We topped our Scotland trip off in grand style with a visit to the Carnegie Club at incompar-
able Skibo Castle (yes that's the place where Madonna married Guy Ritchie). We were privileged to stay there at the invitation of my Uncle Ted and his lovely wife Nancy. It's great when you are on the north side of 60 to still have an uncle like Ted who makes all feel young with his "zest for living."
Views of Skibo Castle and gardens
Our stay at Skibo, the Scottish home of gilded age industrial icon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, was nonstop joy from beginning to end. Imagine a story book castle in which you are greeted at the entrance by a kilted tartaned gentleman sporting a tray of alcoholic beverages including single malt scotch from the castle's own distillery. Then its on to a celebratory banquet dinner in which Ted and I were clad in traditional Scottish clan attire- kilts included. After a most convivial cocktail hour, we enter the dining room where all the guests and many of the staffers line the long table. This particular dinner honors Angus, the long-time major domo of the hotel. Now numerous toasts, poems and tributes, all wittily delivered, are voiced in tribute to the great man. And then we are whisked into the drawing room where the talented staff members entertain us with song and merriment transporting us back to the Edwardian era when the gentry would have considered it bad form indeed not to include music, poetry, and other ditties to wind up a night's festivities. Some of the guests also participated; our participation was limited to clapping.
Sated, we retire to our spacious quarters. A decanter of single malt rests on the dresser. And this is not your Holiday Inn hospitality bar- no extra charge for taking a dram or two! At 8 AM, we awake to a lone piper piping his pipes - just like the queen. All that is missing is her corgis!
Bill, Lisa and Uncle Ted (below)
Lisa and Nancy (below)
After our sumptuous breakfast, we along with Ted and Nancy head to the Donald Steel designed links. It is a heathland track but nonetheless has the look and feel of a true links; reveted bunkers, a bit of wind, an abundance of heather. The course matches the high standard of everything else at this dreamland. Ted and Nancy are great company; Ted still can strike the ball well for over 80. Although he was a pretty fair player a few years back, he has learned not to worry much about such mundane details as his score. Worrying about that could detract from the enjoyment of the day- the wisdom of age!
Ted and Bill at the Carnegie Golf Club
Not had enough fun yet? Try horseback riding and skeet shooting which we did. The ladies hit the spa with a vengeance. The staff is eager to ensure you have a wonderful time, and we certainly managed that! But the absolute best was the midnight golf we played with Ted and Nancy, three other couples and Skibo's own Alan. We were enjoying a late dinner at the golf club when someone came up with the madcap brainstorm of playing a few holes starting about 10:00 PM. With the summer solstice having just passed, and all of us well fortified with spirits (alcoholic and otherwise), this proved to be a truly inspired concept. Suffice to say there was sufficient daylight to play three holes with our gang of 11. True , we really needed to focus through the gloaming to catch a glimpse of our pitch shots into the par 5 18th struck at about 11:45. However there was still a glimmer of light even at that advanced hour! What a hoot! We were saddened to depart after our two night stay. Having your every whim granted can be addicting! Thanks again to Ted and Nancy for allowing us to be a part of a most memorable event!
One final great experience was in store before we departed the old sod . A round for Lisa and Bill in Ayrshire was scheduled at mighty Turnberry - the venue for Tom Watson's stirring Open Championship bid in 2009. We were in the capable hands of caddie Lee who looped in the '09 Open for the young Japanese star Rijo Izikawa.. Tiger and caddie Stevie were paired with Izikawa and Lee, and the latter had some unflattering words for the world number 1 and his sometimes irascible caddie. The wind is howling- maybe the heaviest wind we have played in. Lee says "Don't try to fight it- it's too strong! Just ride the wind!" Going out is not too bad. We hit downwind- I shoot 39 and par the famous 9th which features the links' signature lighthouse off to the left of the tee. Lisa plays well too and cards a par and several other good holes going out. But on 10, we turn back into the gale! Wow! My eyes tear up ; I can barely see. Hitting the ball on line is impossible. You can lean your body hard into the wind and the gale props you up! Suffice to say despite my good start, my card is ruined for the day. Still, I was proud of Lisa's persevearance for braving the trip's lone day of foul weather . This concluded our 6th golf trip together to the UK. The maritime adventures and golf at Machrihanish and Islay, the history of Inverness and environs, the lovely village of Nairn and its challenging course, the wonderful new links at Castle Stuart, the fun and competition with the JBGS at Brora and Royal Dornoch, Ted and Nancy at Skibo, and the howling winds at Turnberry combined to make this journey a particularly special one.
below: Lisa and caddie Lee at Turnberry
lower: Lisa plays from a mammoth bunker at Carnegie Club