Chip Shots: A tale about Scotland

Hangman’s Lane




Life without the need of a clock or calendar is a massive change to the way I have lived for the greater part of the last five decades. My daily routine just isn’t the same.

A recent piece of correspondence from the airlines congratulated me on flying over 2 million miles. Almost all of those miles were the result of covering golf tournaments all over the globe. As I digested the information, it didn’t really seem to be such a great accomplishment, but then I did the math and realized that it is the equivalent of going around the world 74 times.

Without new golf events taking place, I have been reflecting on some of the more memorable ones from years gone by.

The first is one about my visit to Hangman’s Lane. I was on the way to cover the 2000 Open Championship at St. Andrews and my excitement level was at an all-time high, as it was to be the first Open Championship Tiger Woods would compete over the famed Old Course.

I was to get to Edinburgh, Scotland, and meet up with three fellow media members, one being Jack Nicklaus’ right-hand man, Scott Tolley. The plan was to meet up in Edinburgh, rent a car, and drive a little west to play at the famed North Berwick Golf Course, have a little dinner, then drive to St. Andrews. A full day of golf-buddy activity all planned out and ready to enjoy.

The weather was great that day, and all four of us played fairly well. Following our round, we enjoyed a lovely dinner in a local Scottish pub. Next up was what turned out to be a lengthy drive to St Andrews, with an unwanted visit to Hangman’s Lane.

The journey North to St. Andrews was full of good-natured banter about the wonderful course we played that day, who played well, and who didn’t. But the mood changed drastically when we came upon a police car in the middle of the road stopping traffic as we approached the Firth of Forth Bridge outside Edinburgh. At this point, we were less than 40 miles from St. Andrews, tired and eager to finish our marathon day of travel.

We all got out of the car to see what was going on and why the road was blocked. The officer said the bridge was closed because someone was threatening to jump.

As we finally got back on track, I was relieved to see a sign indicating “St. Andrews, 10 miles,” but I also noticed that our buddy who was driving was having trouble fighting off sleep. Of course, you can probably guess what happened next. Yes, he did nod off, the car hit the curb, spun around before finally coming to rest, and we realized we were awfully close to buying the ranch. I managed to stumble out of the car only to look up at the sign post, which told me I was on Hangman’s Lane.

It was almost 5 AM and there was plenty of early morning mist in the air. The car was severely damaged and certainly not drivable. Then, as I stood out on this tiny two-lane country road next to the battered car, I saw a building with some lights on not far away. I staggered to the building only to discover it was a local dairy getting ready to deliver milk to St. Andrews. Luckily, they agreed to help us.

So, can you imagine the scene? Four “esteemed” golf journalists delivered to cover The Open Championship at the home of golf on the back of a milk truck complete with golf clubs and luggage and so happy our visit to Hangman’s Lane was not worse. Oh yes, Tiger did win.

bobvoiceofgolf@gmail.com