When you read these words, I will be arriving in Glasgow, Scotland, as part of a delegation of intrepid Bainbridge Island golfers bound for the historic links of the Kintyre Peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. We’re going to Scotland to golf and, time permitting, to pay a visit to some of Scotland’s oldest and most sampling-friendly distilleries.
I’m also hoping to have time to kiss the Blarney Stone, climb the Eiffel Tower, check out artwork in the Vatican and drive on the Autobahn, all of which I assume will be within a short drive of our home base in Machrihanish.
Despite my loose grasp of European geography, this is not my first trip to Scotland. It’s more like my fifth trip. Unlike my previous trips, however, this time I’ll be flying there alone. In order to save a little money on the flight, I booked early and passed up the first class, business class and coach seating and instead got myself a middle seat in the assistant coach section.
I’m not a big fan of flying, and I believe we have to cross an ocean or two to get to Scotland, so this trip I’ll once again be packing my own life vest. (If airline seats are such great flotation devices, why don’t you ever see anyone take one to the beach?) I’ll pass the nine-hour flight time by practicing my Scottish accent and listening to the plane’s engines to be sure they are running smoothly.
So that I can make the most of my time in Scotland, I’ve once again boned up on Scottish history and culture. My rigorous preparation included watching the Mel Gibson movie “Braveheart” three times, listening to the Battlefield Band’s version of “Da Merrie Boys O’ Ballyshannon” until I could understand 40 percent of the lyrics, and spending nearly half an hour on Wikipedia.
I’m confident my total immersion approach to Scottish history and culture will pay off. For example, I now know that Scottish men all wear kilts, have red beards and will toss a caper at you if provoked. But that’s OK, I like capers. I also ken that Scottish women are almost all named Bonnie and liked to be called “lassies,” and that haggis is best served when both it and the consumer are copiously lubricated with a fine single malt.
To get to Scotland, or, more precisely, in order to get back out of Scotland, I’ll need to produce my passport. I got my passport renewed early in the COVID pandemic when I was in the middle of a trial separation from my shaving kit and comb. Consequently, my passport picture makes me look like the illegitimate child of Boris Johnson and Charles Manson.
It may surprise anyone who has seen me play golf that my game is worthy of taking it on the road, particularly on the road to the country where golf was invented. The truth is, I don’t have such a particularly good golf game. I’m always more likely to shoot my weight than I am to shoot my age. But the opportunity to play golf in Scotland in the company of such an august and distinguished bogey of golfers was impossible to pass up.
Also, at least one mature adult presence on the trip seemed called for, and I’m happy to assume responsibility for finding one.
In preparation for the actual golfing component of the trip, I’ve logged nearly three rounds of golf over the past six months, and spent nearly a half hour on the driving range the other day, so I think my game is pretty much as Scotland-ready as it’s ever likely to be.
I’ve also accumulated some essential golf paraphernalia, such as a currency converter to see exactly how much money I’m losing during each round, and a putter with a built-in metric display to help me calculate just how many centimeters short to leave my fourth putt.
I also bought a new pair of rain pants. My previous pair fit me nicely but seemed to attract and soak up rain rather than repel it. The weather in Scotland in mid-to-late September can be a bit on the wet and windy side, much like Seattle summers.
Naturally, I have a plaid wool golf cap and plaid golf towel to hang on my head and golf bag, respectively, so that I won’t look too much like a tourist. Unless one of my traveling companions commits a major social or cultural faux pas and we all get locked up in the Bastille or sent to the Black Hole of Calcutta, we should be back on American soil before the end of September. Until then, as they say in Glasgow: Aloha, and Vaya Con Dios!
Tom Tyner writes a weekly humor column for this newspaper.