by G. Rennie
A conspicuous presence at Sunday’s final round of the Scottish Open was photographer Brian Morgan. He hoofed around the soggy Castle Stuart Golf Links in his traditional kilt snapping pictures of golf’s elite. Morgan has chronicled players, championships and golf courses for 50 years now and he’s in the habit of wearing the kilt on the final day of competition at each event he covers anywhere on the globe. As far as Sunday wardrobe traditions go this one trumps Tiger’s red shirt by a mile.
Links golf courses are a visual smorgasbord. The various shades of green, brown and tan evident on The Golf Channel telecast from Castle Stuart are too nuanced for me to describe but I can say that it was a sharp contrast to the parkland golf courses on display at the competitions taking place on U.S. soil. TV‘s great at delivering the colors at a golf tourney but the three dimensional character of the course isn’t well represented. Even so, the humps, bumps, swales, knobs, depressions and runoffs at this new links course we’re still recognizable – and that’s just the fairways. If the ball strayed at all it found all types of bedevilment from knee high fescue to moss faced pot bunkers and gorse so thick you couldn’t get through it with a Humvee. All that crazy variety makes me eager to get another crack at a links. It also makes me pause and briefly contemplate what the true nature of golf is. All too often golfers (especially this hacker) expect that a good shot will be properly rewarded and skill, not luck, should determine the outcome of a shot and a round. But that’s not how the game evolved and it’s not how a links course tests a golfer. Bad breaks are part of the game, that’s the “rub of the green”, right, and the ability to deal with adversity is a crucial aspect of a champions makeup. In this elemental way golf mimics life- and most truly does so on a links course.
Was that Steve Stricker emoting ala Tiger Woods when his putt from the fringe dropped at 18? What an outrageous birdie! The winning shot was set up by a courageous 6 iron play from a hanging lie in the left fairway bunker over the pond fronting the 18th green. Strick is now primed for The Open in Sandwich this coming week where shot making will be at premium. Let’s hope he carries the big mo from Illinois to Royal St. George’s and also hope that Kyle Stanley rebounds quickly from this surprising runner up finish and gets his first Tour win soon.