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Golf: Tom Watson’s Epiphany

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Stan Sutherland
Stan Sutherland

‘I didn’t like links golf,” he (Tom Watson) recalls. “I didn’t like St Andrews at all when I played it in ‘78 for the first time – blind shots, bouncing everywhere, having to land the ball short at six to try and feel the way up the slope there and get it in the flag position, just over the hill there. I didn’t like that,” reports Steve Carroll who has interesting stories to tell.

For instance and given I am very familiar with Tom’s thoughts on playing Royal Dornoch and as reported on their website.
‘Tom Watson headed North in 1981, the year after winning the third of five Open Championships at Muirfield. He arrived to play 18 holes, but had three rounds and ‘the most fun I’ve ever had on a golf course’.

What came as a surprise on Steve’s article was Tom’s comment on nearby Brora which five-time Open Champion, Peter Thomson has described as, “One of my favourite links is Brora on the Moray Firth, where the golfers share a precious piece of territory with a hundred or so woolly sheep. What could epitomise nature better than such a communion? I pray it will continue and last as long as the world.”

Tom had this to say, “The condition of all the courses we played were great but that day, when we played Brora, was my favourite day. We came back and ate dinner, at Dornoch.”

And the moral of the story is don’t forget to play Brora when going north to play Dornoch.

Now where was I with Steve’s 'I didn't like links golf – then I had an epiphany'?
Steve writes, ‘Royal Lytham & St Annes and Watson faltered with a closing 81, but the bug had finally bitten’.

And following that experience Tom says, “I had an epiphany at that time and said, ‘Watson, quit complaining. Play golf like you were a kid again.’ That was the biggest change in my mental focus – the way I thought about the game and how to play links golf.”

Link to Steve Carroll


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