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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.