I’d firstly like to thank all at BBM for giving me the fantastic opportunity to travel throughout the UK and to continue developing myself as both a golfer and a person. I am extremely grateful to have received such an award that has benefitted my life so much.
The planning for this trip started well in advance. Although I didn’t do it entirely on my own, I was able to get a very good insight into what it takes to organise an extended stay outside of my own country, including the booking of flights, accommodation as well as transport whilst on the ground. Communication with others making the same journey also helped to create a much less stressful environment once we got underway.
My first destination on my tour of the UK was London. Arriving in Heathrow on the 21st May, we were greeted first by customs, then by an hour train ride to the heart of the city. Walking around, I managed to get a spectacular view of the London Eye, Tower of London, Big Ben and the Thames River. It was at this moment it hit me that I was really on the other side of the planet. However, any emotions I felt were dumbed down by the jet lag I was experiencing following the flight in.
The next day we were scheduled to venture out to attend the BMW Championship that was being played at Wentworth Golf Club. Taxis were extremely expensive so our only real option was to walk to the train station for an hour ride through lush countryside and monotonous urban landscape to our stop, where we were able to get the full double decker bus experience as courtesy transport to the golf club. This was a great opportunity to watch some of the best golfers in the world compete and definitely solidified in my mind that is the profession I want to dedicate myself to.
Also whilst staying in the city we had a look at the British Museum and the M&M factory, both of which were also recommended destinations. Of everything that was different from back home, such as the old architecture and the accents of people in the area, food and drink was very similar.
On the 25th I boarded a flight into Edinburgh, where I was confronted with a lovely summer’s day; 11 degrees and pouring rain. Here we met up with the Victorian golf squad, where we drove the 2 hours out to the Premier Inn at Monifieth. Along the way was rolling countryside covered with grasses and blooming gorse that said welcome to Scotland.
The next day proved to be the first round of golf I’d play in the UK, at the old Royal Montrose Golf Club. The third oldest Royal golf club in the world, Montrose was a perfect introduction to links golf. The fast, hard conditions, wind and spectacular setting right on the shoreline was a taste of what was to come, as was the gorse which swallowed up plenty of my golf balls.
May 27 was my first glimpse of St Andrews, the home of golf. Entering the town you got a great sense of being somewhere truly historical. Stone walls lined the narrow roads leading down the hills and the cobblestone roads unlike anything I’d seen before, as well as all the old buildings that went for block after block. The real excitement began at the first sighting of the golf complex, which has 7 golf courses. Driving across the 1st and 18th fairways of the Old Course on the way to the New Course clubhouse had always been a dream of mine and it had finally come true. Being a little overwhelmed by where I was didn’t really help my golf as I played the Jubilee course, arguably the hardest course at St Andrews, however I couldn’t have walked off the last green more satisfied. Also having Euro fighters taking off constantly from the nearby airport added to the experience.
Another round of golf followed the next day against the Scottish National team, which ended prematurely due to torrential rain flooding the course. It was very disappointing not being able to finish a round around the Dukes Course. However I was able to meet some of the Scottish golfers that I would be competing against in the weeks to come.
Getting into the tournament mindset we arrived at the course for the Scottish Strokeplay Championship at Panmure Golf Club on the 29th, and were confronted by the tightest golf course I’d ever seen, with long, thick rough lining every fairway. For the next two days it was a battle for me on the links despite unusually perfect weather, losing just a few too many golf balls and missing the halfway cut.
Our next destination was just outside the heart of St Andrews at the Kittocks lodges, across the road from the famous Fairmont Hotel and only a short drive from the course. On the 2nd of June I finally set foot on the Old Course at St Andrews. It was almost a spiritual experience to be waling fairways filled with so much history and a place I had seen so many times on the television. Due to the extended amount of sunlight up there we were able to stay out on the course quite late. We also ate at the bar at Dunvegan, just across the road from the Old Course. A place filled with photos from floor to ceiling of all the famous people that have come through over the years, not to mention great food.
The following morning we woke up to windy, wet weather making our walk around the New Course at St Andrews a little tougher. However it all cleared in time for us to play yet another historic golf course at Ladybank. Some form was found here, giving me some confidence leading up to the St Andrews Links Trophy that was to start a few days later. We were able to take advantage of our cooking appliances when we got back that night for our first home cooked meal of the trip.
The next two days would consist of practice rounds at both the Old and New courses at St Andrews before the tournament got underway. Again I only just missed the halfway cut of the top 40 out of 144. The experience of playing competitive golf on these courses was completely worth it and a thrilling experience however well I played. As punishment for missing the cut I spent the next day exploring around town, and began to notice the hundreds of golf shops that line the streets. I also ventured into the Old Course Hotel which provided amazing views over all the courses and provided a great vantage point to watch the leading players finish their rounds.
After a day of rest, the group decided to go for a history lesson and journey out to Kingarrock Golf Club to play hickory golf. Using 19th century clubs and balls, we played on the grounds of an old manor house that belonged to the first chairman of the R&A. It was ridiculous how hard the game was to play with such old, almost primitive equipment giving me a new found respect for the great golfers that played through that period.
The last day spent in Scotland was spent playing arguably the hardest golf course in the country; Carnoustie. It lived up to its reputation on the day we played there, with high winds making the already difficult course brutal. A place I have seen before on the TV during British Opens, it was a thrill to play iconic holes such as the last, with the evil creek that runs in front of the green and the elegant clubhouse behind. The round was highlighted by a birdie on what some consider the hardest par 3 in the world, the 16th hole.
Flying on my first propeller plane, we arrived into Edinburgh on June 12. It was a long drive down to the coast to Portrush, the site of the British Amateur Championship. Driving over a hill on the way and seeing the coastal town spread out against the rugged cliffs and rolling dunes was breathtaking to say the least. The Averest B&B would be our home while we stayed in Portrush, situated right on the water with everything we needed close by. There were great pubs to eat at and great scenery, but the golf courses really stood out, winding through massive sand dunes right on the ocean. Portrush and Portstewart both had great facilities so all of us were able to get some great practice in before the tournament.
The courses played brutally hard over the days I participated, and rounds of 71 and 74 were enough to make it through to the preliminary round. I got knocked out the next morning but I was still ecstatic to have a good performance.
Since I was to stay in Ireland for the next few days and a number of us Australians missed the cut, we decided to go for a drive and explore a little bit. Not far from where we were staying were some very cool landmarks. Dunluce Castle was the first we came across, over 5 centuries ago and perched on the cliffs it was an incredible site, with educational information describing life centuries ago. Also on the list was the Giant’s Causway and a swing bridge spanning a chasm between the mainland and a rocky outcrop in the ocean. The raw landscape and the sheer cliffs were so different from every other place I’ve ever visited. Ireland has to be my favourite place to visit throughout the entire trip.
Flying out of Edinburgh, I left the UK behind to begin the US leg of my golf journey.
I would like to thank again all at BBM for the incredible experience I was able to have whilst in the UK. Not only was I able to see and experience first-hand a number of iconic landmarks, I was able to learn a lot about myself in the process. Organising such a big trip exposed me to dealing with airlines, hotels, motels and well as organising host families which was more prominent in the UK. Getting organised early made travel so smooth, I didn’t have any issues. Hoping to become a professional golfer in the future, a large portion of my lifestyle would include constant travel and this journey has taught me that organisation and good preparation can make everything easy. Playing these high level golf tournaments gave me a good indication of the level of golf that the best amateur players are reaching, and has inspired me to work harder on my game. This Award has taken me many steps closer to my dream of becoming a touring professional golfer.
Cameron DavisUpdate Your Details