Thanks to the fine folks of Aberdeen Asset Management and Visit Scotland, WUP is in Scotland this week covering the Scottish Open and playing some of the great courses in the area. Keep up with my Instagram, YouTube and Twitter for (more real-time) behind-the-scenes coverage of the event and my adventures.
I sound like a broken record constantly apologizing for the delay in posting recaps and reviews, but the days are packed and so are the nights (and no, I’m not just going out on the town and getting smashed), so refer my social media channels. It’s a bit of a different week for me, which is a fantastic change of pace, not to mention scenery. I decided to sacrifice my beauty sleep and catch up, so here we go!
On Thursday, I played Boat of Garten, a fantastic inland track about 45 minutes from Inverness, which I absolutely loved. Since it’s late and I have another early morning, I’ll have to give you the abbreviated review for now, but it reminded me a bit of the Yale Course, NGLA, and Highland Links.
Every hole was unique and there were loads of blind shots, so if you weren’t familiar with the course, you would walk up the fairway and find a valley or gully that you completely didn’t expect, which wasn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, it made things more interesting, except when you couldn’t find your ball in the fescue.
It was sunny, about 80 degrees and no wind — and yes, I am in the Scottish Highlands, which I have to remind myself at times because it feels more like the northeast at times. With the dry and warm weather the last week or so, conditions were quite firm. The ball was absolutely flying — and rolling — forever, making distance control an issue, and I kept accidentally (and unknowingly) hitting into the two guys ahead of me (whom I knew, so it was “OK”) off the tee and/or flying greens. Must be all the nutrition in that wine they serve in media dining at Castle Stuart this week!
Most of the fairways were rather narrow, as you’ll see in some of the photos below, and with the firm conditions, the ball was bouncing everywhere and of course that works both for and against you. A few times I thought I’d hit a perfect drive or maybe just off the fairway, but then I’d walk up and I couldn’t find my ball initially! — and sometimes I never did.
The Boat was a tough track, but it wasn’t overly hard. Sometimes you play a great course, but it’s just a grind and so difficult that you’re almost glad you’re finished. But, here, it was the opposite — it was so much fun that after I walked off the 18th green, I wanted to go right back out and play some more, which doesn’t happen that often (especially since I usually physically can’t because of my bad back). I had such a blast. It was challenging, but exactly the right amount, so it was still fun. Actually, this is exactly how I describe NGLA
It might play a little longer than the yardage because most of the holes are uphill, but it’s not a beast by any means. You also didn’t always want to hit driver off the tee (even though I did because it’s the straightest club in my bag) — there were some good risk-reward holes, like the 15th, which also has a punchbowl green — that was probably my favorite.
Alright, time for pictures and videos.
And finally, caught the end of round one action of the AAM Scottish Open at Castle Stuart and attended the media reception on Thursday evening…
At the Scottish Open Media Day last month, the defending champ Stephen Gallacher demonstrated how to hit a 60-yard shot on the 18th with a putter, 7-iron and a hybrid — and he hit each to within 7 feet — so we had a media challenge, where we hit two shots with two of the three aforementioned clubs. (Naturally, that range inside 60-yards is precisely the worst part of my game.) I got one with a 7-iron to about 10 feet, but three or four others knocked it closer.
Good night! By the way, I’m playing Royal Dornoch tomorrow. I’m beyond excited.