The Independent Golfer

Monthly Offering on Scotland Golf
adapted from
The Independent Golfer's Guide to the
Highlands and Islands of Scotland

by Willis Copeland

Scotland Golf at Royal Dornoch

The Struie course has always been the little sister and alternative-if-you-can’t-get-on to the Championship course at Royal Dornoch. But in the Spring of 2003 a substantial renovation was opened, including the rerouting of many of the existing holes, replacement of some old greens and, most importantly, the addition of five completely new holes. The Struie course may always be the Championship course’s little sister, but she has now blossomed into mature womanhood as a course worthy of considerable respect in her own right.

The Independent Golfer's Guide to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland

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Caddienotes for Golf Courses in Scotland


"Competition and Par on
Scotland Golf Courses "


... on the issue, and you would be well-advised to pay attention to Norman’s views on golf. He is a Past-Secretary of the Kingussie Golf Club, having served in that capacity for many years. But more, Norman has won the Club Championship of Kingussie a remarkable thirteen times, a feat seldom achieved by any golfer at any club in the Highlands and Islands. Finally, Norman also holds the Kingussie course record of 7 under par 60, his scorecard still prominently displayed in the clubhouse’s trophy case. When the conversation is about golf, Norman knows what he is talking about.

We often hear that a virtue of the game of golf is that “you are competing against yourself.” It is true that, psychological issues aside, there is nothing that one competitor in a golf match can do to influence the play of another competitor. But, given the changing conditions typical of a day on a Scottish course, Norman maintains that it is difficult to gauge how well you are playing if you only measure yourself against par. A three on a short par-3 buffeted by a vicious cross wind is not just reasonably good play, it is a major victory, as is a five on a long par-4 played up hill against the wind.

Norman suggests that the best measure of your play on any given day is to compare it not to par but to the play of another who is playing right along beside you, facing the same weather conditions and feeling the same pressures. Norman goes so far as to suggest that the whole idea of par might be “redundant.” (Redundant is a label used in Great Britain for anything that has lost its usefulness. Scotland has many old church buildings that, as attendance dwindled in recent years, have been declared “redundant” and were closed to save money. Workers whose jobs become unnecessary to the company because of automation or outsourcing are declared “redundant” and are let go.)

For Norman, the idea of “par” has very little usefulness. I think that is why Scot golfers are always so eager to whomp up a friendly match, even with strangers and nothing on the line. They are not so much competing against each other as they are setting up a way to measure their own play, not against par but against an outside index that is sensitive to the conditions of play on that day.


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