A Practice Round Like No Other - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

May 29, 2005

A Practice Round Like No Other

By Rick McKissock

  “That was the worst round of golf I’ve ever played. I lost four or five balls out there.” These were Brian’s words as he walked into the hotel after playing his first practice round at the Royal Birkdale course in preparation for the 2005 Amateur Championship of Britain. The tournament begins Monday, May 30, with two days of 18 holes, after which the field will be cut to the top 64 scores and ties for match play, beginning on Wednesday.

  In his state, Brian may have just said this after playing the small pitch-and-putt course near the amusement park here in Southport. His red eyes and exhausted body were indicative of someone who has had less than two hours of sleep over the past 30 hours (and those were on an airplane), is still adjusting to a new time zone and just walked 18 in some of the strongest winds of any golf course.

Mike is running the show for Brian, keeping him focused and loose, and not letting the conditions get the best of him. As they talked about Brian’s round later that night, Mike was recalling various shots and the nuances of the course and already had a plan on how to attack the new challenges. The two Yanks are confident and eager for the competition to begin, but maybe that was because they finally had a nap and a good meal.

  Southport is a small resort town, with an amusement park and a pier on the coast. On Saturday afternoon, the town was full of families strolling along the pier, shoppers popping in and out of stores, and folks just sitting and people watching. It is reminiscent of a typical beach town along the eastern shore of the U.S. If they celebrated Memorial Day in England, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a hot dog eating contest in front of the big carrousel.

But this is England and just a block away from the amusement area, I experienced what I imagined I would in a small English town, beautiful historic buildings, narrow streets, and a pub on every corner. As we found our way into a couple of the pubs, it was a thrill for me to be having a pint of Guinness, while only 150 miles from the brewery in Dublin.

  The most notable and pleasurable travel experience has been driving on the left side of the road. It is an experience like no other. It ranges from fun and entertaining, as if playing a real-life driving video game, to terrifying while circumventing one of the many traffic circles or making a right turn into the left lane. If fighting the wind of the golf course isn’t enough, just driving to the club is enough to make you want to park the car and walk to the pub.

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