Top 30 Photos of 2023

Alba, mo dhachaigh

1. The Sea Captain’s House at Dunaverty Rock

The glorious isolation and sweet silence of Southend, Scotland – only 50 yards from the 4th green at my home course; the magical links of Dunaverty.

2. Fin MacDonald’s boat at the Isle of Staffa

A few miles off the coast of Iona, Staffa is a one-off island inhabited only by puffins, seals and corncrakes. The bizarre, columnar rock formations were created by cooling of molten lava. Finlay brought us out on a rough day in the Atlantic, with the bravest 1st mate I’ve ever seen.

3. Descending from Mt Zion – the 11th at Dunaverty

I went out by myself at 6 am and played 13 holes on my last morning in Southend in August. My walk was rewarded with preternatural quiet and views only to be found early in the morning in Scotland. A herd of deer waited for me at the 13th green to say goodbye on behalf of the club. The green on the brilliant 8th hole sits just behind the 11th.

4. The putting green at Prestwick GC

The club allowed me to go off first with my old friend Chris McBride before the Member’s Foursomes – one of the great honors of my life in golf. We went around in just over 3 hours and never felt rushed – with Chris giving me history lessons the whole way. Pars on Cardinal, the Alps and the impossible 10th were just a bonus. It wouldn’t have mattered if I had shot 120.

5. Greg McCrae from the beach on the 12th at Brodick, Isle of Arran

I finally remedied a long standing gap in my tuition – a round at lovely Brodick GC with my good friend Greg and his Dad, Bob. We all played reasonably well on a perfectly clear, bluebird day. Brodick revealed itself to be pure Scottish golf fun. I hope to return and play with these two gentleman again.

6. Tron Carter and Greg McCrae in the Corrie clubhouse, Isle of Arran

Corrie is one of my favorite places in the world. After a wonderful 9 hole match, including the brilliant golfing greenskeeper Ewan McKinnon, we retired to the perfect wee Victorian clubhouse. It was as you would expect – all dark, weathered wood and old trophies. We sat for an hour and talked. Nobody wanted to leave.

7. The 10th green at Aberfoyle GC, Stirling

About 45 minutes north of GLA, we were welcomed to Aberfoyle by the current club captain William Paterson and his wife Lorraine – who kindly took my wife Emma into town for afternoon tea, while William gave me a tour of this stunning hillside course. It is everything I love about Scottish golf – blind shots, crazy, hidden greens, lovely springy turf – and a friendly, genuine welcome. I hope to return when I’ve had a few hours of sleep.

8. The 5th at Carradale GC, Kintyre

The smile never left TC’s face from the moment we entered the car park until we walked up the 9th hole at Carradale 90 minutes later. The thrillingly downhill 5th looks right across to Arran. I hung back to get a photo of TC and the brilliant camera crew and director of When Revelation Comes – Matt Golden and Paddy Neill.

9. An Open Competition at Dunaverty in August

Our 3 man score did not win the Medal, but it’s hard to top a day walking around Dunaverty with my great friend Robbie Wilson and the lovely David MacBrayne of Campbeltown. David is the Greens Convener at Dunaverty and loves the course as much as I do. His niece Rona was out walking her wee dog and was kind enough to take a photo of The Great Triumvirate.

10. The par three 6th at Stranraer GC, Dumfries & Galloway

My first trip to the Dumfries & Galloway region was a revelation. I had a fun round with my friends Kenny, Gary and Dave at wonderful Portpatrick. After a nice post round lunch, I couldn’t resist giving nearby Stranraer, designed by the great James Braid, a go. It was worth the effort. I am a Braid fanatic and this is a classic by the great man – elegant, flowing and natural.

11. The 6th green at Machrihanish, from the around the 13th tee

How do I begin to explain the joys of Machrihanish?

12. The Medal tee on the 12th at Shiskine GC, Isle of Arran

The brilliant Shiskine greenskeeper, Stewart Fotheringham, practically begged me to play off the Medal tee on the last. It is an impossible hole from back there, but Stewart’s handiwork in shaping the back tee was like seeing a work of art in nature.

13. The Isle of Mull at the Pennyghael Store

I went in to buy a drink in the wee store and I told the nice lady, “Well, you’ve pretty much got the view of the entire world out your front door. She replied with a knowing smile, “Aye, it would be hard to argue against it.”

14. Leadhills GC, Biggar

I’ve been many places in Scotland over the last 30 years where there was a feeling of complete isolation. Leadhills is the highest elevation of any course in the country. Beautifully austere, with heather covered mountains everywhere, I walked it alone in a 30 mph wind. Wonderful.

15. The 6th at Dunaverty at 6:30 am

A golf course architect could only dream of creating contours like this. This is the rolling ocean made of earth.

16. The 3rd at Iona during the Iona Open

This is the toughest par 3 in golf. 187 yards that plays like 350 yards. It’s also one of my favorite holes in the world. Perfect and natural. Just a brutal golf hole, yet you are smiling the entire time on your way to a 7.

17. The 9th at Machrie Bay GC, Isle of Arran

Your 2nd shot is played over the A841, timed in between cars and motorcycles. Glorious golfing madness of the type that can only be found in Scotland.

18. The 7th green at Shiskine from the 8th tee, Isle of Arran

One of Robbie Wilson’s favorite holes and one of mine too. Perhaps the spiritual center of the golf universe.

19. The Isle of Seil GC Clubhouse


20. The Greenskeeper’s Assistant at St. Medan GC, Dumfries & Galloway

St Medan was yet another Dumfries & Galloway revelation. I was greeted by the best welcome committee on a cold, windy morning in May.

21. The 13th at Dunaverty, near the Mull of Kintyre

Standing on the 14th tee, with Brunerican Farm in the distance.

22. Sunset at Dunaverty Rock

I often dream about being here. I’m sad when I wake up.

23. The 1st hole at Machrie Bay GC, Isle of Arran

One of my favorite greens anywhere. I laugh every time I see it. Also, I’m jealous of the residents of this wee cottage.

24. TC unleashing a drive on the 4th at Iona

Another brilliant hole at Iona. The wind is usually helping here, so the temptation is to try to hammer it. Tron did just that. He played a beautiful round of golf.

25. The Brodick to Ardrossan ferry, Isle of Arran

After an epic trip filming When Revelation Comes, TC and I had an somewhat emotional goodbye when I dropped him off at the ferry terminal to catch the first crossing to Ardrossan. I decided to walk to the course at Brodick before returning to the Corrie Hotel. He is on that boat in the distance.

26. Off the beach at Machrihanish

My good friend and publisher, Jim Sitar, at Back Nine Press made the trip over for my UK book launch at Dunaverty. He also joined us at Machrihanish and was a victim of the beach on the legendary opening hole. I could hear Robbie laughing in the background.

27. The 5th at Dunaverty, 6 am

There is not much I can add to this.

28. The Keil Hotel, Southend near the Mull of Kintyre

An Art Deco ruin that is sort of a distant beacon as you progress around the links of Dunaverty. When I win the lottery, it will become the greatest golf hotel on earth.

29. The 18th at Brodick GC, Isle of Arran

Just a complete nutcase of a finishing par 3. I love it. I was going to lay up short of the burn and play it as a par 4, as many members do. Greg said, “May as well go for it, Jim.” It’s a full driver into the wind and that still may not do it.

30. From the top of Dunaverty Rock, Southend, Scotland

My only goal for 2024 is to make it back to Scotland again with my son Jake – to Dunaverty, Iona, Arran, Prestwick, The Open at Troon and see my good friends. Happy New Year to all of you.