The (British) Open

20180722_085130.jpgAfter the Highland Games, it was off to Carnoustie for the 147th Open.  We call it the British Open.  Since this was the first major golf tournament, here it is simply referred to as the Open.  For the next day and half, we would be in Carnoustie, along the shores of the North Sea, 12 miles as the crow flies from St. Andrews, yet an hour drive away.  Attending the Open was a pure Scottish experience.

  1.  Carnoustie is such a quaint town  We walked from the campground where we were staying to the golf course.  We were near the entrance when Jen suddenly stopped dead in her tracks.  “There’s Nick Faldo!” Yes it was.  The six time major champion from South Africa was strolling down the street with a few other people.   He saw our awe struck gazes and met it with a “please don’t interrupt me” look.  We didn’t and strolled on by, taking in just how tall and broad shouldered he is in real life.
  2. We walked in an immediately grabbed seats by the 18th green at the same time Phil Michelson was strolling up the fairway.   We noticed that people did not bring tons of food and drinks into the stands.  No one was blistering drunk.  Well at least not yet.20180721_191112.jpg20180722_075026.jpg
  3. When we left Saturday’s day of play, we walked into town to grab a bite to eat at a little French bistro.  One woman was seating people, taking orders, delivering food and checking people out.  One person was cooking.  We discovered this was a theme at restaurants in Scotland.  They hustle on what we would consider a short staff.
  4. The Open is free for anyone under 16.  The campground was free for anyone under 25.  So there were a lot of young men who had a few beers.  And here’s where saw a significant different between Scottish drunks and American drunks.  In less than an hour, we saw one man just haul off and punch another man right in the jewels.  The other man, bent over, laughed it off.   In another group of men, one guy full leg kicked another in the hamstring.  After the kick recipient stumbled, and grabbed his leg in agony, he rattled off a little insult… but all in good fun.  Finally, we witnessed one guy stick his finger up his friend’s bum for a solid 10 paces or so.  The friend didn’t flinch.
  5. So the campground touted itself as an economical way to goto the Open.  They pitched tents and air mattresses.  Only in Scotland, their version of an air mattress is nothing more than a camping pad.  Uh oh.
  6. Jen had never been camping but was willing to give it a go.  She hates cold and rainy weather which was my biggest fear camping within a stone’s throw of the North Sea.  So for weeks I prayed for warm dry weather.  Boy, prayer’s answers.  So much so that the talk of the entire Open was how dry and hard the course was for lack of rain.  So if there was one saving grace of having to sleep on the ground, was that at least it was warm and dry.IMG_5156
  7. We were supposed to camp 2 nights.  We only camped 1.
  8. Championship Sunday was one of the most enjoyable sporting events I have ever been to.  Because we did not sleep well, we were up early and were the 1st ones to hit the 2nd oldest golf shop in the world.20180722_073737.jpg
  9. We got to the course and toured the spectator village.  We were able to get a free 1/2 hour golf lesson by a PGA Pro. We had a pork roll sandwich for breakfast. All food there was locally sourced and totally reasonably priced.  We could get 2 sandwiches, a bag of “crisps” and 2 drinks for 15 pounds which is $19.95.  After eating, we walked the entire course and basically kept pace with Gary Woodward playing.
  10. So the Scots like ice cream.  Everywhere we looked there is an ice cream vendor. So I gave in and ordered a scoop of vanilla with flake.  Flake is a  Cadbury candy bar which is just a light chocolate stick.  flake
  11. We then got seats near the top corner of the grandstand on 16.  From there, we could watch 16 but also watch the tee offs on 1, 17 and 18.  16 was second toughest hole (after 17) and not a single golfer birdied it on Sunday.  We ended up sitting amongst a group of Australian tourists who were watching a live feed of the tournament.  There would be shouts of “Tiger birdied 14!”  Or “Spieth dropped a shot!”  IMG_5158
  12. We then were able to watch the trophy presentation to the Champion Golfer of the Year, Francesco Molinari. 

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