Tee Time with Tommy
St. Andrews Clubhouse and Swilcan Burn Bridge

I thought for this issue I would take a break from golf instruction and share with you my experiences when my son Tommy and I played in the International Father and Son Golf Tournament in St. Andrews Scotland.

Our trip started in Atlanta. Upon arriving in London, we found out that there were no connecting flights to Edinburgh that day and had to spend the night in London.  

We were really frustrated, as there were pre-tournament festivities and practice rounds going on that we were not able to attend.  

 Time was now running short as our tee time, for the first round of the tournament was 12:20 P.M. and we were still at London Heathrow Airport at 8:00 AM with no flight.

I called St. Andrews and told the tournament officials of my plight.  They called someone at British Midlands Airways and somehow got us a flight to Edinburgh.  We landed at 10:30 A.M., still an hour-and-a-half from St. Andrews.  

Fortunately, the tournament sponsors had a limousine waiting at the airport to speed us to St. Andrews.  We arrived at our hotel at noon, 20 minutes from our tee time.  After leaving our bags at the door of the hotel to be taken to our room, we were whisked to the first tee at 12:15.  Five minutes before our tee time.  

We were tired, jet-lagged, and in a state of semi-shock, looking at all the Fathers and Sons rested and well-prepared for the tournament.  On top of it, we missed two practice rounds.

This is where things start to get better.  We were introduced to our caddies, Dod and Kevin.  What great fellows!  They’ve caddied for the likes of Palmer and Watson and are two of the finest caddies at St. Andrews.  They calmed us down and told us that nothing less than winning the championship will do.

This round was played on the famous St. Andrews Jubilee course and Tommy and I, with the help of the caddies, started reeling off birdies and finished the round with a best ball score of 8 under par.  This gave us a one-shot lead over teams from Malaysia and Canada.  Obviously, we were thrilled to be in this position considering what we had been through.  Our caddies were very proud of us and escorted us to Dunvegan’s Pub just up the street from the course to celebrate our good start.

After a good night’s rest at the Rusacks Hotel, we were ready for the second round on the New Course at St. Andrews.  We were pretty calm until we were announced on the first tee as the tournament leaders.  The gallery was fairly large, consisting mainly of the townspeople from St. Andrews, who have watched many great competitions.  This made us a little nervous, but Dod and Kevin came to the rescue and got our minds back on playing the course and forgetting everything else.  The round progressed nicely with Tommy and I helping each other out whenever either was in trouble. 

We got pretty hot and finished at 7 under par for the day and a two-day total of 15 under and a two-shot lead.  We were now feeling like we could win this thing and starting believing what our caddies had planned for us.

The last day dawned beautiful for St. Andrews in April.  Partly cloudy skies and a temperature of 65 degrees by our 1:00 P.M. tee time.  Today we were playing the most famous course in the world, The Old Course.  We were paired in the final group with the Father and Son team from Japan, who were in second place two shots back of us.  These guys were serious.  Not much conversation and you could tell they were determined to give us a run for our money.  The son hit the ball very, very far, but I noticed he could not hit it low.  Everything was high and far.  

My caddie informed me that the winds would pick up in the afternoon and this would come back to haunt him.  How right he was.  They started out very well and Tommy and I slipped a little.  By the fourth hole they had made up the two-shot deficit and were high fiving each other all over the place and talking a lot in Japanese.  Lord knows what they were saying.  

It was at this time Dod pulls us over to the side and informs us he and Kevin have a lot of money bet on us and we better not lose.  Just what we need...more pressure.  He calmed us down and told us to keep playing our game and things would go our way because the wind was picking up and our ability for the both of us to hit low shots would be the difference.  

How right he was.  Our competitors stayed even for the next two or three holes and then Tommy and I birdied  five of the next six holes, capping it with a birdie by Tommy at the famous Road Hole, #17.  The lead was all of a sudden five shots as the Japanese team was getting blown all over the Old Course as the winds picked up.  By now they weren’t saying much to each other or us as their chances slipped away. 

All I can say is our caddies had big smiles on their faces as we approached the last hole of the tournament.  Tommy was so pumped he cranked a 318-yard drive on the last hole into the Valley of Sin in front of the green…about 45 yards past me.  We birdied the last hole and looked up at the scoreboard and realized we had finished with a five-shot victory. 

After congratulations and hugs from our caddies and insincere handshakes from the Japanese team, Tommy and I had our own hug and breathed a sigh of relief.  I personally was beat and just wanted to go across the street to our hotel and rest before the prize banquet that night. 

Dod and Kevin would have none of this and informed us we were going to celebrate our victory first with them. Next thing I know they are walking up the street with our clubs on their shoulders and heading to guess where?  Dunvegan’s Pub.  To make a long story short, we spent the next two hours celebrating with them and all the other caddies at St. Andrews, listening to wonderful golf stories.  

The banquet was that night at the St. Andrews Clubhouse.  Tommy and I were presented with the trophy that will stay forever at St. Andrews in the trophy case with our names engraved on it. 

At the banquet, the master of ceremonies brought up an interesting point.  He mentioned the most famous father and son duo at St. Andrews was Old and Young Tom Morris and the winners of this inaugural Father & Son Tournament was Old and Young Tom Chillemi. 

Please keep me in mind if you are interested in a golf trip to Ireland or Scotland.  I have access to all the courses including guaranteed times on the Old Course.  I have been arranging these now for 15 years.  My trip prices are guaranteed less than you can find anywhere.