A Travellerspoint blog

Carnoustie

It is nicknamed "Carn-Nasty" for a reason...

Carrie's first birdie! Carrie has really been flirting with getting a birdie on every course we have played. Well, today she got it! Carnoustie played like a gentle lion today. No wind and perfect weather, but it is still not an easy course. The best part of Carrie's birdie was that she didn't even realize it! The hole was a par 5 for the women and she hit a long drive, an approach shot over the green and easily got up and down. I asked her score and she smiles and said a par, 4. I corrected her that it was a par 5 and the look on her face was priceless and resutled in the birdie dance.

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David managed not to lose a ball on th 17th hole, which was a first for him. If you are not familar with the layout, a creek crosses all over the fairway! I managed to have a major meltdown resutling in a 10 because of a steep bunker that gave me no breaks getting out. This ended my visions of a personal best at Carnoustie, but I still played okay.

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Brian & David are off to Muirfield today and Carrie & I are headed to the spa at St. Andrews. It should be a nice relaxing day!

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Posted by sullivnm25 05:30 Comments (2)

Slain's Castle

A hike to Dracula's Castle

After golf today. Brian, Carrie & I took a short hike to Slain's Castle.

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The castle was originally built in the 15th century. This castle was inhabited by the Earls of Erroll until the late 19th century. Bram Stoker first stayed in Cruden Bay in 1893. Bram Stoker wrote 'Dracula in 1895 while staying in Cruden Bay at Kilmarnock Arms Hotel. 'Dracula' was published in 1897.

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Carrie and I walked up very small steps to a spire. The height of the spire and the narrow steps gave us perspective on what the castles must have felt like hundreds of years ago. We also managed to stumble through some thistles that would annoy us for a little while. We ended this excursion with Magnum bars, Chocolate covered ice cream bars that come in at least 6 different flavors and are awesome. Now we are all packing for our relocation to St. Andrews. I am looking forward to a reliable internet connection and a day at the spa at St. Andrews on Friday.

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Posted by sullivnm25 01:28 Comments (1)

Stonehaven

Picture Perfect

Today our group ventured to Stonehaven. Located 13 miles south of Abderdeen, I crossed some familiar territory that reminded me of the summer I studied at the University of Abderdeen. It was much better to travel these road with Brian this time! Stonehaven golf course is gem, nestled against a cliff with a back drop of the town of Stonehaven, the views take your breath away from the very first hole.

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The course is short, but by no definition is it easy., Mnay times we found ourselves seeking direction from the locals to navigate a blind shot or find a hidden tee box. We were rewarded with discussing the course with the most plesant club member who even offered us a ball Stonehaven ball marker.
The first tee looks out at the ocean and requires a carry across the 18th fairway. To your right is a graveyard, which is next to the 18th green. The cliffside hills presented challenges with walking, but reward with breathtaking views at nearly every hole.

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The highlights included:
The best ball striking that I have had since I arrived in Scotland. I was finally sticking balls on the green from 140 yards. I stuck a ball 20 feet from the pin on number 4 with a 135 yard shot in to the wind. It felt awesome!
Brian nearly holed out on number five with an impressive ball mark to prove it. Brian followed up with a birdie on hole 17. What we all quickly realized is tha this course required a members knowledge to navigate, both tee to green and between holes!

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David had a birdie on the 8th hole. Brian helped read the putt and David executed a 20 foot putt with authority.
Carrie at hole 15 nearly chipped in for a birdie. this is the second par 3 birdie scare Carrie has put on the course, so I am sure her first Scotland Birdie is not far away.

We ended the round in the clubhouse with some of the nicest locals showing us pictures and discussing the course. I enjoyed the best battered fish & chips I have eaten in Scotland. We are headed back to the St. Olaf Hotel for tonight, before heading to Carnoustie and then St. Andrews tomorrow.
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Posted by sullivnm25 01:02 Comments (2)

Cruden Bay

We are staying at the St.Olaf House in Cruden Bay. It has one of the only two restaurants in town and overlooks our next challenge, Cruden Bay Golf Course. It is the perfect location.

