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Play a Scottish Tournament

I didn't mind much. I played pick-up matches while the survivors played two eighteen-hole matches per day. The participants in the thirty-six-hole final were Iain MacCuaig, an Islay plumber, and Rob Smith, a native of Aberdeen who lives in Ohio but had married into the Middletons—the family of the Islay Golf Club's match secretary. Smith and his wife, Ann, had brought their infant son back to Islay, where he would be christened the next day.

Iain looked uneasy in front of the 100 people who followed him during the final. He foozled his first tee shot of the afternoon round. On the ninth, a small flock of sheep grazed placidly by the fairway as the championship match approached. "Chase them onto the green," Iain muttered. "Maybe I could hit one."

Rob, with Ann's brothers taking turns carrying his bag, closed the match on the thirty-second hole, making bogey to Iain's double bogey. He became the third member of the Middleton clan to win the Cross. His eyes glistened in the sunlight as he accepted congratulations. "It's a dream," he said.

I agreed.

Links to Links

No single web site provides a full list of Scottish golf tournaments open to visiting Americans. But getting tournament information online is easy. Many Scottish golf clubs now have web sites. It just takes some surfing to find them.

If you have no particular destination, start with a portal site that offers links to various clubs. One of the biggest is dmoz.org/sports/golf/courses/Europe/United_Kingdom/Scotland, which links to more than seventy Scottish club sites. Another, golfhighland.com, has links to forty-five clubs in the Highlands region.

If you have a particular club in mind, google it. Chances are that google.com will come up with the club's official web site. Once there, look for a page called "fixtures" or "tournaments" or simply "calendar of events." Most Scottish clubs will show at least one multiday event similar to the Islay Golf Club's Kildalton Cross. Such events are either open to all comers or to anyone paying the annual nonresident membership fee, which is generally under $320. Royal Dornoch (royaldornoch.com), for instance, hosts a weeklong event every August called the Carnegie Shield, open to players with handicaps of twenty-one or less. Cruden Bay Golf Club (crudenbaygolfclub.co.uk) has a four-day Challenge Cup, open to all comers with handicaps of twenty or below, in mid-July. Each May at Machrihanish Golf Club (machgolf.com), Golf Festival Week features a new competition each day with varying formats for players with handicaps of twenty-eight or less.

Once you've chosen your tournament, look for an e-mail link to the club secretary. Send him a message asking for more information or an entry form. Once in a while, you might get a coolly polite reply like the one I got from the Nairn Golf Club, telling me there was a nine-year waiting list for nonresident memberships. But far more often, you'll get a warm response saying that you're welcome to join the club members for their tournament.


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