Oil and golf
The Travelin’ Golfer is heading to Aberdeen today. My Norwegian colleague got a nice non-stop flight, whereas I had a brutally early morning flight with a layover. Such a hard life she has, living in an oil-rich country, traveling to another oil town. For that is what Aberdeen is nowadays. British Petroleum only has four offices in the entire world, and one of them is in Aberdeen (the others are London, Amsterdam, and Houston). This tells you that oil is a big deal in these parts. And you could tell from looking at my fellow passengers; lots of rugged, strong men heading to the rigs. I couldn’t help but wonder if any of them also played golf. They would surely be power hitters.
We were coming here for the golf though, as Aberdeen is also golf-rich. First out was Edzell Golf Links, a relatively unknown inland heath/parkland course “at the gateway to the Grampians in the foothills of the Angus Glens”, as they state it on the web site.
As we walked in to the club, we had the fortune of bumping into the vice captain, and before long we were swapping golf stories. As it turned out, he was free for the afternoon, and offered to accompany us for our round. This turned out to be the best thing that could have happened, as he was chock full of stories and history, and a fine golfer at that.
The front nine are the easier holes, much appreciated, as we needed some warm-up on this the first course of the trip. Easier, but by no means boring.
After a few straightforward holes, you reach a stretch of really fine holes starting on the 7th, a par four with a big gully on the fairway, making for a tricky tee shot. The 8th is maybe the most beautiful of all the holes. A dogleg right to a green quite a bit below the fairway, it tempts you to try to shortcut over the trees. If you do, you face a difficult approach. If you manage to split the fairway bunkers guarding each side, you are rewarded with a scenic approach to the green below, surrounded by beautiful trees, especially in the fall. A very nice hole.
The 9th is a very long par four, with a creek guarding the fairway to the right. As you approach the green, the fairway slopes deceivingly to the right, leading balls to the water far below. And if you manage to find the green, it has two levels making for tricky putting. The 10th is a par four, with a raised green guarded by a line of sand traps. One of my favorite holes on the course, also one of the most scenic.
The 14th, called “majuba” after a famous battle from the Boer war, is a short par three over a gully to an elevated green. The point is to conquer the hill, just like during the battle. If you’re short, the steep hill will get you. If you’re long, you face a hellish downhill putt. Maybe that’s why they named it after a battle that was lost. One of the best holes on the course.
The finishing four holes take you “straight back to the clubhouse” as our guide stated it. Straight back turned out to be not so straightforward. This stretch of holes provided for a very nice finish to a course we grew to like more and more for every hole played (disregarding our rapidly increasing score).
Right next to the clubhouse is the Edzell Hotel. We expected a traditional British hotel, but got much more. The hotel has been beautifully renovated by the proprietor Dylan Wren in the last few years. One of the best upgrades is the amazing whiskey bar, with more kinds of whiskey than you can imagine, one of the largest collections in the UK. And not only whiskey, also gin, vodka, and craft beer. You can order every single microbrew made in Scotland, Dylan has them all. What else can I say? Not much it turns out. I can’t quite remember anything more….
The combination of golf and whiskey makes this a must see (drink?) on your trip to Carnoustie Country.