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Day 3

Another early start. I have a 08:30 tee time at Royal Dornoch. This is Tom Watson's favorite course in Scotland.

After golf, I plan to drive a loop in the northern highlands that will take me by some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in world. Much of the dramatic footage from "Braveheart" was shot in this area even though it is hundreds of miles from any of the battles that William Wallace participated in.

Then it's back to Inverness for dinner and web updating.

Golf Pilgrimage Home Page

See complete itinerary.

Scottish Weather

If you're reading this, I've solved my America Online problems.

Today was great!

Royal Dornoch was a wonderful, typically Scottish, links layout. It started off gentle and slapped me around at the end. The weather was good - no rain, no wind (although the mean-long last 4 holes are specifically designed to be played with a tailwind), about 55 degrees and completely overcast. I played alone for the first 8 holes, until I caught up with the twosome in front of me - they were the first ones on the course. I was then joined by Jon MacWilliam who caught me shortly after I was slowed down. He was a good partner, and a great help on the back nine (thanks to Jon W.). Without his advice, I would have butchered it even worse than I did.

After golf, I drove across the entire country to the west coast. It was a brilliant, sunny day over there. Y'know, living in Colorado, I've become somewhat jaded to the beauty of the mountains. I mean, I see them every day and they're beautiful and everything, but . . .

Having seen the mountains on the west coast of Scotland, I can honestly say that the Rockies have their match. Even though they only stand at about 700 to 1400 feet tall, they dive straight down to sea level. Sometimes they even dive into the sea! The pictures below don't do them justice. It's like what the Rockies would look like if there were huge, deep lakes in ALL the valleys. I must have seen 50 huge lochs today - all of them surrounded by the most fantastic, rugged mountains. It is the most mystical and beautiful place I've ever seen in my life. It's easy to see where the Celtic mysticism comes from - everything looks magical, just like it has sprung from the pages of some wizard and dragon fantasy novel. I can't wait to come back with a real camera (I know, you told me so, Jon H.).

Let me tell you about single track roads.

This particular one is about 60 miles long and winds through the mountains and lochs like some kind of a serpent. It's about the width of a bike path and it's a two way street. About every 100 yards, there's what they call a "passing place." Here, the road is widened like the serpent just swallowed a mouse. When two cars come face to face, the one closest to a passing place pulls over to let the other driver pass.

Now, you probably won't believe this, but this is a true story. We had a little United Nations meeting today on the West Coastal Road. I came around a blind corner (one of about 1000 on the road), and there was a micro-van with a wheel in the ditch. It had grounded on the frame and couldn't move. I stopped to help and we began collecting stones to put under the wheels so that they could back up and get some ground clearance. Soon an English couple in a '75 VW bug stopped. Then a German couple and then an Australian guy came along in a Land Rover and used a tow rope that the Germans had to pull the van out. The really amazing part was that the family in the van were from Afghanistan.

I think there's something to this single-lane two-way street that encourages politeness. Put two people in cars, racing towards each other with only their courtesy to protect them, and everyone gets real courteous, real fast. I know, I wouldn't believe it if you told me either.

Royal Dornoch Golf Club. This is the northern most "Royal" golf course in the UK. It has been a qualifier course for the British Open, but it's so remote that they don't have the facilities to support the modern event.

If you ever come to Scotland, try to play this course. It's about an hour north of Inverness, so it's kind of out in the "boonies," but it's a real gem, and it's not usually too crowded.


This is the view back down the fairway from the first green.
The inward nine viewed from the 8th tee.
My first experience with the sodded bunkers resulted in a double on number 4. The next time I was in a trap I actually blasted to within 4 feet - and missed the put. Oh well, I could be at work.

 

Score Card

I've got bunches more shots, but I didn't want to torture those of you with 56K modems, so here's just a few of the mountains

Ben Arkle (left) and Ben Foinaven ("Ben" means "Mount")
Ben Arkle - and blue sky!
Ben Hee
The boat house in the foreground belongs to the British Royal Family which has a residence in this valley. The house on the right is the caretaker's. You can't get within a mile of the actual residence, or see any of it, except for a 50 foot tall (at least) hedge of some kind which blocks any view.
This stone wall was built by the Romans. It was part of a fortress that was set up to extort tolls from the highlanders. Almost all of the roads in this part of the country were originally built by the Romans.
This was really a 360 degree view, behind me was the ocean.

The Tower Hotel

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