Grand Finale at Ailsa

by LINKS75 on August 31, 2013

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LINKS75 takes the 151 steps down from the hotel to the 1st tee. Number 75. The Grand Finale.

A light breeze in the air but what we feel is fulfilment. Our friend Arran is on the horizon and our new friend Ailsa out the corner of our eye. We have with us as we wander towards the 18th green our links jewellery – as our newly, elected American chief says, “Take care of them“. Today we are also wearing our home game match jerseys – Turnberry. The course was built in 1902 and the hotel 1906 and proudly hosted The British Open in 1977 – “The Duel in the Sun“- Watson v Nicklaus. The famous lighthouse on the point will be our signpost today. LINKS75 collects itself, takes in the soul of all 74 courses into its being and converts it to invaluable links wisdom and today unrequited love for the ground between the land and the sea.
On the 1st – an opening short par 4 – the green is surrounded by eager bunkers. LINKS75 makes an easy par. The 2nd – a par 4 – turns back towards the lighthouse and a headwind. Stable golf – a Turnberry Birdie. The 3rd – a par 4 – in the opposite direction is 393 yards and requires skilful manoeuvring of the white gold – par. Our Links treasure has to wrestle with elephant grass, which proves an uneven struggle as the grass always comes back for more. At the 4th – a par 3 – the sea is to the left and we play over a links ravine and are rewarded with birdie! The feeling of success overwhelms us – all these wonderful links courses pass before our inner eyes – and the scent of kelp and salt intensifies. The 5th – par 4 – into the wind and length suddenly has the upper hand. We struggle in vain and retreat with a bogey. At the 6th – a 222-yard uphill par 3 towards the lighthouse – the Italians behind us play through. “Are you from Larsson land?” asks the caddie and receives approving looks. The 7th is at the course’s highest point and is a 469-yard par 4 into the wind. It is not uneven just unfair. When we return to the clubhouse we are asked, “What did you hit? Driver, 3-wood, 8-iron…?” A par 4 suddenly seems like a difficult par 5. Links golf at its best and under frustration’s hidden grimace we smile with all our links hearts, which even the natural hazards that await us by the green, cannot diminish. Upon leaving the 8th green we are greeted by a natural experience that leaves us gasping for breath. We head for the championship tee, stand at attention before sending our white gold to the links gods and then finish a quite magical opening stretch. LINKS75 makes the turn under par.

Devotion at Turnberry

Devotion at Turnberry

A few short steps to something so valuable as a halfway house. Coffee with our Links accessories provides new energy and the final march can begin. At the 10th – a par 4 – we get greedy and try and defeat the course and our white gold only just survives. The hole is called, “Dinna Fouter” which appropriately enough means “Don’t mess about”. In front of the green is the famous island bunker. The 11th is a short par 3, which gives some breathing room before three par 4s from the 12th to the 14th holes where three different wind directions play havoc with the mind. The course and the wind come into their own and even though our Links treasure glistens, it dreams of park courses in the sun. The bell chimes for the last lap. a strong tailwind home. The 15th is a par 3, normally a middle iron but today a wedge – par. The 16th is a 422-yard par 4, where a watchful burn of the deeper variety guards the front of the green. We see our white gold disappear to the bottom – diving equipment on – and far down we glimpse our lifeline.

No 16 at Turnberry

No 16 at Turnberry

The finish. On the 17th – a par 5 – our white gold is carried along by the wind until we putt for eagle – birdie. we look towards the lighthouse – Ailsa, and the sea – this symbol for life’s soul and link land’s kinsman has followed us around the 75. We take deep breaths filled with its essence before beginning the 18th and last hole – “Duel in the Sun“. We finish with a birdie as the consummation of all these impressions. Love for the ground between the land and the sea has never been greater.  LINKS75

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