Karl Lindholm: A passion for golf, friends and travel
I never played golf in St. Andrews in Scotland, but I was able go there a number of times as a part of my job at Middlebury College.
On my first visit, I took a taxi from the train station to the university right in the middle of town with other study abroad advisers from Williams and Mt. Holyoke. I sat in the passenger seat and chatted with the driver. “The birthplace of golf . . . I can’t wait to see the Old Course,” I said to the cabbie. “Where is it? Nearby?”
He gave me a startled look, and pointed out the window, and said in his best Sean Connery (or Shrek) brogue, “It’s right there, lad!”
It looked like no golf course I had ever seen in the states, a closely shorn field, no trees, sand dunes, hard by the North Sea, a true links course, the prototype.
After dinner that night, a number of us walked on the course, still light in June as midnight approached, and we thrilled to its historical nature and spectacular setting.
I caddied as a kid and played golf in my late teens and early 20s before the practical demands of job, family, and other interests took over, and I pretty much gave up the game.
But I have always been fascinated by the accounts by those who have a passion for golf and have allowed it to take them on travel adventures, near and far. Especially far.
Kim Montgomery of Cornwall made a living as a dentist in Bristol, but he had a peripatetic soul and a passion for the active life. He died too soon, at 66, last year, of early onset Alzheimers. There were many stories at his memorial service in a packed Mead Chapel attesting to his love of the outdoors – and golf!
Kim’s friend, Ashley Cadwell of Middlebury, remembers him as “a total outdoors nut! He loved to hunt birds and had championship dogs. When he embraced golf in his 40s, he got the bug big-time.”
Kim and Ashley (and others) enjoyed golf adventures in far-off climes, “six or eight times” traveling to Scotland. “Kim loved Scotland,” Ashley said. “He loved the dogs running around the courses, the wild and beautiful scenery, and playing with all different kinds of people – artisans, farmers, everyone.”
Their favorite spot in Scotland was Gullane, something of a golf mecca. Ashley described its appeal: “You walk out of your hotel door, turn right down Main Street, past the pub and the church, the bank, the cemetery, and there’s the first tee. Up the hill to the third tee, you can see Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth, and on the seventh, the highest point, there’s St. Andrews around the point to the northeast.”
His friends spread some of Kim’s ashes at Gullane on the knoll just below the seventh tee.
Kim’s friends carry on in his spirit. Last September, Ashley and his wife Louise took a golf trip to Ireland, playing six different courses in six days.
“I find interesting places to go that have golf courses, “ Louise told me (quickly adding, “we also go places that don’t have golf!”) They particularly enjoyed Mulranny and Cruit (pronounced “Critch”), both nine hole courses. “At Mulranny, the sheep and cows grazing there keep the fairways down,” Ashley explained. ”You put your money in a bucket and you tee off.”
The course at Cruit is on a point surrounded by water. Louise’s favorite hole is the par 3 over a cavernous inlet with crashing surf. She parred it! The cost to play there is about 15 Euros.
Russ Reilly, director of athletics emeritus at Middlebury, also visited the auld sod in 2014 on a golf junket comprised of a dozen members of the Ralph Myhre course here in Middlebury.
They too played a different links course every day, courses with the picturesque names of Tralee, Ballybunion, Lahinch, and the Dooks (“everybody’s favorite, the least Americanized, a neighborhood course.”)
Russ was taken by the Irish people they met – Tom Looney, the bus driver from Kilkarny, was full of stories. “The Irish were so warm and genuine,” Russ said. “It was fun playing with caddies, Irish ‘characters’ of all ages.”
Jim Rubright (Bagel Bakery emeritus) is a passionate golfer who also revels in golf travel. After spending time in Florida in the winter, Jim and his wife Cathy “meander home” in the early spring, playing golf along the way.
Jim plays as a single. Cathy walks or rides along (“it’s beautiful, calming”), so in joining other players, they have met many people and made lasting friends “from all walks of life.”
Jim enjoys the challenge and beauty of Robert Trent Jones courses: “There are 27 of them in Alabama and I have played ten,” he said. He intends to play them all.
Jim went along on the trip to Ireland (with Russ and others in the local club) and also a junket to Scotland in 2013 with eight Ralph Myhre members. Like Kim Montgomery, Jim has the golf bug bad and finds interesting places to exercise his passion.
Al MacDonald, my friend from my teen years as a caddy, has been going to Ireland, Scotland and Wales with golf friends for nearly four decades.
He wrote to me recently about how grateful he is that he was introduced to golf as a caddy so long ago: “How lucky we were to learn about a game that builds friendships and travel in such a wonderful way.”
Play golf. See the world.
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