Stavanger Invitational
North of Scotland
29/8-3/9 2014

Scottish by birth
British by law
Highlander by the Grace of God.
This is my country
The land that begat me
These windy places
Are surely my own.......
It took 2 Norwegians to show George parts of his country he had never seen.
After the last putts were sunk at St Andrews ,end July,it was disappointing that the next DOGGS shots should only be hit one month later, however at the same location.
George was raring to go having missed the Scan  Masters and Season Opener and Harald obliged by crossing the Atlantic ahead of the Stavanger Invitational.Luckily an  unpronouncable Icelandic volcano was only rumbling instead of ejaculating(a bit like us) and no delays were incurred.
On August 28th the twosome had a pleasant round on the New Course at St Andrews in delightful conditions.
GFD  34 pts
HL     29 pts
An early start the next morning got our Chairman and Scan Masters winner up to Aberdeen(the capital of the European Energy Business) to assemble with Steinar and Trond Mc Rese for the start of 6 marvellous days of competitve, serious golf and lots of good food,wine and whisky.The trip commenced with a short hop over to Lossiemouth,the birthplace of Ramsay MacDonald,the first Labour Prime Minister.Unfortunately no time was available,as usual,for a cultural detour.
Moray Old Course was established in 1889 and Old Tom Morris was given the task of laying out the links course.At 6228 yards(par 70) it is no monster ,but a good test of golf.We were lucky that we had a calm  and sunny day for our visit.Nearby RAF Kinloss(which now houses the Leuchars fleet) created a few diversions as low flying crafts zoomed over our heads.Our Chairman made his intentions clear with a strong round and Trond,who was hitting his tee-shots a mile,had hoped his iron play had been sharper. 
GFD  35 pts
TR     27
HL     26
ST     26
After being suitably feasted and rested,we headed further North, with a forced deviation to the Glenmorangie Distillery at Tain,before meandering up to our HQ for the next 3 nights.
The Royal Marine Hotel at Brora,the home of the James Braid Society,offered excellent, friendly accomodation.Brora Golf Club,probably the most northerly classic links course in the UK was laid out by Mr Braid(Jimmy to his friends and Harald) on a piece of seaside land ,which God created with a golf course in mind.A traditional 9 holes out and 9 back always brings the sea breeze into play,at some point, and we were not disappointed.The course is still blessed with old and new greenkeeping skills.The sharp teeth of the sheep assist the 1920's lawnmowers and the electric wire around the greens keeps the wooly ones at bay.Care needs to be taken when crossing the wire......a little electric shock in the wrong spot,although quite pleasant,can be disconcerting prior to a 3 foot putt.
The prevaling wind makes the par 70 over 6000yds an interesting challenge.
Steinar,with other things on his mind ,had a bad day,while the others were all all about the same,although their scores were achieved in very different manners.
GFD   30 pts
TR      29
HL      29
ST      18
Day 3(August 31st),after a well earned rest,we ventured further North to within 4 degrees of the Arctic Circle to another Braid course at Golspie.The club recently celebrated it's 125 th Anniversary and gave us a warm welcome.Braid produced a classic test with 6 links holes,6 heathland and 6 parkland ,all within sight or sound of the North Sea.Our Chairman almost recorded DOGGS 2nd hole-in-one at the 10th hole and increased his lead further.Braid is famous for his bunkering and Par 3's and Golspie is a fine example of both of his skills.
Another glorious day and lunch at the Braid Restuarant gave us good memories.
GFD   32 pts
TR      31
HL      29
ST      20
It was now September and it was still 20 deg and sunny when we travelled south ,a few miles to Royal Dornoch.It is said that Viking warriors arrived here 600AD and drove the Picts and Gaels(Scots) in to the hills before settling and eventually intermarrying, before Christianity arrived in 1222.However,I don't believe they were responsible for golf being played on these links in the 16th Century.Dornoch GC was formed in 1877 and Old Tom laid out the course ,as it is today in 1886.The club gained Royal status in 1906,the 3rd such club to obtain same.
The famous golf course architect Donald Ross(Don to his friends and Harald) was born in the village and our  schedule did give us time to pass by.Ross is best known for his classic courses at Pinehurst,although he did finish 8th in the 1910 Open.His younger brother Alex won the 1907 US Open.
As expected the course was full of Americans,Europeans and a mottley group of English playing in kilts(the Made in Taiwan variety)
With long par 4's compensating for extremely interesting short par 3's the par 70 is quite a test from the yellow tees(6300yds).
Harald was lyrical about the course,classing it with Carnoustie as his favourite Scottish links, and this inspired him to an excellent round and reduced George's lead.Our Tour organisers from Stavanger made heavy weather of the day,donating a large amount of balls to the Scottish countryside.
