Compete in the name of Old Tom, on what is the likely the most famous rediscovered course in the golf universe.
Quite frankly, thirty pounds Sterling doesn’t buy you a great deal these days.
OK, so Kindle are knocking out the entire works of Shakespeare for a pound. And you can probably buy the whole of Greece for a tenner. But, these undoubted bargains apart, thirty pounds doesn’t add up to much more than half a tank of petrol. Or a candle-lit dinner for one. True, it might buy you half a dozen go’s on Birmingham’s wonderful toll-road but that’s probably too much excitement for one lifetime.
But, assuming that you have any money left at all after our annual festival of excess, once known as Christmas, and you find yourself stooging round the house with thirty pounds burning a hole in your pocket, then Scotland has come up with a very good idea for you.
Scotland? Well, the Outer Hebrides, to be precise. Just about as far away from it all as you can possibly get, without actually flying to the moon. And, if getting away from it all means saying goodbye to technocrats, the Today programme and the prospect of Richard Branson becoming Governor of the Bank of England, then getting away from it all is much to be recommended.
And here’s the good idea: The Old Tom Open.
The 30th and 31st of March, 2012. A Stableford on Friday and the Open itself on Saturday. All in honour of the old boy himself, who first laid out the Askernish course back in 1871. Probably the most famous rediscovered course in the golfing universe. And almost certainly one of the best.
“Golf as it really used to be. Complete with cows and sheep.”
And, no doubt, all that goes with such creatures. But, as Ralph Thompson, Chairman of the Askernish club observes, not without a smile on his face, this is golf in the raw.
Thompson was a leading light in the restoration of Askernish to its former glory and, as such, he’s well placed to argue the case for the Old Tom Open. Yes, you can play with your 21st century clubs but how very tempting it will be to hire a set of hickories for the day.
“That’s when the ghosts return. Askernish was one of Old Tom’s finest courses and it’s now more or less exactly as he left it. There’s a wonderful sense of history here and the hickory game just seems a natural extension of that.”
And, while we’re talking about natural extensions, it’s worth pointing out that, once off the field of play, the Askernish Open golfer can look forward to all the fun of the fair, OK, so buffets and ceilidhs might sound just a tad predictable but, led by such folk as Thompson and the development manager, John Kemp, the good people of Askernish have turned having a good time into an art form. It’s what happens when you live in such places as the Outer Hebrides. You either jump into the sea or you make the best of it. And they make the very best of it.
And how much does it all cost? Well, we’re back to where we started. Thirty pounds. That’s it. The Scots aren’t famous for their generosity. Even their favourite son, Rabbie Burns, was a tax collector. But whatever the truth of that stereotype, they’re made from a different mould in the Western Isles.
Thirty pounds? It’s for nothing. And, if the ghosts really are returning, then you can bet the sixpence from your Christmas pudding that Old Tom will be at the head of the queue.