MACHRIHANISH, SCOTLAND – I was playing here the day before, with its lyrical name more difficult to pronounce than it is, in this remote and windless corner of this remote and windy country. My playing partner was a local, a retired bishop named Tommy Blow, who has lived in these parts his whole life and has played for most of them. The course features an interesting opening shot, where you can carry as much beach and sand dunes as you feel you can handle (above). The club’s emblem is an oyster, a black wading bird with a white belly and a long orange beak. As it happened, Tommy’s tee was bright orange, plastic, and nearly impossible to break or lose. So teenot tees.
“Who is the most famous golfer you’ve seen here?” I asked.
Don’t lose your obsession: We were in the Tommy wagon. Yes, an electric cart, here in this patch of old linkage land, two small, densely packed golf bags are attached to the back quarter with a familiar belt every American golfer knows. You can smell the manure of cow dung in the wind from the nearby farm fields. There were warning signs instructing golfers and beachgoers not to touch dead birds that were mysteriously washing up on the beach. I should point out that neither condition was like typical. Also, we were playing golf in a good breeze, bathing in the sun, with a view of the easy Irish sea.
We were having a great time.
Tommy couldn’t think of a single famous golfer who played the course. Paul McCartney owns a farm in Machrihanish and Tommy met him, both as a bishop and as a musician. (As a teenager, Tommy was playing bass when McCartney recorded a song on his ranch, with the support of locals, called “Mill of Kentery”) But McCartney was never a golfer. Then came the response to Tommy, which is definitely a fitting name in these times we live in.
“Yes, Greg Norman came here once,” Tommy said. We are both 62, his music is my music, and his golf icons are my golf icons. “He came by helicopter. My brother watched him play the last three holes. He came, he played, and he was away.”
Greg Norman, Your LIV Commissioner! You can’t escape it, even on this remote peninsula, the Mull of Kintyre, in southwest Scotland. At some point in the cycle, the conversation will turn to LIV. On club TV here, tuned to Sky Sports, there is a passing reference to LIV. In newspapers, same thing. Ian Poulter this, Henrik Stenson that. In addition to Norman, Norman, Norman, an Australian who won the British Open twice, once in England, in the infamous RSG, and once on the west coast of Scotland, the stadium is now called Trump Turnberry. Even people here have heard what the R&A chiefs have said behind their heavy walls: As long as Trump’s name is on the track, Open won’t be back there.
By the way, there is a respected course in Ireland designed by Norman and now called Trump International Doonbeg. Donald Trump has a course in Aberdeen, Scotland as well. I visited the land there years ago, when the path was being designed, through towering sand dunes. I told a colleague that Trump told me that the dunes are called the Great Aberdeen Dunes. The man was confused. Never heard of that before. I asked, what do you call them? He replied: “Dune.”
It’s a new sport, to sing Norman praises these days, at least in certain circles. Trump, Phil Mickelson and Charlie Howell participate in that choir, along with several members of the House of Saud. A quick question for CH3, one of the sexiest people who has played the PGA Tour for the past 20 years, and I’m borrowing this query from a friend: What tour does your son, the good little player you’ve been talking about, dream about playing when he gets older?
Of course, there’s another chorus, too, full of detractors, some of whom are reticent about it (Fred Ridley, Jay Monahan), others who aren’t (Brandel Shambly, Eamonn Lynch).
Well, let me say this in defense of Norman: He has excellent taste on the golf course. golf magazine He was once asked to rank his ten favorite courses. Masharnish put eighth on his list.
But the point here is that in this summer of discontent over golf, and turmoil around the “Rebel Golf League” (according to a London report, Daily Telegraph) on the beaches here, along with dead birds. And they didn’t affect anything. Because I have news for all golf pros: You are part of the weight watchers of the golf pie of the world. The draw is the game. the game! This challenging cross-country game that has never been a major sport and never will be. But the game is so great that the course here, expanded to 18 holes by senior Tom Morris in 1879, has continued through hard times and good times, in sickness and health. Machrihanish – MACH-rah-HON-ish, with a nice throat the classroomlike the correct pronunciation of JS Bach – A piece of cheese inside a porthole.
It will be too durable for some visitors. It has no driving range, no wagon culture – Tommy has bad feet – no luxury hotel, no cans program, no dramatic closing hole. But the ground stumbles and sways, the wind changes from day to day, and if you don’t allow it on every shot, you’re not really playing golf.
I’ve been into great golf here, and if you’re going to get me hooked, let me share that note with you. Bobby Jones famously said, “You can take from me that there are two kinds of golf. There is golf – and championship golf. And they are not the same at all.” Who is this Down the fairway. Yes, one of the greatest golfers of all time was one of the best game writers.
I played in one round, two-stroke play happened on the road from here the other day, in Donaverte, a great, tough par-66 course at three feet from 4800 yards. We played in a wind that was getting close to intense. I was wearing a ski hat most of the day. My goal was to play the role with one ball, and by the age of 14, still with my first ball, the pressure on everything started filling me up. I kept it in play right through the bottom of the 18th hole, 300 yards, in the wind. hard drive. Punch 8 iron. Made 15 feet in just 3 a day.
I can’t imagine doing this for three more days, in the wind, cutting 36 holes. The mental stress of real golf, as played by Cam Smith, Cameron Young, Tiger Woods, Max Homma and Rory McIlroy on the Old Course in mid-July, is, assuming you play well enough to make it to the weekend, more than we do. I can imagine. But Jones knew all about her. The 54-hole event, no cuts and 48 players on a soft court, is just something different for the best players in the world. LIV people could call it championship golf, but it seems to me that it is something else. Stroke play is not the everyday game in Dunaverty or Machrihanish or wherever real Scots play the game they invented. Golf is about earning whatever you get from the game, and I’m not talking about the money. The LIV thing is not the Scottish Calvinist game. It seems to me that it is money for nothing. It’s okay if you are interested in this kind of thing. For me, this is not golf. It’s a show. There’s nothing wrong with that, but to me, golf isn’t a show.
As it happens, all my golf courses here have been with the Scots. You almost wouldn’t play here without some sort of simple match. It’s the match that brings the cycle to life, along with the wind, the devil, and the angel in your head, as you stand on top of a ball, taking care of what you’re doing.
My view of Bob Jones, Honorary Citizen of Forever St. Andrews, is: Every golf is championship golf when you’re there not just for walks, outdoors, or camaraderie, but for the game. the game! Not only can the riches of golf bring the best golfers, but the deep and deep pleasures that the rest bring us. Your game, your match, your plan to hit a 4-iron hook from a small hanging lie in a slide wind and onto a left-back pin. Now this ball is out of her face, and what will happen next no commentator can say. Golf is the unknown and the unknown. And we are still struggling.