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Brian and I woke up early this morning and decided to take a walk before our breakfast and 11:00 a.m. tee time at Cruden Bay. An interesting fact about many Scottish golf courses is that they are and/or were public property and used as an access route to the beaches. This means that in most areas, non-golfers can roam the course as long as they are careful to be aware of the golfers in the area. So Brian and I got our first look at Cruden Bay Golf Clubs without clubs at 7:30 a.m. There were no golfers, the sound of the ocean and views of the spectacular holes we were scheduled to play later in the morning made for a great backdrop. This walk was much easier than the challenge we embarked on three hours later with 14 clubs and golf balls ready to be lost.

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As we were leaving St. Olaf House for Cruden Bay Golf Club, we met Sophie. She is a black lab staying in our hotel who occasionally likes to announce her presence a few big barks. This of course makes us miss Lizzy and Abby, but hopefully they are having a big time in Paoli!

It would be an understatement to say that the day started a little rough for everyone. Cruden Bay is as ridiculously brutal as it is beautiful. My first bright spot was a bogey on hole # 4, a 135 yard par 4. This was followed by a double digit blow-up that put me in a bunker near the green. This was slightly ironic, because on my morning walk I had stopped at a bunker very near to the one I was in and said, "Hello Mr. Bunker, I expect we will meet you again later." How true it was.

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Brian finally hit stride in his game with a birdie at the picturesque 8th hole shown below. This was his first of the trip, but certainly not expected to be his last. This was followed by a long vertical climb up a hill that led us to elevated tees and a spectacular view, including Slain's Castle in the background.

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Carrie had her ups and downs too, but was most impressive with a birdie putt on the 200 yard 15th hole par 3. She missed the putt, but still pulled off a par on this completely blind shot par three. The course advises you, "A blind par 3. Aim over the stake and let go with one more club than you think." The green is obstructed from the view from the tee that players ring a bell to alert the group behind them that the green is clear and it is safe to hit.

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I can easily state that Cruden Bay is the most beautiful golf course I have visited. It is rugged and brutal, but with castle views, ocean waves in the background and rugged hills it is one of the best walks you will ever take, no matter how your golf swing looks.

We ended our day with a very satisfying dinner at Kilmarnock Arms Hotel (the only other restaurant in town. It is early, but we are all beat from the hectic last couple of days. We are in Cruden Bay for two more night, so this is a perfect opportunity for all of us to recharge. I am going finish reading "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (Thanks Megan! It has been a great read) and going to join Brian in peaceful slumber.

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Posted by sullivnm25 01:20 Comments (0)

Dornoch

Royal Dornoch Golf Club

It was a very big day. I finally played my first round of golf in Scotland. We woke up this morning and had a full Scottish breakfast. Breakfast included cold cereals and fruit, which our hosts had set out for us when we woke up. The food in Scotland is much like that in the States, except everything has slightly different packaging. For breakfast, Brian accidentally poured a pouch of dried oatmeal on his fruit. He was quite embarrassed and didn’t want our hosts to know, so he ate the cereal AND pocketed the packaging! This had us all rolling with laughter before we even left for our round golf.

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After that, we loaded up the car and headed to Royal Dornoch (located in Northern Scotland), a club formed in 1877. The Championship course was originally designed by Old Tom Morris, but the design recently tinkered with by Donald Ross. Upon our arrival at Royal Dornoch gold club we were greeted by a starter in a kilt. He was kind enough to explain the strategies for playing some the harder holes, although I am not sure it helped my game much.

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Even though the first hole is a straight-forward easy introduction to Royal Dornoch, I found myself getting nervous for the tee shot. Shortly before our tee time two loads full of tourist groups trying to play the course pulled up. By the time Carrie and took the first tee directly in front of the clubhouse and the bus load of golfers waiting for times, we were sufficiently nervous. We both managed to get off the tee without any embarassment and move on with our game.

There are many beautiful holes, I really enjoyed #6, a 150 yard par 3 where I hit a pretty good shot to the green. The hole overlooked the ocean and also had a view back toward the clubhouse. It was very cool. Overall I didn't play that well. Adjusting to the wind, the greens and the gorse was a challenge, but I am sure I will continue to improve. David shot an impressive 86 and Carrie hit some MONSTER drives. Brian played great golf, but since he didn't break par he isn't satisfied yet. I think he may be saving his best shots for the Old Course.

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I would have to say our group is off to a good start. In spite of our jet lag and travel fatigue we have succesfully completed one of the courses on our list! We are headed to Cruden Bay right now (a four hour drive from Dornoch!).
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Posted by sullivnm25 00:51 Comments (0)

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