Day 202 at Dundonald Links was another cracker and will be brought to you by guest blogger, a man who has a way with words, Peter Borren.
"The Yips" By P. Borren
There can be no denying that I have spent this year in a constant state of eternal jealousy. I have followed Mike and JP closely throughout their journey and have very much looked forward to having the opportunity to join them for a round or two. Fortunately for me, I had cricket in Scotland on Tuesday so I took the chance to tag along with them for a couple of days and get my own small slice of the PureGolf2010 pie.
I guess I have had a rather romantic view of the challenge that they have undertaken. In theory, what could be better than just cruising around all year playing golf? The reality of this life for Mike and JP however is actually a little different than what I had envisioned. PureGolf2010 is a logistical nightmare. Every minute away from the golf course is spent on phones and laptops in an effort to make this work. Fortunately for the boys they have both been lucky enough to have attended (endured) networking workshops run by 'consultants'. Having this invaluable education on how to have manners and communicate effectively has allowed them to reach over 200 days of this challenge thus far. They are obviously both affable characters, therefore it is no surprise that they have benefited from such genorosity during their trip. They have countless stories of good folk, not previously known to them, helping out.
Wednesday the 21st of July was a long day. The night before had rendered us a tad sluggish to say the least. I met the lads early and, after a much needed coffee, we (JP, Doug, Goldy and I) squeezed into the car for a trip down to Ayreshire. And squeezed we were, as Doug had decided to bring all his worldly possessions, for our little golfing adventure. My tiredness was increasingly being replaced with excitement and there was a distinct air of anticipation in the car as we pulled into the Dundonald Links carpark, (perhaps I mistook the atmosphere for one of anticipation, it may also have been my smelly cricket gear or the fact that the Merc was running on the smell of an oily rag!). Anyhoo, whatever, we were there and by the looks of the carpark, we were to have the course to ourselves, and so it proved.
Dundonald Links is comparatively a baby down in those parts. I say baby as in age (opened 2003), unfortunately for me it proved no baby when it came to distance. Having played 197 less rounds of golf than my playing partners this year, I found playing off the championship tees a real struggle at times. We played a best ball match, Goldy and I against the pseudo scotsman and the big man. To say that Mike carried me around the course would be an understatement and the fact that we managed to edge the other two on the 17th is a testament to Mikes golf.
Dundonald is a man made links course. All the holes are enclosed from the others by dunes and as the pro mentioned, when playing a hole you would think that you were the only ones on the course (which we were anyway). There are a number of long par fours which require quality ball striking. My favourite hole on the front was the ninth itself. A huge and rather foreboding bunker guards what is otherwise a generous fairway. If one is lucky enough to miss the bunker (which somehow we all did), there is a mid iron (unless you are JP and bomb it down the middle) down to a green with a burn running across the front and a couple of well positioned pot bunkers ready to pounce.
The short par three 11th was a highlight. Kyle Phillips (the designer) has cleverly positioned the tees so that instead of increasing in distance the angle to the green became tougher as you moved through the grades. As we were, for some sadistic reason, playing from the tips this meant that we had very little green to work with over two huge pot bunkers with the biggest faces on them ive seen.
The twelfth (below) was a good hole too. It is a par four that runs alongside the railway. From the tee you have magnificent views out over the ocean. Its also a great vantage point from which to truly appreciate the Ayreshire coast for the golfing 'mecca' (as JP put it) that it is. There are courses everywhere. I managed to find the burn in front of the green, which proved to be the beginning of the end for me. I have always maintained that golf courses should be 12 holes long. Nine is never quite enough and eighteen is beyond my limits of concentration. You see, I have a problem. I dont know where it came from, or for what reason it has crept into my game. I suffer from the affliction most commonly known as 'The Yips'. Much to the amusement of anyone I happen to play with, I cant bring myself to pull the club back from the ball. Most severe off the tee and around the greens (leaving very few Yip free shots), I am a mess over most shots. I waggle the club, wiggle the club, play a few practice strokes and settle the club behind the ball. The club just stays there. I just cant bring it back. Maybe I need a red dot on my glove like Louis Oosthuisen, then I could focus better. I dont know, but what ends up happening is that I just think, 'bugger it, stop being such an idiot' and I just swing the club with little or no thought. Enduring this psychological battle with oneself over every shot, requires a lot of energy, hence the fact that 12 holes is enough for me.
So, avid readers of this blog, if you want to know about the last six holes at Dundonald links you will have to go there yourself. Those six holes are a blur of hunger, thirst, lost balls and swear words. I vaguely remember finding all seven bunkers on a par five at some stage, or maybe I found one bunker and just played seven shots in it, I cant quite recall. Anyway, it was a tired foursome who finally shook hands on the 18th, tired and yet somehow satisfied, all golfers must know that feeling. Having had the course to ourselves we fair flew around in a little over what felt like 7 hours.
Bucket in a serious pot bunker as the light fades
In all seriousness though, I must say that Dundonald Links proved to be a fantastic experience. It is a true challenge and if you find yourself in the area having played one of the many courses nearby, stay an extra day, for Dundonald wont disappoint. Unless you are a gun, I would advise not to play off the tips as it has the potential to chew you up and spit you out. Only Goldy proved worthy of her on the day, and only because he makes so many puts its ridiculous. I remember on one green, as he rolled another one in, looking over at JP who just rolled his eyes and shook his head, apparently after 200 hundred days it grates.
A big thankyou to Dundonald Links for hosting us. Also to JP and Mike, I had a great couple of days and very much look forward to catching up with you when puregolf hits Holland!
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