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The secret of shooting 10 shots lower!
If you’re trying to lower your golf score, I can reveal to you today an almost foolproof – actually I’d go as far as to say completely foolproof – method of taking 10 shots off what you usually shoot for 18 holes. And it doesn’t involve having to spend endless hours on the practice tee, taking expensive lessons from a swing guru, or buying books and magazines on golf instruction.
The secret to low scores was quite by chance leaked to me by an unlikely source – a fireman in Scotland. The gentleman in question, one Steff Gardner, habitually takes a week off during the annual Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – which I cover every year for Independent Newspapers – to drive Dunhill guests around between St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, the three great links courses on which the tournament is played. He is a member at Anstruther Golf Club, the Royal Burgh of Anstruther being an ancient and very lovely little fishing village close to St Andrews in the Kingdom of Fife. It also came out in conversation that he had been a multiple club champion at the nine-hole layout .
“You must be quite a golfer, so what’s your best score there?” I asked.
“Oh, 61,” he replied, almost casually.
“Sixty-one!” I exclaimed. “You sound like another Branden Grace (who blitzed Kingsbarns with a 60 on his way to winning the 2012 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, and last year became the first player in Major golf history to shoot 62).
“Well, no, it’s just that par for 18 holes at Anstruther is 62 and I was one under that day,” was Steff’s explanation.
And right there, of course, the secret was out. In South Africa and indeed all around the world the majority of courses tend to be around par-72, but in Scotland many little towns and villages have layouts (not mashie courses, you understand) with par in the 60s. Not surprisingly Anstruther is – at under 5000 yards – a lot shorter than the 7000-yarders many of us are used to.
So imagine if, for instance, you’re a seven handicap and have never come close to breaking 70. Well, now is your bts dropping and go seven over for the day and play to your handicap, you will be home in 69! Imagine your bragging rights after that.
“Yes, it’s possible,” agreed Steff. “But our wee course is not that easy, mind you. We have four par-4s and, unusually, five par-3s, three of them over 200 yards long and No 5 was voted a few years back the toughest par-3 in the UK. “It’s a delightful layout, founded in 1890 and stretching along the coastline with spectacular views out to sea. It’s kept in superb condition throughout the year and our restaurant – honestly – is one of the best you’ll find in Fife.”
Steff then told me that he feels golf tourists to Scotland, and especially Fife, miss out because they only go for the famous courses like St Andrews, Carnoustie, and Kingsbarns. “Look, I’m not knocking them, but they are over-crowded and I believe ridiculously over-priced.
“The real gems of Fife, in my opinion, are the lesser-known nine and 18-hole courses in the small towns and villages. I know of 25 within 25 miles of my home, all inexpensive and a joy to play. And because their pars are in the 60s, they give you a chance to shoot low, numbers-wise!”
So thanks, Steff. That’s actually two secrets. How we can knock 10 shots off our scores, and where to play to try and do this – and it won’t cost an arm and a leg – if we visit Scotland and the Kingdom of Fife in particular. All we need now is an air ticket. Interestingly, loyal Randpark member Dave Blain can identify with what Steff told me. Dave is a Scot who has lived in South Africa for many years but as a young man, when still residing in Scotland, and playing off a low single figure handicap, shot a course record 64 at the then nine-hole Pumpherston layout just outside Edinburgh. Okay he wasn’t eight under, because par at the time there was 64. So he was level par for the day. Still a superb round, though, and ever since he has been able to think back with fondness to the day when he shot 64, just like a Jack Nicklaus or an Arnold Palmer!
To repeat: All you need now is an air ticket – and bragging rights await!
Written by Randpark member – Grant Winter