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Winning the Trip of a Lifetime

Mike McCabe, Director of Golf at Bridlewood Golf Club Shares his Memorable Experiences in Scotland.

In 2007, Titleist created a promotion to coincide with the launch of the new NXT Tour and NXT Extreme golf balls. Titleist awarded 5 all-expense-paid golf expeditions for two to Scotland for the shop owners, golf professionals and merchandisers who created the most creative and effective shop displays for NXT Tour and NXT Extreme. One of the winners of this promotion was the golf shop team of Bridlewood Golf Club, near Dallas. Mike McCabe, Director of Golf at Bridlewood, recently returned from his trip with a great story and some lasting memories. Following is an account from Mike:

We were notified around Christmastime in 2007 that our team's NXT display at Bridlewood Golf Club had been chosen as one of the winning displays. What a Christmas present! Words can't describe the trip that the Titleist family put together for us. The package included air travel, golf at the finest courses in Scotland and 5-star accommodations and dining. Every detail was planned and executed by Haversham & Baker Golfing Expeditions. They set the tone for the entire trip and did a wonderful job preparing us for the new experiences that awaited.

It was my first trip to Scotland and choosing a travelling companion was a no-brainer. I invited my Dad, Dale, who is a strong 5-handicapper and who also has never been to Great Britain. It's something I will never forget. You can't put a price tag on the bonding my Dad and I shared at the home of golf! Our first day in Scotland we played the New Course at St Andrews. The oldest "new" course in the world opened in 1895. It was built in response to the increased demand from locals and from visitors who were now flocking to the town on the recently constructed railroad.

The first thing that struck me about the course was the proximity of the holes. Generally, you only have to walk a few paces from the green and you're on the next teeing ground. This fact added to the experience I was about to enjoy on the ninth hole. There was a bit of a wait on the ninth, which was no hardship. We took a few moments to take a few photos and enjoy the natural beauty of the ocean bordering the left side of the hole. We noticed that the group ahead had advanced a few yards off the green and onto the tenth tee. I had the honor. The ninth is a 226-yard Par-3 that rises uphill into the dunes. The green is obscured by the hill fronting it, so you aim for the pin and hope for the best. I teed up my Titleist Pro V1 (number 7) and hit a 906F4 5-metal. I hit the shot well and Dad immediately said that it looked good as it headed in-line with the pin. As the shot descended, we lost sight of it over the hill. I bent down to get my tee and hoped that I might have a reasonable putt for birdie. But then the players in the group on the tenth tee started jumping up and down and celebrating. They had a much better view of the shot and witnessed my ball going into the cup. What a place for my first hole-in-one!

After our round at the New course we were just getting warmed up, so Dad and I decided to play the Jubilee Course. St Andrews Jubilee golf course celebrated its centenary in 1997, and in that time it has developed from a simple twelve hole layout to what many consider the toughest golf course at St Andrews. Situated between the St Andrews New Course and the sea, it was originally a beginners and ladies' 12-hole course, opened for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria's accession to the throne. Thus the name. The St Andrews Jubilee Course was upgraded to 18 holes in 1905, and later re-designed in 1988 to bring the golf course up to championship standard. Dad and I carried our own clubs that day and couldn't get over the experience. Amazing to walk on that hallowed ground.

The next day we played the Old Course. I have never been as nervous in my life on the first tee as I was that morning. I don't think my feet ever touched the ground the entire day. The Old Course was definitely the highlight of the trip. It's not so much the beauty or difficulty of the course. I think it's just all the ghosts that are walking those fairways. I imagined the six centuries of golf played right where I was now playing. And I thought of all the great champions and golf legends throughout history who had stood where I was now standing. I could have shot 100 and been just as happy. Our caddies were wonderful (and indispensible). Without them you wouldn't know where to hit the ball and you'd never find it once you did. In the back of my mind I had been waiting for the 17th hole all round long. When we got there I was amazed. The hotel is right on top you, maybe 50 feet away at the most. You get the feeling that one little flinch and it's crashing through a window and rattling around someone's soup bowl. I started it left and played a big cut, just like my caddie advised.

The next day we were off the Kingsbarns which I have to say is the most scenic and beautiful course I have ever played. The following two days found us at Turnberry, the site of the hardest course I have ever played. Not too bad. In one trip I played the most awe-inspiring course I have ever been on, the most beautiful course I have ever been on and the most difficult course I have ever been on. I have to say, if you have a father who is an avid golfer you need to make the trip to Scotland together. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I can't thank the great people at Titleist enough for making a dream come true for us.

Mike McCabe



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