I recently read an article describing the words one should eliminate from their lexicon in order to sound more intelligent. “Amazing” made the list, which left me wondering how dumb my notes from Scotland currently sound, and had me building a list of handy superlative synonyms–stunning, stupefying, brain-blowing, bonkers. It’s the challenge of a story like this–when every day was in some way extraordinary, it’s a task to remain interesting and sound honest, and to raise one peak above the others. There were enough valleys, certainly, to give this story an ebb and flow, but when I’ve been asked, “How was your trip?” and I’m asked it often, amazing dribbles forth. Thankfully I’ve got a few months to come up with a more compelling and revealing description. But for the purposes of this post, Scotland, England, and Wales were amazing. They were stupefyingly stunning. This trip was bonkers.
This blog went somewhat bare as my updates from the road were mostly Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook shared photography. I’ll blame the lack of verbiage partly on my having an average of twenty minutes between my last bite of dinner and my eyes sliding shut after playing a minimum of 36 wind-whacked holes for 57 constitutive days. But the truth was that the images were far more efficient at capturing the joy of golf holes that, with the breeze bending you sideways and run pouring off your nose, still brought a smile to your face as you stood on a tee box, looking down at your ball and thought, how many more of you do I have in my bag?
The trip exceeded any sums, but they’re a fun measure of a golf trip, so the inaccurate tallies totalled up 110 rounds, 8,000 shots played over 105 courses, 600 miles walked, 4,000 driven, thousands flown, hundreds sailed, 24 pounds lost, and 150 golf balls gone the way of Nessie.
The weeks since have been spent reflecting and decompressing from the pace (I still wake up wondering my first tee time), and recollecting souvenir balls and scorecards from friends turned golf mules. I dispatched packages with each visitor, but even after donating most of my wardrobe to an Edinburgh thrift shop (there are some well-appareled gentlemen wandering the parks of the Scottish capital, dressed smartly in rain gear and American golf garb), my luggage barely passed check-in.
I’ve spent these days learning to love the trip again, giving it time to cease being a grind and slog and my regular routine, and transform back into the greatest golf trip ever played–at least the greatest I’ll ever attempt. It’s funny how a few days and a little rest turns aches and bogies into joy. And it’s getting there. And the words are growing wider than amazing. I’ll save the good ones for the book, but I’ll share some pictures here that tell some of the story in the meantime.
More than a tale of courses that were new to me, this turned out to be a story of new friends. I played with dozens of Americans whom I had only met through email, and dozens more Scots who had me tapping down their jokes and insights into my phone between shots (if you thought I was texting during our round, apologies–I was just trying to write down that one about the moose in Canada before the breeze blew it away). One of those new friends is Kevin Kirk at Recounter Photography who made the trip all the way up to Castle Stuart and Fortrose and Rosemarkie (Fortrose and Rosemarkie is one course–what a relief discovering that was) and shared his talents with the project. Kevin specializes in candid photography of golf buddy trips and outings–he turns golf vacations into something epic. If you’re planning a golf trip to Scotland, have Kevin follow you and your friends around for a day, and he’ll make you all stars. The dude takes killer pictures. Truly amazing stuff.