Ayrshire‚??s been good to us. ¬†Very good, in fact. ¬†Which is only right and good, in a karmic sense, because the place was for many years a source of less than happy memories for Yours Truly. ¬†Our family made an annual (non-religious) pilgrimage to Nor‚??n Ireland ‚?? The Land of My Father ‚?? part of which involved driving from Kirkcaldy to Stranraer. ¬†The Pattons Five were packed into the car (along with golf clubs, footballs and, optimistically, beach-going apparatus); the 3 in my generation, which I led, would fight incessantly for the duration of the drive; and the windy Ayrshire roads seemed never to end. ¬†Pandemonium in the old Saab, to put it mildly. ¬†In fact on one or two occasions I think I may have been ejected from the car (yes, dad occasionally followed through on his threats) in the town of Irvine ‚?? no doubt deserving it. ¬†Of course I was allowed back in, and the ‚??holiday‚?Ě continued. ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
Anyway. ¬†On a more serious/golfing note. ¬†The 6 avid readers of our blog (hi mum, hi Uncle David...) will have seen that over the past few days we had the privilege of playing Prestwick, Dundonald, Royal Troon and Western Gailes ‚?? 4 top tracks, each within a stone‚??s throw of the next. ¬†At the end of the links lies The Gailes Links of Glasgow Golf Club (the club‚??s other home being Killermont up the road in Glasgow). ¬†¬†¬†And what a gem it is too. ¬†
The clubhouse is an understated affair from the outside, but once you get in you know you‚??ve arrived at Glasgow Golf Club. ¬†At once spartan and suave, if that‚??s possible. ¬†The gentleman behind the desk in the pro shop ‚?? in all likelihood the Pro ‚?? greeted us with that lovely soft Weedgie accent (can I use that term here or is it non-PC?), and told us we more or less had the course to ourselves. ¬†There was some gig on up the road at Killermont, so hardly anyone was around. ¬†At 4.30pm on a muted Saturday evening that was music to my ears. ¬†
The 1st hole is a fairly gentle affair, as it should be. ¬†A 2 iron; a wedge; and a putt ‚?? nice to start with a birdie and get that First Tee donation counter rolling for the day. ¬†On the 2nd we started to get a feel of what Glasgow Gailes is all about. ¬†At roughly 350 yards (I‚??d need to check the card but can‚??t be bothered), you lick your lips on the walk back to the tee. ¬†However. ¬†From about 130 yards out the fairway begins to narrow, and narrow, and narrow. ¬†Merciless heather looms on both sides, and there is a pot bunker or three to gobble up any unsuspecting stray pills. ¬†Hit a good 2 iron and a good wedge and you‚??re in business (assuming you navigate the false front); veer off course and it can be lethal. ¬†My kind of golf hole, if I may say.
The fairways actually were wider than they looked. ¬†But from the tee they‚??re partially obscured from view by the heather ahead, and in the low light conditions it wasn‚??t easy to see much at all. ¬†The message then is that they‚??re fair, but that the golf course tricks you into thinking it‚??s harder than it is. ¬†Make no mistake though ‚?? that heather is abominable! ¬†Every time I ventured into it I dropped a shot, or two. ¬†This won‚??t come as much of a surprise to any local reading this blurb or blog or whatever it‚??s called. ¬†They know its mischief. ¬†But for a lad that hasn‚??t tangled with heather for over a decade, it‚??s a novel sensation and one I could happily leave for another decade. ¬†Hit it in the bloomin‚?? fairway then son, I can hear you say...
Save for the group we caught up with on the 17th hole, there was not another soul on the course. ¬†Well, no other golfers anyway ‚?? the odd family or two were walking their dugs up and down the links, seemingly happy as Larry. ¬†Whoever Larry was. ¬†I was happy too, and relaxed ‚?? at least when I wasn‚??t visiting Heather anyway.
There were one or two semi-blind shots to contend with, which require you to place a certain amount of trust in the golf course. ¬†And your swing. ¬†On each occasion I seemed to somehow scratch together a birdie or an eagle, which tells me one thing ‚?? when I see the hole I get ahead of myself! ¬†¬†¬†
The course had a good set of par 3s, come to think of it. ¬†None were gut wrenchingly long, but you had to be pretty cute about where you pitched the ball. ¬†Humps and bumps and that cow Heather were lurking everywhere ‚?? no more so than on the 14th, which has a raised green surrounded by mayhem. ¬†The talking point really though was The Gailes‚?? collection of short par 4s, each of which demanded something a little different. ¬†I could‚??ve played them over and over and never sicken of trying to ¬†get the better of ‚??em. ¬†
In the locker room we got chatting to one of the chaps from the two ball in front. ¬†Tommy‚??s a member, and was having a wee fiver match with his mate Tony (which he managed to pull back to square after being dormy 4 down, much to Tony‚??s dismay). ¬†Out in the car park we were about to go our separate ways, but then Tommy suggested we grab a pint up the road in Glasgow. ¬†We had nothing to be back for in Edinburgh that night, so took him up on his kind offer. ¬†Before we knew it we were at a buzzing pub in Glasgow‚??s West End ‚?? Tennent‚??s ‚?? with a guy we‚??d only met half an hour previously, putting the world to rest.
Before last week‚??s wee excursion I‚??d never really been to Glasgow ‚?? apart from for the odd game of school boy rugby or rep hockey. ¬†‚??Twas worlds apart from Edinburgh in my mind, somewhere I didn‚??t know much about and had never bothered to find out more. ¬†So when Tommy offered us a bed each at his ample flat up the road, and a night out in the West End, a great opportunity presented itself ‚?? and in Tommy we had a Top Guy to show is what it‚??s all about. ¬†Within the hour we‚??d picked up a fish supper from the local; gone back to base camp to spruce up; picked up Tommy‚??s wee dug, Sushi (otherwise known as ‚??Toota‚?Ě); and returned to Tennant‚??s for another round. ¬†Wee Toota was with us too, of course ‚?? she‚??s a local attraction at the pub and gets much more attention than her owner! ¬†We chucked as everyone ogled the wee thing, asking ‚??how is she?‚?Ě; no one by the same token bothering to ask how Tommy himself was. ¬†He didn‚??t seem to mind.
Tommy took us out to meet a few of his pals who were ‚?? in the Glasgow way ‚?? entertaining to say the least. ¬†Real characters. ¬†It wasn‚??t a late night, but it was a very social one. ¬†Our host showed us some real Glasgwegian hospitality, which reminded me a bit of The South in the US, in the way that the people seem to embrace anyone and anything. ¬†Some people might be a bit wary about spending an evening on a whim with a random single man in Glasgow, but not us. ¬†For one thing it was immediately apparent Tommy was a great guy; for another, it‚??s what This is all about ‚?? meeting people and seeing where the wind takes you. ¬†Great day.
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