, where I loaded my backpack with shortbread, watched in terror as gangs of soccer toughs roamed the train station shouting and shoving, and headed to Inverness. My taxi driver in Inverness was a dapper gentleman who just happened to be the founding member of the local chapter of the Scottish National Party- “those bloody English!” When he heard I was headed to Dornoch without golf clubs he offered me his, remembering later that he had already lent them to someone else. What a great place!
Why I was making a pilgrimage to Dornoch is now unclear to me. I had begun to read and think about golf a lot since I took it up again after a 30 year hiatus- too much high school golf had burned me out. Reading about the game and its origins brought me naturally to thinking about links golf and the great links courses of the UK and Ireland. Though St. Andrews might have seemed the more obvious choice, remote Dornoch struck me as a more satisfying and more appropriate destination. I knew I had picked wisely after my first round, a late afternoon walk that still seems like a dream of gorse and heather and pot bunkers. I came back to the road along the first hole at sunset and just sat there, feeling something inside of me being filled up with the peace and contentment I felt at that moment. I was sure that this would always be the spiritual epicenter of golf for me. I was wrong, however, but I’ll save that story for another post.
In any case, welcome to my blog. I have picked a good time to start it, with the Open Championship at Hoylake starting in two days and having just finished a weekend of great links action with the British Women’s Open at Royal Birkdale and the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen. My favorite part of the golfing season.