The direction marker at the 4th hole is the statue,in the distance, of the Duke of Sutherland ,perched on Ben Bhraggie about 300 meters above sea level.The giant statue was erected in 1837 and towers 100 ft(30 mtrs).The statue was placed facing out to sea rather than over the land from which he had driven his tenants during the Highland Clearances.The infamous Duke,in the pocket of the Government (English) forced his people off the land to the coast or ,as it turned out,for the lucky ones,to the colonies to make way for sheep farming.This became known as The Clearances,a black mark in Scotland's history.He was never forgiven and many attempts to blow up the statue have been made.
Dornoch is also the place where the last burning of a witch took place in Britain.The unfortunate Janet Horne gave birth to a daughter who had feet resembling those of a horse and it was felt she had committed a dreadful act.The exection took place on ground where Dornoch has it's second course,The Struie.It was fresh when we arrived(not as cold as a witches tit however) but it soon warmed up as the opening drives split the fairway.
All participants agreed that this was one of the finest courses we have ever played......well worth the long drive north and another visit.
HL     32 pts
GFD  27
TR     14
ST     12
On the road back we made a slight detour to Dunrobin Castle ,the ancestral home of the Clan Sutherland,but for obvious reasons George refused to pay the GBP 10 entrance and was well supported by his Viking friends.We did however stop at Clynelish Distillery in Brora,but in a one street town,couldn't find the famous Railway Station,which Steinar was so keen to show.
And on Day 5 we were up and back south to the Black Isle. and to Fortrose and Rosemackrie G C founded in 1888 and redisigned by Mr Braid in 1932.This links course is situated on a narrow peninsula which streches in to the Moray Firth where dolfins spend their summer.......unfortunately none were visible during our visit.This Championship Course only plays 5600 yards(par 71) and is an interesting challenge as we played it in a stiff breeze,which effects every hole.Unfortunately the fairways were in bad condition.
The round was a cocktail of brilliance,luck and misfortune where all players had their share of each.
GFD   31 pts
ST      29
TR      28
HL      27
We didn't hang around and decided to make a short detour to Culloden,the site of the last battle on British soil.It was here in 1746 that the British Government forces of George II aided by many Lowland Scots put a bloody end to the Jacobite Uprising of Bonnie Prince Charlie Stuart.After gathering the Clans aided by French supporters of the Catholic Prince, at Glenfinnan in 1745 ,they marched as far as Derby on route to London,to claim the throne which they considered belonged to the Stuart family,before returning to Scotland.They were pursued by a vastly larger and superior British army and were confronted on Culloden Moor.The battle raged for only 45 minutes.4000 Clansmen were slaughtered for the loss of only 56 British soldiers.However no mercy was shown.All wounded were killed and the British force moved into Inverness and murdered many women and children ,before chasing the Highlanders into the hills.Prince Charlie eventually escaped to the Western Isles and on to France,never to return and try to claim his rightful place on the throne at Westminster.
A pleasant drive through the Grampian Mountains where Harald was very keen to deviate a few miles to Balmoral Castle,where Queen Elizabeth and her family were residing,for afternoon tea,was refused by Steinar ......Some compensation was given when we passed the Dewar's distillery and the staff came out to honour their best ever customer(before he discovered Famous Grouse).Steinar,the chauffuer,did however have time to drag us to the famous supermarket which stocks chicken breasts and the correct sized tonic water cans.After Trond had emptied the shelves of pork sausages ,we were again on our way to Grantown-on-Spey,the last stop on our whirlwind tour.
The local golf club was founded in 1890 and once again James Braid was called in to redesign it in 1921.This time he had the assistance of former Open Champion Willie Park.Robert Cruikshank (Bobby to Harald and his friends)a local hero,emigrated to the US that year and befriended countryman Tommy Armour.In the 1923 US Open ,Bob lost in a play-off to Bobby Jones.Nine years later Gene Sarazen also beat him in a play-off.He did however have 16 PGA titles to his name before he died in 1975 at his home in Delray Florida.
Since Messrs Braid and Park laid out the course,it has been tinkered with and today measures 5414 yards(par 70).Some spectacular views of the snow capped mountains kept us interested ,but a weak finishing 4 holes could use Jimmy's attention.Again we were blessed by beautiful sunshine and warm weather.
All competitors were able,at some stage on the course to take advantage of long drives and accurate approach shots.A nasty unknown Out of Bounds at the 15th cost Steinar dearly.
GFD   35 pts
HL      34
ST       32
TR       30.
This brought an end to the Stavanger Invitational and a marvellous few days in the North of Scotland in wonderful company.George was declared the worthy winner and looks forward to his prize(rumoured to be a long weekend in Namdal....assisting Kari in the hut painting...)
Trond was despatched at Aberdeen Airport for his flight to Stavanger and Bjorn arrived for the start of the next part of the adventure.....
Harald and George were very impressed with the arrangements,choice of venues,on and off the links, and thank Steinar and Trond for allowing them to join in.