After weighing up all the options and discussing it with my family and the Hooked on Golf Blog team, I have decided that due to the health concerns surrounding the Zika virus I will not be participating in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio. Though the odds are low, my medical staff has confirmed that there is a potential risk of harm to me and my family and I’m not willing to take that risk.
It is with great sadness that I had to make this difficult decision. I was looking forward to being considered to compete in Rio and representing my country. I hope that HOG readers can understand this difficult decision and respect my position.
In closing I thank all those who have supported me in my golf career. I send my best regards and wishes to the the participants who will be teeing it up this summer in Rio.
Today’s episode of “strange golf clubs you find in your dad’s basement” features the “Transparent Olympic Mallet Putter.” This unique putter features a high MOI (moment of inertia), olympic rings which provide a visual aid to the golfer for alignment, and a custom protective cover.
Not far from the Old Course in St Andrews, Scotland is a fabulous, authentic, old-world links course in the town of Crail called Balcomie Links. Balcomie Links is one of two courses on the property. The other course is Craighead Links which opened in 1998. Craighead Links was designed by Gil Hanse, one of today’s most popular golf architects, and the architect of the 2016 Rio Olympics golf course.
Old Tom Morris is the architect of Balcomie Links. Old Tom finished up Balcomie the same year he finished up the “New Course” in St Andrews, 1895. The course plays to a par of 69, and a total yardage of 5,861. If you are a yardage snob you’ll have to adjust a wee bit. Once you do, you’ll truly appreciate the splendor of this course and the overall par and length will matter not.
Fantastic Balcomie Golf Links in Crail, Scotland
The personality of Balcomie Links is fantastically understated. The pro shop has to be the coolest shops I’ve ever seen. I imagine golfers sitting on this bench as children, learning to golf from mom and dad. They grow up sitting on this bench. They grow old sitting on this bench, and life is good for them. I’m envious.
Coolest Pro Shop in the World!
Located a 20-30 minute drive from St Andrews, Balcomie Links is located on an unbelievable stretch of land which borders the North Sea. I can’t think of more than one or two holes which don’t have a view of the North Sea, and most of the holes are right on the water. If this course was in California it would give Pebble Beach a run for its money.
In fact, the whole time we played the course my group of pals kept playfully looking around and saying “Pebble who?”
Tee shots at Balcomie Links are so enjoyable and fun. Tom Morris was quite creative with the layout, and there are tee boxes in some very interesting places. Some tee boxes are by old buildings (below), while others cross holes. Some are by mortar and rock OB walls that must be hundreds of years old.
Par-5 2nd Tee – “Ower The Knowe”
The fairways at Balcomie links welcome golf shots and don’t provide too much penalty if they’re not perfect. The wide fairways provide an enjoyable walk, but on rare occasions present challenging angles and blind shots if the ball finds the wrong resting place.
Fairway approach to the double green on the 11th
Some fairways, in old Scottish links golf style, cross each other. Keep a keen eye open for other players and rest assured the locals who know the course will do the same for you.
Due to typical high winds, the greens at Balcomie Links only run between a seven to a nine on the stimpmeter. In other words fairly slow. American golfers may be used to faster greens, so it takes a few strokes to get used to whacking putts that hard.
Forced carry to an elevated green with the North Sea in the background. Fabulous!
The greens are not severe, but are tastefully protected via bunkering and other hazards, like the North Sea! A few holes feature some strong elevation change approaching the green.
Crail Golfing Society
The town of Crail is the home of Crail Golfing Society, the 7th oldest golf club in the world. The clubhouse overlooks the links, with the beautiful blue water in the background. Crail Golfing Society was kind enough to allow us to enjoy their fine food and a wee pint following our round. One of the best meals I had on my last Scotland trip was accompanied by one of the best views, as seen below.
Room With A View – Crail Golfing Society – click for more
When trying to come up with words to describe the experience at Balcomie Links the first two which came to mind were “authentic” and “true.” Golf here is authentic, as are the people. There’s nothing gaudy or commercial here. Balcomie Links is about TRUE and traditional Scottish links golf and is uninfluenced by the outside world.
Boy is it a world I’d love to live in.
See the whole gallery of Balcomie Golf Links images!
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Fairmont Hotel St Andrews Review
I poke a lot of fun at golf “journalists.” Being a blogger I can do that. After all, most of them think we bloggers don’t even know how to spell, and they’re not afraid to say it. One journalist/blogger I do read daily and respect highly is Geoff Shackelford. Geoff writes for his own blog along with being a journalist for Golf Digest. Geoff’s sarcastic style on his blog is right up my alley.
Today’s interesting piece from Geoff appears in the February Golf Digest. It is related to the new Olympic golf course in Rio being built by golf architect Gil Hanse. Topics covered include whether it will be done in time for the 2016 summer Olympics, and some nice surprises about the terrain that have come to light recently.