Last April, I played a round at Newburgh-on-Ythan Golf Club, on the east coast of Scotland about halfway between Royal Aberdeen and Cruden Bay. The round was unusual in that all three members of my threesome were named Dave. (One of the Daves was the club’s captain, but I no longer remember which one.) Newburgh was founded in 1888, a year before my golf club at home. Originally, it had nine holes and was only a little over two thousand yards long. (The hole called “Long” was just three hundred and thirty-three yards.) It was laid out like this:
The second nine of the current course occupies the same piece of ground as the original course, although the layout has changed. The new nine is situated on the hill shown in the upper left-hand corner of the map above. One of the new holes incorporates an ancient wall thing, and if your ball ends up inside the enclosure you may have trouble hitting it out, as one of the Daves did:
The most famous person ever to take golf lessons at Newburgh is probably Prince Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramentharamaha Vajiravudh Phra Mongkut Klao Chao Yu Hua (later King Vajiravudh) of Siam (later Thailand), who learned to play there in 1897, the same year the map above was drawn. Here’s what the Prince looked like after he became King:
The wind blows hard on Scotland’s east coast, and one result is the mountain-size pile of sand in the photo below. It’s on the far side of the estuary of the River Ythan, directly across from the golf course:
The mountain of sand is part of Forvie National Nature Reserve. You can enter the reserve from a parking lot a mile north of Newburgh and walk all the way across it to the sea:
A large part of the reserve was closed when I was there, to protect nesting terns, but I was able to explore the ruins of the village of Forvie, which was buried by blowing sand in the early 1400s. All that’s left are some piles of stones and part of the village church, which was built on high ground:
Near the path I followed into the reserve were several stations like the one below, which were equipped with tools I could have used to stamp out any fires I happened to have started. Luckily, I didn’t start any.
I’m not sure that I need to play Newburgh-on-Ythan again, but I’m glad I played it once, and I’m glad I met the Daves, and I’m glad I found that old ruined church. And the chunk of moss I brought my wife is now growing near our back door. It didn’t make up for the trip, but it probably helped.