Friday, June 4, 2010

Muirfield - The Journey Begins!

Smooth has taken the lead and put the "World Of" on his broad shoulders to get us to St. Andrews in 2011! We decided that since the "Open Championship" was being played at the Old Course at St. Andrews this summer it would not be a great time to make our Scotland trip. Muirfield will be the venue for the 2013 Open Championship. A great St. Andrews trip takes a lot of planning and forethought. We already have 11 commitments among the "World Of" participants: our leader Smooth, High Right, Turtle, Arnie, Mouth, the Natural, me, Shifty, the Big Man, Crimson Tide and Cameo. We are still waiting to hear from the Big Dog, but he could be in Tibet meditating with the Dali Lahma for all we know. I don't know whether Alice has responded yet, but it does not matter because he will change his mind 4 or 5 times between now and the departure date (which is OK so long as he pays his deposit). We are doing a southern Scotland trip, with a focus on the Open Championship rota courses, with other great links courses in the mix.

Muirfield and The Old Course at St. Andrews require tee times way in advance. Visitor days at Muirfield are Tuesdays and Thursdays (excluding public holidays) with the 1st tee reserved for two balls and the 10th tee reserved for fourballs. Muirfield public tee times were filling up quickly for summer 2011 so Smooth rounded up the gang so he could make an on-line reservation. In order to make a reservation, you must provide the player name, club affiliation and your USGA handicap index. Muirfield is a stickler for this stuff and may even confirm your handicap. You need a verified handicap index of 18 or less to play at Muirfield. I was sure glad that I joined the world-renowned Sanctuary Golf Club rather than the Nomads' Club or the Encanto Men's Club. That would have been embarrassing! Also, my new 13.4 handicap had just been e-mailed to me so I was very proud of myself. I expected to get a congratulatory phone call from the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers on my handicap, but I have not heard anything yet. Maybe the congratulatory letter is in the mail.

We have three tee times reserved at Muirfield beginning at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, 2 August, 2011. This is the first step in the Journey! The next step is to apply on September 1 for tee times at The Old Course. In addition to your name, home course and USGA handicap index, I think that the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews requires a background check before you can get on the course. If we apply on September 1, 2010, we hope to receive a response from the R&A by January 15, 2011. Once the group has dates for Muirfield and The Old Course at St. Andrews, you fill in the rest of the Open Championship rota and other courses.

At Muirfield, we play a four ball match off no. 10 in the morning and following lunch in the clubhouse (coat and tie required) a foursome match off no. 1 in the afternoon. A four ball match pits 2-person teams against each other using better-ball scoring with each golfer playing his own ball throughout. At the end of each hole, the low score between the two partners is the team's score. I assume this is played with handicaps. Four ball can be played as stroke play or match play and is one of the formats used at the Ryder Cup. A foursome match is also a Ryder Cup format that pits 2-person teams against each other, with each team playing one ball, alternate shot. There are some USGA handicap criteria that are used for this type of match. This format can get very very ugly!

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