August 16, 2006

I had decided to just wrap up Sweden and the British Open in one last post, but realized it's going to have to be two posts; this one will conclude our time in Sweden and get us to the site of the British Open. The next and last post will be the Open and a wrap up of the trip as a whole. I just went through my journal and there is way too much to convey in one post.

Stockholm; Thursday 7/20
OK, 3am was a little late to be up, especially since we golfed until 10pm. Exhaustion is an understatement. I'm up and out by 9:55 in order to get to the stores when they open at 10am. I am in search of a gift for Mary. I cannot explain how difficult a task this is! Jewelry really makes no sense, it's not like there are these incredible bargains, plus I'd rather go to 'Carl' back home. The clothes over here are a little weird, after all men wear Capri's!!! No kidding! (click on the picture, look at the guy in the hat about 10 feet in front of Pete!! I told Mary I was going to bring a pair back but I couldn't do it...she was relieved!)

I bought her a t-shirt with Moose on it [inside joke here, it would take to long to explain]. I leave with nothing substantial, I'm going to be in trouble!! Hopefully, I'll find something on Monday if I have time in London?!

So as I walked around and people watched (with my iPod producing the mellow sounds of Kenny Chesney's 'Old Blue Chair') I couldn't help but take a few minutes to thank God for blessing me. Seriously, regardless of my current health issues, how many people get this opportunity! I could have walked and walked and walked for hours…..serene. I would really like to come back here someday and take more of it in, this is such a beautiful city.

Pete and Joe are slow rising and we eat a quick breakfast and head to Jarva. [Joe is contemplating writing a story "How to survive Europe on the sandwich", very funny but oh so true!]. We played 18 holes, my round was the same, nothing to brag about. We stopped to grab lunch, sandwich materials (go figure) and headed to Lilljon's. It was yet another beautiful day in Sweden, temperature in low 70's, sunny, very few clouds.

It was after two o'clock when we arrived. We ate and headed off to the first tee. Though the tents were still in place, no campers were to be found. As a matter of fact there was hardly a soul in the park at all. I played a few strokes better than yesterday, Joe and Pete a few worse. Regardless, it was sad to depart and head to the airport.

Our flight to London was the only leg of the journey that was not crowded. The three of us spread out and had our own personal rows. I fulfilled my goal of finding something for Mary by purchasing a strand of Japanese pearls and matching earrings from ‘duty free’. They are very unique, and quite pretty, if I do say so myself.

Friday July 21 (London/Salisbury/Beaminster)
We altered our plans slightly and decided to make a stop at Stonehenge on the way to the tournament. Salisbury was about half way to Beaminster, 90 minutes from London. The drive was an experience to say the least. Pete was the pilot of our Peugeot SUW (sport utility wagon; much like a Chrysler Pacifica).

Not only was the steering wheel on the wrong side, it was a manual transmission! I rode co-pilot, Joseph was the navigator, with Matt acting as the narrator. We made it to Salisbury by about 1:00am but having no idea where Stonehenge was in relation to the town we just pulled over, parked the car and tried to get a few hours of sleep. I tossed and turned until about 4:45 when the sunrise began to wake the others. We decided to try to find Stonehenge before the sun actually rose and thanks to a very friendly British chap we were there by 6:15ish. Only one problem - it doesn’t open until 9:00! Here are the photos we took while passing the monument at 35 miles per hour.
By 7:30 we had made our way to Crewkern, a few miles from Beaminster and Whitcome Farm, the site of the British Open. Starving, we began our hunt for food. As it turns out the town does not come to life until 8:00am. The grocery store was closed and all of the restaurants (both of them) were closed. About to give up, we found refuge at "The King Edward Inn". We had a comfortable English breakfast and were off to the grocery by 8:30.

The grocery presented yet another dilemma, with no cooler or means to cook, what to buy? Chips and salsa, fruit, bread, granola bars, beer and large quantities of bottled water.

We were able to find Whitcome Farm and a place to camp without incident. Having nothing else to do, we were playing our practice round by 11:00ish. We brought some of the London heat with us; high 70's but very muggy! The farm had two course, the Ancient and the Modern. The former slightly easier, the latter was a beast! Without directions or a map we found our way on to the Modern course. This place was massive! The elevation change between the first hole (low point) and the eighth hole (apex) was probably 400'. Not the Rockies but when you are use to the flat lands of Kansas, this was spectacular. A few downers; stinging nettles and briar trees. The course was lined with both. We have nettles on a few course here in Kansas but they are wisps compared to these terrors. For those of you not familiar with nettles, read this, look at the photo as well!!!. [] By the time we finished our practice round both my shins felt as if they had Novocain injections! It took several hours for the sensation to subside. Additionally, my legs were covered with scratches from the briars as we had our share of errand shots. I shot a respectable 69 but the climb up the hills of this sheep farm took the remaining energy I had.

Here are a few shot of the course:
Joe on #7, last time we ever saw this disc!!

#8 The
Hypotenuse, the 8th (800ft, 150ft drop)

Pete, Joe and Matt on #12 (give you an idea of the elevation change)

Joe tee's off on #14 (click on the picture and you can see the basket)

The four of us signed up for mixed doubles. This provided a good opportunity to catch a glimpse of a few holes on the Ancient Course. Pete and I were paired with 'Penn and Teller' two gents from Sweden and Finland. Again, a long story behind the moniker Pete gave them, kind of funny but not worth sharing here. We shot -3 as a team, they shot -8 and took third place.

By 9:00pm I called it a night at tried to sleep in the back seat of the SUW. At this point I had gotten about 6 hours of sleep since Wednesday. I was exhausted, the Peugeot offered little relief. By 6:00am, after getting maybe 2 hours of sleep amongst the seat belts, shoes and other various items I gave up the fight. The sun was rising and the day of the tournament had arrived.

NEXT UP: The Open and a wrap!

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