"The Links" is over, but not links golf passion
03.03.12

Beyond my wildest dreams

It’s now been almost 3 month since the final game of my links adventure and I’ve been able to reflect some on it, but I don’t think it yet has fully been sinking in.

It’s though very clear to me that I’m a very fortunate person that have been able to do and experience this epic links adventure. It’s been beyond my wildest dreams and I’m very grateful to all that have made it such an amazing experience – Thank You so much.

The game of golf in itself is extremely exciting to me and in particular links golf, but what makes it even more exciting is the people you play and share the experience with. I’m very grateful to my friends that have taken the time join me at different courses around the world, but I’ve also met so many new friends that share the same passion for the game of golf. I hope to have the opportunity to play many more games with you all in the future.

I’m also thankful and impressed with the people at the different golf clubs that have given me very interesting and valuable insight about their club and links courses – it’s so appreciate and have given me an additional dimension to links golf.

I believe I now have an even deeper passion for links golf and for me it’s the purest form of golf and unbeatable. Battling the elements of nature on a golf course that has been created by nature itself is the ultimate experience for me.

For you that have followed this adventure, I hope that it has inspired you to live your dream, whatever it may be.

I also hope it has inspired you to take on the purest form of golf - links golf. You’ll love it.

I did tell my self to not get into any kind of ranking of links courses. Because my links adventure was all about the experience of links golf and sharing it with fellow golfers around the world, not making a ranking. Nevertheless, I have fallen for the pressure from a number of persons and you’ll find my personal ranking of courses below.

As you can imagine, so many tremendous experiences has happened during “The Links” and it’s hard to mention them all. I have though highlighted a few of them in the text below after the ranking.

This adventure is over now, but not the passion for links golf and hopefully will I soon again tee off on a links course somewhere in the world.

 

Ranking:

 

Overall Top 5 course

  1. Royal Portrush Golf Club (Dunluce Links) – Northern Ireland
  2. Royal Birkdale Golf Club - England
  3. Royal County Down Golf Club (Championship Links) – Northern Ireland
  4. Pebble Beach Golf Links - USA
  5. Fancourt (The Links) – South Africa

 

True Links – Top 10 courses

  1. Royal Portrush Golf Club (Dunluce Links) – Northern Ireland
  2. Royal Birkdale Golf Club – England
  3. Royal County Down Golf Club (Championship Links) – Northern Ireland
  4. Turnberry (Ailsa course) – Scotland
  5. Ballybunion Golf Club (Old course) – Ireland
  6. Bandon Dunes (Pacific Dunes) – USA
  7. Cruden Bay Golf Club - Scotland
  8. New South Wales Golf Club (La Perouse) – Australia
  9. Royal Dornoch Golf Club - Scotland
  10. Barnbougle Dunes– Tasmania, Australia

 

Links style & others – Top 10 courses

  1. Pebble Beach Golf Links – USA
  2. Fancourt (The Links) – South Africa
  3. Spyglass Hill Golf Course – USA
  4. Kauri Cliffs – New Zealand
  5. Chambers Bay – USA
  6. Kinloch Golf Club – New Zealand
  7. Castle Course – Scotland (St Andrews)
  8. Pinnacle Point – South Africa
  9. Cape Kidnappers – New Zealand
  10. The National (Old course) - Australia

 

 

Some memorable experiences:


Ballybunion Golf Club: The first tee off of the entire adventure was special. Excited, pumped up and just want to get on with it. 380 yards par 4 and a conservative 3 wood in my hand – bang, 240 yards down the right hand side of the semi rough. It has begun!!!! Great playing partners, Michael and Melvin, - Thanks for a brilliant day.

 

The Island Golf Club: the Swedish flag was up next to the Irish – nice and very welcoming. The Pro, Andy Carter, showed my two friends, Tony and Colette and me, how the game is played – enjoyable experience.

 

Lost 9 balls at Waterville Golf Links! Extreme wind and rain - miserable conditions. No excuse because my American playing partners handled it reasonably well. Had only one ball left to play with when it was 5 holes left to play – nerve wrecking. I never told the Americans about the situation, didn’t want to embarrass my self more then I did with the game!!

 

Carne Golf Links: rough Irish weather with strong wind and partial rain, but one of the members let my host Eamon Mangan, use his “pope mobile”. A golf cart with glass windows and sliding glass doors –brilliant. Thanks Eamon for a great day, despite the rough weather.

 

Enniscrone Golf Club: another day of rough Irish weather and at one point, I and my host Pat Sweeney needed to hide under the same umbrella behind a huge sand dune for 15 minutes to wait out the heavy rain. We shared an energy bar and Pat was telling stories – very special and amusing.

 

Royal Port Rush Golf Club: just thinking about RPRGC gives my goose bumps and be back again at the best golf course in the world is so exciting. This links course has it all. My caddie, Eamon, is a great guy and he caddies for Darren Clarke from time to time. Larrie, my American playing partner also became my playing partner at Royal County Down the following day – very nice guy.

 

Turnberry (day 1): being alone and the first player to tee off early morning and just push ahead in the +4-club wind is special, doing it on the Ailsa course at Turnberry is even more special. It’s not so special, when the horizontal rain is firing off raindrops like bullets that are hurting your entire body! This happened on the 13th hole and I gave up all hopes to play golf. Just tried to get back to the clubhouse in one piece. Yes, I knocked down the ball on 18th, just to finish off in style – foolish.

 

Turnberry (day 2): my “Phil Mickelson” magical flop-shot on the 4th par 3. Iron off tee to the lower ground to the left of green. Aggressive 60-degree wedge and the balls pop right up in the air and lands flat next to the hole, tap in for a par. I pulled out the flop shot a number of times during my adventure, it works every time and people are stunned – cool feeling to pull it off. My little magic shot!

