Royal Birkdale Ladies British Open

After finishing three, three, three, and missing a ten footer for three on the eighteenth hole of the toughest finishing holes in the British Open Rota it was off to Royal Birkdale in Southport, England. The old Victorian seaside resort was about a six hour relaxing countryside drive from Carnoustie. I caught the tournament office closing down and they helped with accommodations for the night. In England it’s either a high priced hotel or a comfortable rather cheap B&B. The first night was a hotel and the rest of the week I bounced around the B&B’s for 25 to 40 pounds per night, including breakfast and lukewarm water in the shower.

Carnoustie and Royal Birkdale are simply delightful to play and caddie. Everything is right in front of you and disaster lurks on every hole. You have to think your way around the pot bunkers and length is a definite advantage. Misun’s length really hindered our scoring ability but she battled through a hip injury and had her chances on Friday. The only hills you find at Birkdale are the gorse covered dunes lining the fairways making it difficult for spectators but an easy walk for us.

The damp, cold air took its toll on my hip the first few days but the European PGA doctor prescribed some Voltaran Tuesday afternoon making my stroll much easier the rest of the week. I’m not sure why Southport is a vacation area; we lived in our rain suits all week and the fifty degree weather didn’t draw many folks to the beach but they did come to the golf course in droves. Brollies (umbrellas), rain gear, thermoses full of private stock, and maybe a pint or two reinforced the large crowds following the marquee groups. They train station next to the course was busy all week.

The English love their golf, breakfast, tea, and ales. The golf is a delight despite the weather, the breakfast with beans, runny eggs, four types of meat, blood pudding in Scotland takes a bit to get used too, and the tea was great before bedtime. The ales, served at basement temperature, need some acquaintance time but I managed to down a couple after the long days on the course. Every ale has its own special glass design; you see all shapes and sizes sitting on the bar at a large ale house.
We didn’t tee off until 3:06 Thursday afternoon and started rough with a couple of early bogies.

Birkdale has the toughest first two par fours I’ve ever seen and getting through them in nine shots is an accomplishment. We managed but found a few disasters later and kept them under control with some great putting plus a new found tool around the green. In Toledo I introduced Misun to the rescue club for chipping purposes and after practicing a few days she became an old master. It saved us at least three or four shots Thursday and Friday.

You start with the difficult holes at Birkdale and get your birdies coming home. Three out of the last four holes are par fives and you hang on till you get there. We were six over going into fifteen and my little girl finished with four fours for a three over day, not bad for her very first major. It was getting dark; we hit a few practice putts then headed for dinner. I almost didn’t finish my bangers (sausage) with mash (mashed potatoes and peas) and second pint of dark ale before falling asleep at the table. The wind and cold really took a toll on everyone, luckily we weren’t teeing off till 10:22 Friday.

The cut was looking like five or six over and our chances were good but the putts didn’t fall Friday. We were three over for the round with four to play, feeling good about gathering a birdie or two coming in but nothing dropped. Four consecutive legitimate birdie putts grazed the edge or came up a ball short leaving us one shot over the cut line and very disappointed. We waited awhile hoping anxiously for a miracle or two which might let us play the weekend but we missed.

I’d rather miss a cut by ten then one because there’s always a lot of “what ifs” running through your mind. Her first major was a respectable showing but playing on the weekend is the goal. Making the cut would have made the trip profitable for both of us but instead we scrambled to get an earlier flight home. Instead of heading back to Glasgow I managed a long two stop flight from Manchester to Chicago Sunday morning and I’m still suffering from jet lag.

It’s off to Blaine, MN this week with Jim Roy and the Champions Tour. I’ll hook up with Misun in Portland later this month.


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