Dave Thomson

Dave and I were at school together and started playing golf at the same time. He was always a far better sportsman than me though, being much more athletic and naturally gifted, although we both played in the first team at rugby and cricket.

He was a superb full back with a huge boot, an awesome fast bowler and a mean, big-hitting batsman.

It was no surprise then that he got much better at goff than me. In fact he came top spot in the Qualifying School for the European Tour.

He didn’t make a success on tour though. In fact he said he lost a pile load of money and bagged a divorce into the bargain.

However, he landed one of the best pro-jobs on the planet as head professional at the Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle. He’s been there for seventeen years now.

I was in contact last week, as I would like to go up and play the course with a view to writing an article on the place.

I think it’s a pretty rum idea to be honest. Dave and I could have a game and we could catch up on the last 45 years of our lives and compare our very different career paths. Dave kind of concentrated on golf whereas I meandered through university, bumming in the Alps, primary school teaching, ski teaching, golf teaching (well animateur at Club Med!), chartered accountancy, wine salesman, jobbing gardener, investment banker bod, insurance clerk, breakfast chef, florist, cafe owner, golf caddie, turf speculator, failed restaurateur, failed ski rep, roustabout, ski and golf company operator, plongeur, blogger, columnist for a golf magazine in Hong Kong, now defunct. Shall I go on? No.

So we would have a lot to chat about.

And of course, I wouldn’t be averse to sampling the menu at Skibo Castle either and having a wee peep at the wine list over a G@T in front of their big log fire.

In fact it would make a rather nice weekend, all told.

I wonder if Dave is thinking the same?

Goff in St Andrews

Of course I’m extremely lucky to live in St Andrews and pay only 240 quid a year for my Residents’ Links Ticket which entitles me to play on all 7 courses, including the Old.

In addition, I’m a member of the St Andrews and St Andrews Thistle Clubs which costs in total 200 a year. With that I get a huge amount of competitive golf and the use of the clubhouse facilities. Not a shabby deal alround? They sell a mean pint of Guinness and Penman steak pies, have decent snooker tables, Sky TV, a patio and balcony on the 18th and a pile load of history to boot.

No wonder St Andrews is such a mecca for golf and the house prices are still rocketing. And it will carry on I expect. You can’t replicate this stuff. Made of girders and all that.

They’re doing a massive facelift on the old Rusacks Hotel which has been bought over by an American outfit, Graduate Hotels. And wow what a change. The front facing bedrooms have balconies which sit on the eighteenth fairway of the Old and they have built a rather expansive rooftop balcony which looks like a bar and a rum place to sit and watch the golf of an afternoon. The only thing is though, that I’d be watching closely if the kilted caddie steps on the eighteenth tee. Accuracy is not in my game I’m afraid.

And I see they’re also hard at work at the Old Course Hotel as I expect they’re nervous at being usurped by the Graduate Hotels crowd. That must be a worry, as I know where I’d rather be hanging out and it’s not overlooking the 17th of the Old. These blokes at AJ Partners in Chicago, who own the Graduate group are developing a pretty niche and attractive brand. Watch out Herbie! Loos are one thing but views another.

So it’s all happening here in St Andrews and my handicap is even coming down too. In fact everything is starting to go a bit swimmingly. Even the nags are coming in.

But dare I tempt fate any further?

Ok then. 1.05 Sedgefield, Spin the Coin.

An awesome name at least.