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Today is October 4, 2022

Editorial

Scotland trip finally emptied my golfing bucket list, or so I thought

By Michael Callahan

Michael Callahan
Michael Callahan,
Executive Vice President/CEO
EPAs of Mississippi

In my mind, there are three “crown jewels” of golf courses. These are the courses I have always dreamed of playing, my bucket list of golf courses. They are Augusta National, where the Masters golf tournament is played; Pebble Beach, where several major tournaments have been played; and lastly, the place where golf began, the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland.
    In November 2003, with lots of planning and scheming, I was able to play Augusta.  While in San Francisco in July 2006, I was able to drive down and cross Pebble Beach off my list. It took less scheming, just a credit card and making sure I got the bill before my wife saw it.   
    That left only St. Andrews.
    We have a group that goes on a golf trip every year, and every year we talk about going to Scotland. During our 2012 outing I was coming off hip surgery, so I told the guys, “I’m falling apart and you guys are getting older.  We have to go to Scotland now, while we can still walk 18.”
    That’s all our fearless leader needed. Two months later we had recruited some other golfers, and on May 25 eight of us headed off to Scotland for the trip of a lifetime.
    We played seven rounds in seven days and walked all 18 holes. I even carried my own bag for six rounds, too cheap to hire a caddy. It was everything I had imagined it would be. The courses were beautiful, sitting by the sea carved by Mother Nature out of the natural landscape with not a tree to be found, and bunkers like pot holes that swallowed your ball—and you.  
    The weather was sunny and 63 degrees one day, 40 degrees with winds gusting to 40 mph and raining sideways the next.
    One of my most memorable moments was walking up the 18th fairway at the Old Course. We had our picture made on the bridge, just like Palmer and Nicklaus. I had a putt for par on the 18th green and would like to tell you I made it, but I didn’t. I tapped in for bogey and got a small applause from the crowds that gather around the 18th green to watch the players finish. 
    On the flight home I told my group that I was finished with golf. I had nothing left to accomplish; I had completed my holy trinity of courses and could not think of a better way to end my career. With the trip of a lifetime completed, I could hang up the clubs, no need to ever come back. They all laughed.
    Four days later, still jet lagged from the trip, my 16-year-old son comes to me with his St. Andrews hat, towel and ball marker and says, “Let’s go play 18.”
    Four hours later, I sink my par putt on the 18th green, thinking, why couldn’t I have done that at St. Andrews. As my son and I walk off the green, I have just shot an 82. He looks at me and says, “Dad, that’s as well as I’ve seen you play in two years. Where did that come from?”
    I shrug my shoulders and say, “Scotland inspired me.”
    As we get in the cart and drive to the clubhouse, my son asks, “So Dad, when are we going to Scotland?” 
    Looks like one more trip of a lifetime.

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