About me

Somewhere in Germany

There is a journey ahead. An inner and an outer one. The outer begins to evolve to a sharper form. A hike? Or rather: On the bike! Can I somehow make this more of my very own journey? Golf! But how does it work together?

The idea for this trip just popped into my head one day: Riding a bike in Scotland and playing golf on the way. I had already been to Scotland a number of times to play golf. But obviously this venture would be something very special and new. The first issue I tried to solve was to transport my golf clubs by bicycle. I knew immediately that I didn't want to use a trailer. I wanted to travel as compact and light as possible, even if this seemed somewhat absurd in this scenario. So I started some experiments on how I could attach my set of golf clubs to the bicycle. Finally, the solution was to fix the set as a very compact package with a tension belt. I just had to carry most of the weight over the rear wheel axis to keep the bike stable. On the picture below you can see the setup of one of my first tests. More or less this was the final solution, only some more bags for the front wheel were added.

While preparing the trip I did some prototyping trips in Germany to gather some experience with the setup.

The articles linked below are about the preparation phase of the trip.

South to south-west: Newcastle to Stranraer

The journey has actually begun. The nervousness and energy of the beginning becomes apparent. Everything is still unclear, everything is rather in the future. But I am right in the middle of it. What will happen and will anything happen? Everything is possible, but only little will become real. What do I really have to be prepared for and what do I just have to wait and see?

One day in August - a day I had been preparing for some time - it finally started: I was taken to the ferry near Amsterdam with my bike and all my luggage. When I rolled onto the ferry, I was quite nervous and concentrated on technical questions: How will it all work out? Is there a good place where I can park my bike? Will there be problems with the many cars on the ferry? In a nutshell: There was absolutely nothing that disturbed me at the beginning of my journey, everything went well. I left my bike with the most luggage in a special area for bike packers and just grabbed the bag with the essentials for the night. I went up to my small room with a round view and then entered the bar to celebrate my upcoming adventure with one of my favourite beers: Newcastle Brown. When I left the ferry the next day in Newcastle, the sun was shining brightly and I set off. The first short hour on the bike took me from the harbour to the train station. The first, but very short steep climbs had to be mastered, but everything went very smoothly. From Newcastle I wanted to take the train along the southern border of Scotland to Carlisle, where I wanted to start my actual bike tour.
The first night on a camping site was just around the corner. What a perfect environment: The campsite in Hoddom Castle had its own small 9-hole course. From there I drove to the southwest coast and played the first James Braid layout of many in Stranraer in the next weeks.

Many details and anecdotes of that period can be found in the articles below.

Up north: The West Coast to Fort William

I made my first experiences and despite some minor obstacles the ride just goes on and on. Obviously it doesn't just go forward. But also upwards and downwards. On the bike and with the clubs, literally and figuratively.

After the first days I got used to the heavy weight of the bike and to resting in a small but light tent. Actually I started to enjoy it more and more. I passed the beautiful (from a golfer's point of view) Ayr region, ignored a very famous course on the way and played on some less known courses, like Bellisle - again a James Braid layout - and Lochgreen Troon, a course where Jack Nicklaus qualified for his very first Open in 1962.
Then I took the ferry from Adrossan to Campeltown on Kintyre to reach one of the planned cornerstones of my trip: Machrihanish.
From then on, the trip started to become a real thrill, if you are into roller coasters. In the following days my route led me from Campbeltown via Lochgilphead to Oban. There I played the quirky and thematically suited up and down layout of Glencruitten. All in all, it was extremely exhausting - and pure fun. I rested for one night at the foot of Ben Nevis before travelling further east for a while.

You can read about these episodes of the journey in the following linked articles.

Zigzag northwest: Fort William to Durness

This is where I am furthest away from everything, temporally, locally and mentally. A man, his wheel and his golf clubs. Fixed camera position, like in a John Ford movie. No Monument Valley, but probably equally scenic.

Okay, first a confession: I chickened out of Applecross. I just couldn't convince myself that I wanted to carry all that heavy luggage over this pass. And actually, that's one of the few things I regret about this trip. I will come back and get this part as well someday. But nevertheless, the upcoming section was incredibly great. I drove along the south coast of Loch Ness to a very charming golf course, Fortrose & Rosemarkie. I played it in a little over two hours in the twilight of the day. From there I continued north to reach the next cornerstone: Durness. The drive along the NC500 was incredible. So many great views. But it was the general atmosphere that impressed me the most. It was kind of bizarre to travel this wide landscape by bike.

I came to Durness to play the small 9-hole course that was designed 30 years ago by some local enthusiasts. It was worth the trip. It is original in every way: the setting is spectacular, the design of the holes is well thought out and I guess I am not the only one who has had the pleasure of enjoying this little jewel more or less alone for a whole day.

More about that section of my trip in the following articles.

Back to the East: Durness to Lossiemouth

There is still so much ahead of me, but still: The way back has begun. Has anything happened yet? Is anything still to come? Or do I have to do another lap? In any case Vin Diesel is quoted. Is that nothing?

In Durness I just turned around and drove back. The road along the north coast of the Scottish mainland was surprisingly different in the opposite direction. I had the pleasure to visit one of my absolute favourite places again. Brora is a place I have played a couple of times, but the more often I play it, the more fun it is.  I played 36 holes without a break and it was a wonderful day. This time I left out the famous neighbour, Royal Dornoch. It just didn't feel right, but I will come back soon, I promise. Just before Inverness I had the only breakdown with my bike. I tried to fix it myself, but it only worked so far that I could reach the nice little town of Lossiemouth. There I found a competent mechanic. And the fine links of the Moray GC. I played there a few years ago on the Old Course, so this time I played the New Course. Which you should do, too. But interestingly, it was there that I decided to give golf a longer break after that trip.

Read about it in the following texts.

From now on it's just downhill: The east coast from Lossiemouth to Newcastle

In the end it still gets exhausting and surprises jump out of the bushes. I did not see that coming, e.g. the wind in different character roles. Is there a happy ending? Or a flat tire after all? Is Bobby Ewing really dead? Or did he just slip in the shower? The suspense continues.

This section of articles leads to the destination in Berwick-upon-Tweed. But there is still much to do. So far I was lucky that the wind did not hit me very hard. But on the way south along the east coast it stepped up. It became more difficult to overcome than the hilly terrain on the west coast. Between the golf meccas Carnoustie and St. Andrews I had a stage that I just couldn't finish. Luckily I had now got used to putting up my tent so that I managed it despite the strong breeze. I played some really nice places in this section: Fraserburgh, Montrose, Anstruther, the New Course in St. Andrews, the Glen and the West Links in North Berwick.

Especially the stay in St. Andrews was another and the last cornerstone I had planned in advance. Riding my bike over the path through the famous 1st and 18th fairway of the Old Course was something I had in mind when I planned this trip. The little 9-holer in Anstruther was also something special, as it is mentioned in the book by Andrew Greig, which was one of the inspirations for this trip. But a rare companion was with me: The Socket. So, I did not enjoy every hole I played in this last part and I remained sceptical about my future in golf. But in North Berwick I played a wonderful last round, which to a certain extent reconciled me with golf in general. After I finally arrived in Berwick-upon-Tweed, there was a minor crisis which somewhat upset my plans for the future. But in the end everything worked out. I enjoyed a few nice days with a friend who visited me in Edinburgh and then took the ferry from Newcastle.

What a fantastic journey that was.

 

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