Dundonald Golf In Scotland
As the third round of the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open unfolds, I am reminded of a comment from Padraig Harrington a few years ago. I won’t try a direct quote, but he seemed to say, “We’re professional golfers. We don’t really have problems.” Of course, in a strict sense, that’s not true. Everyone has them, and a golf career can be a tense pursuit, no matter what it looks like on TV. So, in deference to Padraig, we’ll say that professional golfers have difficulties more than problems most of the time. This week, the women of the LPGA are playing in Aberdeen, Scotland on the Dundonald course at North Ayrshire. That fact alone makes me think that at least for a few days, Harrington is correct. They are playing in Scotland after all, and should not complain about anything until it’s all over and everyone has jetted on to the next venue.
Two of my close family members have lived in Scotland, one of them in Aberdeen. They went there complete with all the Scottish fantasies one might expect from an American visiting for the first time. The difference was that the after a year, the fantasy didn’t go away. In fact, they couldn’t wait to either return or stay put. The mists over the hills really exist, as do the heather, the inflection of ancient accents, an undulating and varied countryside, and golf, golf, golf…lots of golf. I looked up the course to make sure I was talking about the right piece of real estate, and found that in Aberdeen, at least, there’s a golf course every ten paces in any direction – and they’re all Scottish to the bone. A championship course, having hosted several major tour events, Dundonald is prepared for events such as this.
Viewing a great Scottish links course brings out the distinction between a golfer and a non-golfer. Every game has its sensations that serve as an allure to the practitioner, but never is so much nature experienced at once, as if the golfer grew out of the ground, air, and water, just like everything else on the course. What one might see as nice, a golfing fanatic might see as a masterpiece of Nature. Look at that undulation there, that color scheme, the twist, the turn, the smell, the birds overhead, that tree, the hues in the water. From there, he or she might map the difficulties of the course, and what cleverness and expertise someone used to arrange it in such a way. The whole view of such a course, especially a course like Dundonald, leans toward that rapturous view of things, and leaves “Gee, that’s nice” behind.
Dundonald is described by one pro as a purely traditional course, but we mustn’t mistake that for easy. We’re halfway through the third round, and out of the entire field, only a small handful remains under par. The variety of international players only heightens the beauty of an event in beautiful Scotland. Karrie Webb is working with a minus 7, after two rounds of 65 and 75. Seldom does one shoot a 75 and lead the tournament. Cristie Kerr is one back, followed by Sei Young Kim and Olafia Kristinsdottir. The bunkers are daunting, the ground appears to the spectator as if it could move under your feet while you address the ball, and the rough – well, it is Scotland…gorgeous Scotland.
Perhaps I’m a victim of my own fantasy, but I’m with Padraig this week. The LPGA is playing golf in a place that sounds and looks like the picturesque parts of a Tolkien novel. The names and the fairways have a music all their own, and so long as no one pushes the red button anywhere in the world, it should be a beautiful week. Being in Scotland, and doing what one loves, sounds like a wonderful break, even if it’s hard work.