Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Busy week in Scotland includes driving on ‘wrong’ side of road

This week I will be sharing with you my experiences from The Open Champ-ionship at Turnberry’s Ailsa course in Scotland.
This is the oldest golf championship in the world. It is commonly called The British Open by us Yanks.
This is the country where golf originated. The winner of the Open Championship gets the Claret Jug, a sterling silver pitcher that has provided many victory toasts through the years.
It also is a place where you drive on the left side of the road and steer the vehicle from the passenger’s seat. If you are unlucky like me, you get a manual transmission, which means you shift gears with the left hand. The roundabouts can be more challenging than Turnberry’s 17th, a par-5, 559-yard hole.
It’s 3:15 p.m. Monday here in Ayrshire where I am staying. I have been up since 6 a.m. Sunday, so please excuse any sloppiness in this writing. We are staying in a bed and breakfast connected to the Ellisland Hotel about 30 minutes from Turnberry.
The Scottish people are known for their warmth, hospitality, Scotch whisky and fresh fish. They haven’t let me down yet. I am just having a hard time understanding their thick brogue.
This is my first trip “across the
pond,” and my PGA itinerary for the week is as follows:
Monday: Arrive and recover from jet lag
Today: Play golf at Royal Troon and meet with the British PGA
Wednesday: Play golf at Dundonald; attend the British PGA Reception/Supper; the R&A Reception and Dinner. The PGA of America is good about having me be two places at one time.
Thursday: Play golf at Prestwick, one of Scotland’s oldest courses. Attend the British Open in the afternoon. Tee times start at 8:30 a.m. and run through 2:30 p.m. because it doesn’t get dark until 10 p.m.
Friday: Attend the British Open all day. In the evening, we have dinner with the Turner Sports crew on the Orient Express. This is the famous train that triggered the movie “Murder on the Orient Express.”
Saturday: Another full day at Turnberry
Sunday: More of the Open and a private lunch for my wife and I with Hamish Richie, the Captain of the Royal & Ancient, the governing body of golf everywhere except the United States.
The weather here on the western coast of Scotland promises to change every hour or so, as evidenced by Monday. It can be sunny and warm, cloud up and rain like crazy and then cool off and get windy. The Scottish caddies say that the weather will change five times during the typical 18-hole round at Turnberry.
This is the fourth Open Championship to be played at Turnberry. During World War II, the course was used as a British airfield, parts of which still are visible today.
It was built for pilots being trained to fly Liberator bombers, which were used for sorties against German submarines. There are monuments on the course to commemorate those who lost their lives during World War II in training missions at Turnberry.
Part of the Turnberry crest features a lighthouse which stands on the headland between the Firth of Clyde and Turnberry Bay. It offers a spectacular backdrop for this week’s worldwide television coverage. Most golfers in this part of the world would say that Turnberry could be Scotland’s most scenic coastal links course.
In 1977 at Turnberry, Tom Watson defeated Jack Nicklaus in the famed “Duel in the Sun.” Greg Norman was the winner in 1986. Nick Price was the 1994 winner by a shot over Jesper Parnevik. The three winners all were ranked at the top, or near it, in the World Golf Rankings.
Most experts feel that Turnberry will not produce a long-shot winner in 2009, unlike at The Masters and U.S. Open.
The British Open usually is about players manufacturing shots to combat the weather and the elements it might produce. Rain and changing winds are sure to be factors at Turnberry.
My plan this week is to give you a little bit about the Scottish culture, my experiences here and a lot of information on the British Open.
As far as a prediction goes, I have nothing to gain and everything to lose. But, that being said, Tiger Woods is my pick this week, and I designated a general long-shot pick in both The Masters and U.S. Open earlier this year.
When Tiger drives it well, he plays well. This will be major championship No. 15 for the dominant player in modern day golf.
On a somber note, Beth Smith, wife of PGA Tour player Chris Smith, will be laid to rest today in Peru, Ind. Support for the Beth Smith Memorial Tournament, scheduled for Aug. 7 at The Legends of Indiana Golf Course, has been incredible. For details and information, visit legendsof
Ted Bishop is director of golf for The Legends of Indiana Golf Course in Franklin and is secretary for PGA of America.

Photo Caption: This week I will be sharing with you my experiences from The Open Champ-ionship at Turnberry’s Ailsa course in Scotland.
This is the oldest golf championship in the world. It is commonly called The British Open by us Yanks.

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