HOG World Tour
4:52 a.m. Unfortunately I’m not up this early to watch Open Championship coverage. I’m sitting in gate B9 at the Salt Lake City International Airport waiting for a flight to the next Hooked On Golf Blog World Tour stop!
I’ll post some pictures when I arrive at the next, mystery tour stop. The photo is the first clue. Can you guess where?
Par-3 13th at Kingsbarns
A week ago Friday I played one of my favorite golf courses on this planet, Scotland’s Kingsbarns Golf Links. This was my 2nd round on this brilliant course, my first back in 2011. In 2012 I posted my Kingsbarns Golf Links review. This is simply a recap of last week’s experience as well as a refresher to HOG readers to check out my review and photos of this world class course. If you get to St. Andrews to play the Old Course you MUST, I repeat MUST play Kingsbarns.
I’ve said many times that the best part of running a popular golf blog is the great people I meet. I’d like to thank my new friend Alan Hogg, Director of Golf at Kingsbarns, for his hospitality. I had a great time chatting with Alan who has one of the best jobs in all of golf. We laughed at the fact that his last name is Hogg and how his last name stands for “Hooked On Golf.” I could really tell he reads the blog because he made comments he only could have made if he’d read some of the articles. That impressed me.
Difficult But Fun Conditions
I have a couple of unbelievable stories from my latest round at Kingsbarns. The winds this time around were substantial. I started off par-par on the first two holes and was feeling great. I realized the strength of the wind when I reached the par-5 3rd though. My drive had a tiny bit of fade spin on this hole which runs with the shoreline of the North Sea to the right. Once my ball was above the dunes the wind took it and threw it into the north sea. It was crazy. The ball is flying with a very small fade, then takes a 90 degree turn to the right and is gone.
The par-3 8th hole is an amazing little par-3 with teeth as sharp as a shark’s. Arriving at the tee my caddie Gordon told me “I’m no givin’ you a yahdage. Here’s ur 4-iron. Hit i’ as hard as ya fookin’ can at the rock wall.” I did just that. I crushed that 4-iron at the rock wall on this downhill shot. The wind grabbed it, held it up and threw it into the green side bunker right, pin high. After the shot Gordon told me that my crushed 4-iron on this downhill shot traveled an impressive 131 yards.
The next hole, the par-5 9th was equally as entertaining due to the wind. I’d managed to crush a driver and then a 3-wood to a good position, 136 yards from the green. Gordon and I spent a few minutes debating which club to hit. That 136 yard shot was either a hybrid or a 3-wood. I went with hybrid, killed it, and ended up a few feet short of pin-high. That’s a club that can go up to 240 yards at home and I just hit it 130 yards and hit it well!
Kingsbarns 15th hole – click for more
I ran into some trouble on the signature par-3 15th hole (pictured above). My 4-iron was blown into the rocks short of the hole and it bounced around for what seemed like 15 minutes. The drop area was left of the green. From where I was I could hit putter, which is always my choice if I can. Never had this happen until this point. Gordon my caddie shot the yardage with his laser and gave it to me. I’ve never lasered a yardage with a putter in my hand. 70 yards.
Gordon my caddie lasers my putt at 70 yards!
Food & Beverage
The restaurant at Kingsbarns serves fantastic food and the tastiest “wee pints” anywhere. Perhaps the wee pints taste that much better after playing such a satisfying round on a world class golf course. Maybe it is the views from the windows which overlook the 18th and the North Sea. Pebble who?
I enjoyed the Kingsbarns chili. Chili is a popular dish in Scotland.
Look For The HOG Ball Marker
In 2011 the nice chap George Lawrence who was the starter at Kingsbarns had an amazing golf tee collection he’d been building for years. Players who had unique tees gave them to George. I gave George a Golf Space tee which was proudly displayed. George retired and new starter David Wilkie too over. David is doing something similar, building a ball marker collection. I’m happy to report that the Hooked On Golf Blog marker is one of the very first, prominently displayed right where players pick up score cards and tees! Look for it when you’re there!
HOG Ball Marker at Kingsbarns! Glorious!
I’m hurting right now. It is painful to write about Kingsbarns and look at my photos. I’m aching to go back and it has only been a week. I’ll be back no doubt. Hopefully sooner than two years.
Hooked On Golf Blog Kingsbarns Golf Links Review
Kingsbarns Photo Gallery (now 100 images)
I’m happy to post my latest, really cool image gallery from the latest HOG World tour trip to Scotland last week. My pals and I took a 20 minute drive southeast of St. Andrews to the town of Crail. In Crail is a tremendous Scottish links course, Balcomie Golf Links. Old Tom Morris himself laid out Balcomie Golf Links back in 1895, the same year he rolled out the “New Course” at St. Andrews.
Fantastic Balcomie Golf Links in Crail, Scotland
There’s a second course on the property which opened in 1998 called Craighead Links. That one was designed by Gil Hanse, designer for the 2016 Olympic Games golf course. Didn’t get a chance to play that one. That’s a good reason to head back there!
Locals tee off on the 10th at Balcomie Golf Links, Crail, Scotland – click for more
Crail is also the home of Crail Golfing Society, the 7th oldest golf club in the world. What a cool club to be a member of! Thanks to the Crail Golfing Society for letting us my friends and I hang out in your lovely pub and enjoy your fantastic food!
More on Balcomie later on but for now click either photo to see the whole gallery of Balcomie Golf Links images!
I’m pleased to announce the addition of a new golf course photo gallery here in the massive Hooked On Golf Blog Gallery. I’ve added the tremendous Carnoustie Golf Links course.
Carnoustie Golf Links – click for more images
Carnoustie is a historic Scotland course, regarded by many as the most difficult course in the world. Seven (British) Open Championships have been held there, including the famous 1953 Open in which Ben Hogan came out victorious.
Hogan’s Alley Ben Hogan Plaque – Carnousite Golf Links – click to zoom
I had a bit of a triumphant round at Carnoustie last week. I started out par, birdie, par, par, bogey. Even par going into the 6th hole, “Hogan’s Alley.” That’s a tough par-5. Unfortunately my tee shot went OB left. My 3rd shot from the tee was solid. My 5th shot missed the green left and I had a crazy S-shaped putt off the green for bogey, which I somehow made. Birdie on the 2nd ball. That’s probably the best bogey I’ve ever had.
I managed to play the entire round at Carnousite in high winds with one golf ball. Final score, with a triple on one hole, was an 82.
Some “friends” bet that I couldn’t break 100 at Carnoustie. Time to pay up chaps.
St. Andrews, Scotland – click to zoom
I’m groggily typing today as my journey from St. Andrews to home took over 26 hours yesterday. I had a three hour flight delay in Philly which added salt to the injury of not only traveling for so long, but travelling from golf mecca.
I shot 996 photos while in Scotland. A few might even be good. I’ll be posting more soon.
I will do some recaps of my experiences at various courses shortly as well.
I’m very tired and will surely be suffering from jetlag as the week progresses. My calves are completely knotted up from walking over 80 miles of fairways this past week on ground as hard as the freeway.
The experiences I had last week with friends, in such a special place, will not be forgotten. Stay tuned for recaps shortly.
HOG 2013 Scotland World Tour Photo Gallery