 

Turnberry (day 2): my two German playing partners (Martin & Marcel) have a tradition to take schnapps on every fourth hole - interesting. Today it was a choice of whisky and homemade stuff. The homemade is very nice and taste like cough syrup. I got a bottle for Christmas – Martin, Thank you very much.

 

Western Gailes Golf Club: it’s a gentlemen members only club. The irony is that there’s this gorgeous blond women working in the bar! Men will always be men.

 

Northern Scotland: My good friend Bill’s imitation of Padraig – good one!

 

Moray Golf Club: there’s a RAF base next to the golf course and there are airstrip-landing lights right on the golf course. It’s a surreal feeling having a fighter jet just above your head when you try to hole that birdie put!

 

Cruden Bay Golf Club: what a memorable day and what a challenging fun golf course to play. Robbie Stewart (Director of Golf), Stewart Paul (enthusiastic and knowledgeable member) and my friend Samo, made it a very special day. I will apply for membership at this club and return many, many times. The Scottish did beat the Danish Vikings 1000 years ago at the battle of Cruden. If it had been the Swedish Vikings, Cruden would now be a Swedish colony!!!

 

St Andrews (old course): it’s not possible to make a tee time reservation as a single player, so I showed up at 07.00 to participate in the daily ballot. 15 people came earlier, so no tee time for me that day. Next morning I showed up at 06.30, but 14 people already ahead of me in the queue. No play for me this time either, maybe next time. It’s though magic to just walk around in St Andrews and soak in golf history – magic.

 

Prestwick Golf Club: early morning tee time and it rained heavily. Course closed, exceptional high tide and the rain caused flooding on almost the entire course – amazing to see all the water covering a golf course.

 

Play four “Open” courses in 5 days - magic:

Royal Troon - good

Royal Liverpool - great

Royal Birkdale - FANTASTIC

Royal Lytham & St Annes – disappointing course and I can’t understand how the “Open“ can be played on this course.

 

Chambers Bay: having lunch with the course architect Robert Trent Jones jr and talking links golf for 2 hours. So interesting getting insight and perspective from a course architect – tremendous. He designed uneven tee boxes at Chambers Bay to give the players an option on what shot to make, but also mess with them and be in their head during the backswing!

 

Bandon Dunes: playing the great “Shortys” (links style par 3 course) at dusk in rain with Charlie & Tony and then later that evening bumping into “Shorty” himself celebrating his 90th birthday.

 

Bandon Dunes will also very soon open a new 13-hole par 3 course, The Preserve. We walked it, it’s stunning and I will come back to Bandon Dunes just to play it. Yes, I’ll also come back to play The Pacific course and the other course at Bandon – it’s heaven for links lovers.

 

Pebble Beach: It’s mythical and does it step up to the expectation? O’YES. It’s everything you been thinking about and more - just exceptional. The starter handed out the flag position sheet, but then he said, “forget about the sheet, just try to be on green and you’ll be close to pin” – the greens are tiny, quick and extremely hard to read!! Trust your caddie.

 

Pebble Beach: it’s not often that you are driven to the driving range in a Lexus SUV - service at it’s best.

 

New Zealand: being back in a country I love is special and emotional. It’s also very special to be back at one of the most dramatic golf courses in the world, Kauri Cliffs. The facility is out standing, the scenery is exceptional and the golf course is world class. Drinking a Speights (local beer) after a day on the golf course is also very special.

 

New South Wales Golf Club: 06.45 tee off on a warm morning. Needed to do a quick change of clothes before tee off, I didn’t follow the dress code for a Sunday. Had the wrong type of shorts and wrong color (should be white and not black) on my socks! Did though play some very good golf on a world-class golf course – I’ll be back.

 

Royal Melbourne: I was not able to get a tee time, but wanted to just have a look. Parked the car at the club, checked out the pro shop and was about to walk around on the premises, when I was told in a very “direct” way “members only, leave now”. Things can sometimes be said in different ways.

 

Barnbougle Dunes & Lost Farm: Love at first sight! Tremendous golf, great facilities, extraordinary friendly people and interesting wildlife. Barnbougle has it all.

· Before having a massage the therapist showed me something that was relaxing in the sun I the high grass; a big long black snake. “plenty of those in the high grass, so don’t go and look for balls in the high grass” Yep, that’s a reason good enough for me to be on fairway!!

 

· It’s magic to walk around on the golf course at dusk, because it comes alive with wallabies, wombats, birds, etc.

 

South Africa: my first visit to this country and it was a very pleasant surprise. The country is exciting, people friendly and positive, food and wine very good, the golf is fantastic and very good value for money. This is certainly a country I’ll return to and explore more.

 

St Francis Links: my host Jeff Clause is an extraordinary person and he certainly knows how to take care of people in a genuine way. The birthday treats for our playing partner Hans-Hubert Giesen (multiple German champion) on the 5th and 17th tee box was a very nice arrangement. Coffee and birthday cake on the 5th tee box (on top of a sand dune) overlooking the course and the massive sand dunes was very special. Thanks Jeff!

 

Fancourt: It’s a world-class facility with three extraordinary golf courses. Playing the final game of my adventure on “The Links” course at Fancourt was exceptional. This links course is for me one of the best in the world and having it on your own together with a great caddy is one of those things to remember forever. “The Links” is a very tough links course and shooting an 80 on this final day was a perfect ending on my adventure. Thanks Sipho (my caddy) for a job well done and for the extra very enthusiastic work being my cameraman.