Hi folks, wind to test even the purest of ball flights was the theme for the three practice days I spent with Alan Dunbar and Paul Cutler at last week’s Walker Cup matches. It was amateur links golf at its finest and I think the elements proved the difference between the 2 teams. The home lads seemed to handle it better – low flighted iron shots, bump n’ runs – our guys had the lot!
I travelled up from Edinburgh to meet the lads on the Tuesday, by which time they were half way through their practice round at the magnificent Royal Aberdeen, Balgonie Links. My first impressions were a links course in great shape, reminiscent of County Louth and Royal County Down back home. In other words – a pretty good test! As I walked the last few holes with Paul and Alan I got a chance to watch Tom Lewis play and he was impressive. He had that ‘professional vibe’ about him. His technique was sound and looked like he kept himself in good shape. Indeed, he even hit a 2 iron into the last green which was one of the purest shots I’v ever seen. It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds!
Tuesday afternoon afforded a bit of practice time for the lads in what is a very busy week, so Paul and I took the opportunity to get the swing polished before the weekend’s action and also to do the customary short game challenges. The swings we caught on camera toward the end of our session were especially good – the product of the 10 months Paul and I have done together. We both liked the look of what we saw and we knew he was ready to play.
Wednesday meant a trip round Carnoustie in another ‘gentle breeze’. The atmosphere was relaxed and the group contained the Irish lads together with Jack Senior and Stiggy Hodgson. The craic was good and I think they all really enjoyed the chance to play such an iconic course. It was also an interesting day for me as I had the chance to have a good chat with Ian Rae (SGU National Coach) after the round and he lived up to his reputation as being a helpful guy who is very generous with his time.
Thursday was my last chance to watch the two lads in action and under lovely blue skies they both seemed in great form as they played a foursome practice match this time against Andy Sullivan & Andrew Brown and Jack Senior & Stiggy Hodgson. Having got a chance to see the full course this time in more benign conditions, it really is a good championship test with variety throughout.
Of course in the end it ended up a great victory for GB & I with Alan and Paul contributing 5.5 out of 6 points which was fantastic. I’m sure they will have some great memories. Nigel proved to be a very popular captain and it was great that he could arrange such Scottish weather!
All in all I enjoyed my trip immensely and it was great to leave the lads at the end of practice to do what they do best – shine on the big stage. I will be back in Scotland soon at the Dunhill Links, so if you are interested check out my latest tour diary entry from there,