From a young age I have been playing golf with my Dad. It is some of our most precious time together and no matter what is going on in life, our time on the course is always special. It was his 60th birthday last year and I decided that to celebrate we should play the course that opened on his 60th year, Dumbarnie Links.
With everything I had heard about the course and from my great conversation with the course designer, Clive Clarke, I knew this was where I wanted us to play this important round. I had told my dad about my chat with Clive and about how much had gone into creating the most talked about course in Scotland.
The day started with the drive from Glasgow to Fife. We chatted about life and the upcoming round. Silence fell on the car as we pulled into the gates of the club, both of us on high alert to try and catch a glimpse of the course. It was like we were looking for a lion while on safari.
You definitely can’t play golf on an empty stomach so the first point of call was to get our hands on the famous Dumbarnie burgers. After that we were ready to hit the range and loosen off for the round ahead. I was nervous because I had heard so many great things about the course and I really hoped that it would live up to my expectations.
We were greeted on the first by the starter, who like all of the staff on the day was just brilliant. Two piped drives down the generous first fairway and we were off and running. If anyone had been following us that day or listening in to our conversations, they would have got fed up with the constant praise we were heaping on the course, though it’s hard not to and it is well-deserved.
One of the best features of Dumbarnie Links is that you can’t see much of the course as you play it. The high dunes cocoon you into the hole that you’re playing so you can’t be distracted by the next hole and you feel like you have the whole course to yourself. This feeling of it just being us out there was perfect for such a special round with my Dad.
Then, as you walk from the green to the next tee, you emerge from the cocoon for the big reveal of the next hole. It is a feature of Dumbarnie that is very underrated in my opinion. We found ourselves left speechless by the hole ahead every time we reached a new tee.
The round was building like a crescendo, great hole followed great hole and our smiles grew larger and larger. Dumbarnie is golf as it should be. The holes are fun but still challenging. They don’t punish you too much either, though it strikes a great balance and is perfectly designed.
The last few holes were played in that glorious golden hour sunlight. The beautiful crumbly wall that adorns the 17th looked like a gold necklace draped over the hole and glistened in the sun. The course had gone quiet as the wildlife prepared to settle in for the night. This was as serene a moment as you get, father and son on a beautiful course bathed in the light of the setting sun.
There are some rounds of golf that I have played that get to live in the VIP section of the memory bank. This was certainly one of them and as we got to the 18th tee, it was a bit sad that it was coming to an end. We teed off down the last, I may have lost a ball with an errant tee shot to the left but nothing could take the smile from my face.
As we putted out, instead of the usual handshakes or coronavirus-friendly putter grip tap, we hugged and I told my Dad I loved him. I knew I was lucky to have this moment with him and I could feel that lump in the back of my throat as we walked away from the great course.
I still reflect on this round and how much I enjoyed discovering a tremendous new course with the man who sparked my love for the game. This is a golf course that everyone must play. I can’t guarantee that you will have just as special a day as my Dad and I had, but it's a glorious golf course. To all the staff that made our day so special, thank you.
Words - Kenny Pallas
Photography & Film - Graeme McCubbin/Jamie Darling