I have been staring at a map of Scotland for months. The Michelin map is a little taller than my five-year-old, Maggie, and each golf course is marked with a tiny red golf club. There are a lot of them. For each seaside golf course, I inserted a little pin. After going through two packs of pins, I got a little nervous. I didn’t mind when a curious Maggie pulled out one of the pins, as long as she didn’t stick it in her sister. The more she pulled out, the less terrifying the trip appeared. She didn’t pull out near enough.
I turned the board over, and I hung a new map, one given to me by a wonderful and generous reader, Gramma Billy, who once sent along some wisdom to me in one of our many email exchanges, wisdom that hangs over my desk and that I expect to make the epigraph of this book: Life is short. Golf very, very often. And dance naked! Her and her husband Gene sent me a Golf Map of Scotland that Gene had seen in a Scottish B&B twenty years before. He had acquired a copy for me from the National Library of Scotland. This map, I was sure, would lay out the itinerary that would take me to the secret to golf. This benevolent gesture and rescue of a rare Scottish chart would be my spirit guide, a divine caddie, a golfing treasure map. So I put pins in all those seaside courses. So many, many pins.
I consulted George Peper’s instructive and definitive guide to links courses around the world, True Links, and there were somehow even more pins to push. I checked out Golf on the Rocks (another gift from Gramma Billy), a book that tells the story of an eighteen course journey through the island courses of Scotland, some of the islands requiring day-long ferry rides and flights in ancient prop planes, with some courses reachable only by parachute, it seemed, and the pins grew crowded around the map’s edges. Scotland was beginning to look a lot different than Ireland. Ireland was a tidy little loop in comparison to Scotland’s cracked and gnarly coastline, with links tucked into the deepest corners and hidden at the far tip of unending peninsulas. And then I remembered something about my trip: I’m the luckiest damn golfer on the planet. And the search for the soul of golf wasn’t meant to be simple. So I ventured forth deep into the heart of Google Maps, and crafted a golf trip to top an Irish golf trip that I thought could never be topped. Every course to ever host a British Open. Every Scottish links I had ever heard of, and about fifty of which I had not a clue. 72 courses (an appropriate golf number, the number of holes in the tournament for which I am attempting to qualify at trip’s end) in 56 days.
If you think the itinerary should be longer, you can send me your suggestions for extra courses to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pick a spot along the way and come join me. An itinerary with dates is coming soon. The fun begins April 26th and ends June 23rd.
I already golf often — so dance naked.