What a wonderful week in the birthplace of golf.
Ok, it rained much of the first two days. Ok, the food was mediocre. But the Ladybank Golf Course, site of the Scottish Boys tournament proved a provocative potion of elegant holes meandering through a gentle forest and framed by wild heather.
Sam was lucky and played his first round in the early morning sunshine. He shot a more than respectable 75. His buddy Dewi played in the afternoon braving a storm and struggled, ending up failing to make the cut. Sam improved the next day to a 73 and looked well positioned to challenge for the honors in the final day of 36 holes.
Instead, Sam stumbled. I went to play myself with Dewi at a local links course and left him to his own. When we returned, we saw the bad news – an 81, putting him out of contention. This included a triple bogey on the 18th. “I lost my concentration a bit,” he admitted afterward. In the fourth round, he fought back shooting a 74. But it was too late and he finished a disappointing 30th.
We took the time to visit Scottish universities. Sam fell in love with St. Andrews. The “Old Course” shined under a brilliant sunshine. I always knew the golf facilities were superb. What surprised me was how until recently the university offered few opportunities to talented golfers to pursue their passion. Golf was considered a mere hobby and top-ranked amateurs not encouraged to enroll. This is now changing – there’s a neat training facility and promising golfers are offered scholarships to play in elite amateur tournaments.
The University itself is impressive, more historic and more cosmopolitan than I could ever have imagined. A Chinese student gave us a tour. The campus is filled with medieval and modern buildings. Since I am beginning to fear that Sam is not quite good enough a golfer to be recruited in the United States, this looks like a good option. He loves the campus. Plus, its good academically in the subject he wants to study – geography. Best of all, the tuition is free for European Union citizens. Yes, get that – free!