Driving on the motorways, all we can see are warnings that a bad rainstorm is headed our way. After picture perfect weather, this may be our day to experience a little true Scottish links in all its glory! With an early morning alarm (5:15) after a pretty late night out, we gathered up the sandwiches that Trevor had left for us, grabbed a quick bite of fruit salad and headed out on the road to Muirfield shortly after 6am for our 9am tee time. Although only about 30km away as the crow flies, we had to drive around the bay and through Edinburgh to get there. The first part of the drive was a mix of showers and fog as we drove the the darkened countryside. It wasn’t until we got to Edinburgh that it really started to lighten up with the dawn. And then the rain sort of stopped.
We got to the course a little after 8am to be told that our tee time had been changed slightly to 9:10am. We signed into the visitor’s book, paid for our lunch (we were going all out and eating in the member’s dining room, so we had our jackets and ties with us), and made our way to the locker room to change our shoes. After a warm up on the range and a little putting on the practice green, we met up with Jeff’s caddy for the day, and Scott would prove to be the best caddy so far with lots of interesting tales of who he has looped for, as well as giving excellent advice on putting, finding wayward shots (and there was a lot), etc..
With a distance of 6728 yards, and a rating of 73, Muirfield is nothing to sneeze at for a par 71. We started the day on the back nine, with a relatively easy par 4 at 470 yards. I managed to find the fescue with my drive (a common ailment for me along with going into bunkers), and fought my way to a double 6 with a great long putt (45 yards) from the fairway. In fact, I putted a lot from the fairway today as there were 6 par 4s all well over 400 yards. After that I settled in until 16-17-18 where I doubled all three holes (thanks to the fescue on 17 and 18 and bunkers on 16). All in all, I finished the front half (on the back nine) with a 46.
The back nine started better, although 3-putts, the shanks and bunkers conspired against me. I had 3 doubles again on 1-4-8 thanks to shanks, 3-putt and bunkers! Other than that I finally started driving the ball well, although I didn’t score well, posting a 45 for a total of 91. I played better than that I think, especially given the windy conditions (although dry as the rain did not show up until after lunch and we were driving back). I actually made a 5 on a par 5 (I stayed out of trouble for a change) and ended up combining with Paul and Joe on separate portions to win 2 of the 3 6-6-6 games (first one was a draw).
Lunch was fantastic in the member’s dining room. If anyone has the chance, they should do this. We sat with a couple of guys from Switzerland, all dressed in plus fours as they were playing with hickory sticks and replica balls, which was really pretty interesting. The club is old, with memorabilia everywhere. The course was pretty good, although I do not see how it gets the ratings it does. It is the host of the 2013 Open Championship, and I am looking forward to that as I will remember the holes and which ones gave me the most trouble. I’m glad to have played it, and more so with having lunch in the member’s lounge. The members were pretty friendly, with several of them taking the time to chat about the round.
After we got back to St. Andrews and got the van parked, we headed down to the shops, including Tom Morris’ shop. It was raining pretty hard and golfers were coming in on the Old Course a little worse for wear and very wet. Speaking of the Old Course, we checked when we got back, and we did not make the ballot. There were only a few singles open as the St. Andrews Golf Club had taken all of the afternoon tee times for the Medal matches finals, so we will find an alternative tomorrow, probably the Castle or New course at St. Andrews. In the meantime, Carnoustie waits for us tomorrow morning. Hopefully the rain will hold off.