Whether you want to take sentimental memory walk through a recent trip across the pond or help planning the trip of your life to the home of golf next summer, James Finegan’s “Scotland-Where Golf Is Great” belongs on your coffee table. This is the seminal work of the most informed American golf writer on the subject of golf in the British Isles.
Since his first visit in 1952 he has traveled the to Scotland over 30 times playing the great and the unknown courses across the length and breadth of the country. With his wife Harriet he spent a dozen summers renting a flat overlooking the splendor of St. Andrews and played the Old Course more than 100 times. A low single digit player he has developed a keen understanding of the nuances and pleasures of links golf in the old country and shares it with the rest of us in this fine book.
His writings herein on the golf courses, accommodations, and sights of interest in Scotland are second to none. The presentation is further embellished by the breathtaking golf course photography of Laurence Lambrecht (author of Emerald Gems) and the images of sights of interest by Tim Thompson.
Through his lens you can experience the uniqueness of the golf experience of over 90 courses in Scotland. Finegan takes you on a counterclockwise tour that begins at the Kingdom of Fife with St. Andrews and Carnoustie, meanders north to the gems of the Scottish Highlands from Cruden Bay to Royal Dornoch, back down the west coast to the remote island outposts of Machrihanish and Machrie, on to west coast treasures of Loch Lomand, Royal Troon, and Turnberry, and finishing with the East Lothian Coast home of North Berwick, Gullane, and the storied Muirfield Links.
From his pen:
The Old Course: “The most useful tip I can provide … is one you won’t get from a caddie..roughly 80% of the putts are straight, whether from 40 feet or 4 feet.”
Carnoustie: “Puts more pressure on the swing than any course in the British Isles….No
shot is a breather….this is the most confrontational golf course we will ever play.”
Cruden Bay: “Should on no account be missed..(standing) beside the clubhouse and looking down….. in all its turbulent splendor, lies one of the most awe-inspiring stretches of linksland ever dedicated to the game.”
Royal Dornoch: “We are consistently struck by such a wonderful sense of naturalness as we make our way around…everything simply looks as if it has been this way for centuries.”
Machrihanish: “The opening hole is…superior to just about every other 1st hole in the world…Our drive is fired on the diagonal across the Atlantic’s waves to an undulating fairway that skirts the shoreline…This is thrilling, tempting, tantalizing business…away we go on a round that will give us enormous pleasure not only as we play it but as we hark back to it again and again.”
Turnberry: “The next eight holes (starting at 4) are strung out like a necklace, along and above the sea. If there is any other links course where eight consecutive holes are able to produce challenge of this level and pleasure of this depth, I don’t know where it might be.”
North Berwick: “For pure golfing pleasure, a pleasure bred of diversity, challenge, unpredictability, proximity to the sea, and the satisfaction of true links shot making, few courses can equal North Berwick’s West Links. Is it a candidate for one course to play, day in and day out, for the rest of your life? Oh my, yes.”
An invaluable extra for trip planning, Finegan includes experienced recommendations of places to eat and places to stay. His reviews take you right down to what primo room to request and what delectable dish to order.
Your coffee table is beckoning for this one. If this book is within reach of your most comfortable reading chair you will find yourself leafing through it regularly to relive the grandeur and excitement of the links experience.
Scotland-Where Golf Is Great
James W. Finegan (2006/2010)