The Gift of the Game
The game of golf came to me later in life. It was given as a gift and a wedding gift at that. It came in the unlikely form of the most expensive golf driver available at the time, The Biggest Big Bertha. ‘Bertha’ was handed to my husband on the first tee at Royal Dornoch (which may explain why that tee holds a special place in my heart). At that time, I did not play golf and the giver of this ‘gift’ may not have realised how that precious driver would change our lives...or, maybe, in fact, he did.
Six weeks later after my husband accepted ‘Bertha’ on the tee, we were writing ‘Thank you cards’ for all our wedding gifts. I came to that one and it stopped me in my tracks. Looking up I said to David, “Hey that driver is half mine!” A heavy silence hung in the room. I continued with a smile, “Shall we cut it in half or do you want to teach me how to play?” Now there are not many husbands who would choose to teach their wives any sport, let alone golf. But given the options, my new husband reluctantly agreed.
An hour later we took ‘Bertha’, some balls, tees and our black Lab, Texas, out to the far end of the course. I had swung a club at the driving range a few times, even played a par three once and nearly killed David doing so, which may explain his low expectations. But it also meant that I knew roughly what to do. He patiently gave me a few more instructions, “Bend your knees, lean in, look over your left shoulder, keep your eye on the ball and relax!” I thought to myself, “Yeah, right, there is nothing relaxing about this, pal.”
David made Texas sit and wait. With a glance at them both and a deep breathe, I turned my attention to the ball. I lined up, took the club back and with a ‘whack’ made contact. That beautiful sound will remain in my heart forever together with the sheer, unexpected joy we felt when we realised that not only had I actually hit the ball but I hit it really well!
In a flash, with David and I laughing on the tee, Texas was off to retrieve the ball and bring it back to me. As he dropped that little white object at my feet, I thought my heart would burst: this was the best game in the world. I was, and still am, hooked.
So when David mentioned that he would like to give me a special gift for my birthday this year, the clock rewound to that moment. I have been given many great gifts in my life, but the ‘gift of the golf’ for me has been seminal. It is the gift that has taught me the most and stayed with me the longest. It is a gift that lets me enjoy the company of good friends, or have quiet, isolated moments with just the sea, the wind, my clubs and a little white ball to contemplate. It is the gift that has made me realise that only in slowing down do things get better and sometimes things are going fast even when I don’t think they are. It is the gift that has demonstrated that there is unexpected beauty all around and joy can be found in the smallest of motions, like the sinking of a short putt.
But further still, the gift of golf has made me realise that if you don’t ‘get lucky where you land,’ there is always some way out. Even if that way is to go back from whence you came. But most of all, the gift of golf has taught me that attitude is everything and it does matter how you play the game.
Because golf has given me all that and more, it seemed the natural choice to help someway mark a special year. I have come up with this list of these 50 hidden gems located around Scotland, which I aim to play this year to help fulfill a dream. As I have told our daughter, “I have enough ‘stuff,’ what I really want is more great memories.” What better place to get them than on the links of Scotland?
I hope you will follow me on my quest for the best ‘hidden gems’ in Scotland and please join me if you can. You are always welcome in my game.
Yours in golf,
The Lady of the Links