Tuesday, November 18, 2014

10 Ways To Ruin a Round of Golf

From dew busting and splitting fairways to rolling in 20 footers and draining a few frosty brews after a round, I can't get enough of the golf experience.

There are some things, however, that are extremely bothersome and can easily alter my euphoric state when I'm roaming the fairways.

Here are some happenings that make me madder than warm beer at the 19th hole:

1. Smug and unfriendly pro shop attendants--How many times do I have to deal with the boorish and bored pro shop counter attendant who wishes he, not me, was playing. You know the type: The junior golfer phenom with PGA Tour dreams who washed out on the mini-tours and ended up behind the pro shop counter. He doesn't want to be there and it usually shows with his indifferent attitude.

2. Grumpy starters--This is typically the irritating retired guy who reads the rules off like some Mike Ditka or Bobby Knight wannabe. The guy treats you like a bunch of first graders about to embark on a field trip. Don't do this, don't do this, don't do this....Many of these guys act like you've never been on a golf course.

3. Bad beverage cart service--When my game is going down the dumper and the golf gods are against me,  I occasionally need a sports drink or some swing oil (beer). I've had too many rounds where I see the concession cart on the front nine and then they never show up again when I really need some refreshment. I don't know if it's a logistics thing, understaffing, laziness or what, but it happens all too frequently.

4. Inconsiderate course maintenance people--You've got a great round going and then "mower guy" shows up during your backswing and poof....there goes your tee ball into the trees. Show some consideration "mower guy" and park up on that nearby hill while I'm swinging. 

5. Aerated greens--I love how many courses neglect to tell you about their aerated greens. There's nothing quite like playing 18 holes of bumpy and goofy putts. Then, they have the gall to charge you full-price for a less than perfect product.

6. Limited signage--Is there anything worse than driving around aimlessly trying to find the next hole on a long and winding course. Hey course designers and owners, if you're going to put a few city blocks between greens and tees at least give us some easy-to-read signage. I've been on too many courses where the tiny signs are a joke and you end up with an unwanted tour of the course.

7. Getting a tee time directly behind a large group of boozing dubbers--We've all been there...You get an afternoon tee time behind a group that's totally focused on their pre-paid mulligans and "worst dressed golfer" awards. If you don't have the six hours to play behind one of these groups, I highly suggest you head back to your car, throw your clubs in the trunk, and get the heck out of there.

8. Hackers hitting from the championship tees--Is there anything better than watching Harry Hacker go to the back tees on a 490-yard par 4 and dribble his tee shot barely past the forward tees?  When, oh when, will people (who rarely play) tee up from the correct tees for their skill level?

9. Bad service, tip-happy cart attendants--These are the guys that run up to your cart after a round and say: "Can I clean your clubs, sir?" They proceed to do a half-ass job and are more interested in the green coming from your pocket than the dirt on your clubs.

10. Worthless course rangers--This is the guy who rarely does anything to speed up agonizingly slow players. He simply can't seem to comprehend the concept that a foursome of super slow players is ruining the golf experience for several other foursomes. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

On Location: The Dunvegan Hotel Golfer's Corner Lounge Bar in St. Andrews, Scotland

The ambience is a unique combination of a traditional Scottish pub, college bar and Texas roadhouse.

I've been extremely fortunate to have enjoyed a pint or two and lunch at the Golfer's Corner Lounge Bar at the Dunvegan Hotel in the village of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Dubbed "The Dunny" by locals, the bar is set just 112 yards from the 18th green of the Old Course, this warm and welcoming pub is a must stop if you're teeing up anywhere in the area.

The owners are Jack and Sheena Willoughby, a married couple who know a little bit about pubs and roadhouses. Jack, a fourth generation Texan from Liberty, Texas, is a former salesman for a Houston drilling equipment company. Sheena hails from Forfar in the county of Angus in Scotland. They acquired the Dunvegan Hotel in 1994.

My most recent visit was during Ryder Cup 2014 week. On the Tuesday before the matches at Gleneagles, I took a train from Edinburgh. 

Following some sightseeing, I sat on the steps overlooking the 18th green and first tee watching the moveable feast of golfers playing the Old Course. If Disney is the "happiest place on earth" for kids, make no mistake, the Old Course is the same for devoted golfers.

A couple of hours later (one can only watch so many bad tee shots on the opening hole and long putts racing by the hole on No. 18 green) I headed to the Dunvegan Hotel for a frosty one.

I sauntered up the bar, took a seat, and ordered a Tenants.

The guy drinking next to me was a caddie at the Old Course.

For the next hour or so, Bruce, a looper for more than three decades at golf's most legendary course, detailed great stories about nervous Americans dribbling tee shots, big tippers and celebrities.

Lots of caddies hang out at "The Dunny" and I learned from the bartender that Bruce was one of their best regulars. In fact, they start pouring his pint the instant they see him walking by the large window on Golf Place street from the Old Course.


The walls and ceiling are covered with more than 150 prints chronicling the Open Championship and countless photos of celebrity golfers and as well as regular customers who love the place. Among the celebs with pictures on the wall are LPGA star Paula Creamer and basketball coach icon Bobby Knight.

There are also five flat screen televisions positioned strategically so you can watch sports events in between sips.


The menu is eclectic with local favorites like fish n' chips and steak pie and American classics like chili, nachos, chicken wings and burgers. My favorite is the fish n' chips, which are made from fresh fish that's delivered every morning.

If you've just played golf on a cold, windy, rainy day and you need something warm to lift your spirits, order the bowl of chili, which is prepared in a classic American style.

Whether you sauntered into "The Dunny" to celebrate the greatest round of your life or you want to drown your sorrows after countless three putts, you'll find lots of beers, ales, spirits and more than 50 whiskies to do the job. 


There are thousands of pubs in Scotland, but only one "Dunny". The unique background of the owners and their desire to incorporate both Scottish and Texas influences makes this place a must stop on your visit to St. Andrews.