Golf in the Wild has led to some interesting connections both on and off the course. Yesterday (6th December) I spent an enjoyable round at Allendale in the company of the good men of Traigh who loved the wilds of Allendale golf course as much as I love the wilds of Traigh. It reminded me of one glorious Spring day spent researching the book at Traigh when at the ninth I caught up with this happy scene – three men and a dog putting out to finish their round.
This is how the chapter on Traigh ends:
My first holiday romance was at a farmhouse near St David’s in south Wales. I fell for the farmer’s daughter, she was about sixteen and I was barely four. I can still feel her soft hands on my shoulders. She was the first of the gender to make me realise that girls could be loving creatures, unlike my sister, too engrossed in her own older world and my mother, too much in charge. The night the holiday ended, back home, I was distraught, crying a river into Robin-starched sheets. Ever since I have had an overly-moist sentimental streak for people and places left behind. Traigh is such a place.
I have received a variety of generous comments and reviews from both friends and complete strangers. Some can be found on Amazon, where the book will soon be available to order. However, out of them all, this one from Tom is my favourite – Golf in the Wild as a test of character.
A quick internet search seems to reveal that Mr Down has written nothing before which makes it even more extraordinary. What I am really enjoying is all the golfing, literary and musical avenues it opens up, some previously visited, and some completely new. It even made me look at motor sport in a new way, previously one of my few sporting blind spots………Anyway thank you for introducing me to the book, I am going to order a few and spread the word. It may well become a litmus test of character, those who get it will go up in my regard and those that don’t may head in the other direction.
Purchase a copy and take the litmus test.
Golf is all about numbers – look at a scorecard and it is covered in them: the holes 1 to 18; the White, Yellow and Red distances for each hole; pars; stroke indexes; gross scores; nett scores; stableford points, handicaps. Non-golfers might be surprised to know that there are GPS systems which tell you exact distances from where your ball has landed to the hole – more numbers.
Golf in the Wild takes you on a journey of 727 miles from Northumberland to the far northwest of Scotland, taking in fifteen courses – assuming you play eighteen at each that is a total of 270 holes and this is what awaits as a finale, on the last course, Durness – what a finish (click on the image to see if you can make out the flag):
This is exactly what the sadistic inventor of golf had in mind when he explained his intentions to Robin Williams – sensitivity warning – those offended by bad language should not watch/listen:
And this image just to prove that I don’t ‘dress like a pimp’ and no wheels are involved – I carry my own bag.
This post was first published at www.northumbrianlight.wordpress.com
Killin News – October Edition
“Golf in the Wild – A journey through time and place” by Robin J. Down
“This book exists because of Killin. It was here in 2005 that the idea of solitary golf in wild places was first born.” ( Chapter 4 Killin)
This is a newly published book and as a non-golfer I found it a surprisingly enjoyable and easy read. Written with humour and candour, it should appeal to a much wider audience than just the golfing fraternity. With descriptions of wonderful ‘wild’ courses, on which the golfer can test his or her skills (or lack of them!), the book encourages you to take the journey and to step off the well publicised golfing route map. It could even tempt the non-golfing household to enjoy the delights of a touring holiday in north Northumberland and Scotland and may just persuade others to abandon the hassle of airports and their annual golfing jaunt to Turkey, Portugal or other such popular destinations.
This book is much more than about playing golf. It takes you on a journey through time, wonderful landscapes, the fascinating history of the places where the courses are located, the author’s life and the various characters in his family, and his passion for fast cars and those who were lucky (or unlucky) enough to race them. The golfing journey begins at Allendale, Northumberland and ends at Durness, in Sutherland, having taken you on a route north via courses such as Selkirk, Bishopshire, Killin – to which a whole chapter is devoted, Craignure, Traigh and Gairloch. A great tour to undertake even without the golf clubs and the book will, hopefully, encourage new visitors to all the destinations that are mentioned.
It is a book you can dip in and out of and should inspire every reader to do a bit of exploring. Copies, priced at £8.99, are available in Killin at The Old Mill and at Killin Golf Club or may be bought directly from www.golfinthewild.co.uk. Gillean Ford
I have had a few bad dreams recently – 1000 books are delivered to my front door, I open the first box, scan the pages and to my horror, all the print is overflowing the right margin. The images are either too faint to see or so dark everything looks like night – I desparately tear the boxes apart looking for just one that might be right. In the event, the 1000 books turned up in 42 boxes (41 x 24 and 1 x16 for the mathematically inclined) and after two days hard searching I have yet to find anything wrong, or at least nothing glaring. For this I have to thank my various editors and the skilled advice and guidance provided by The Choir Press, a truly professional organisation. So begins the next interesting task – promotion, marketing and selling.
It has been a fascinating voyage of discovery – for instance, until yesterday I did not appreciate there something called the Legal Deposit. This is the obligation on publishers to send one copy of each of their publications to the British Library. In addition another five must go to the Agency for The Legal Deposit Libraries – this covering The Bodleian Library, Oxford, The University Library, Cambridge, The National Library of Scotland, The Library of Trinity College, Dublin and The National Library of Wales. Odd to think that these august bodies now all contain works by yours truly.
Another worry was the exact dimensions of 1000 books – where would they all go? In the event they squeeze into a relatively confined space, mostly under our dining room table. We don’t expect to be wining and dining for some time!
Publication date moves ever closer. The final edits have been applied and now I await a digital proof before going to press. A late decision was inclusion of an inside cover image with descriptive text to add interest to the opening page. This has also provided space for a generous review from my good friend Norman Harris of The Times:
“Small is clearly beautiful to the author, and so is remote. He has a passion and curiosity for these special golfing terrains and the way local landscapes and history have shaped them. His odyssey should strike a chord with a small army of kindred souls.”
Norman Harris – THE TIMES
This is the latest version of the cover – there have been seven previous versions. The various iterations have all revolved around the text on the front page – the font type, size and positioning. There has even been a version with vertical text to compliment the flag stick – I was rightly persuaded to drop that idea. If this is final, publication just now awaits a final round of professional editing.
A recent post on northumbrian : light indicates a target publication date of April 2014 – I am into the third round of editing before finalising the page count which, in turn, determines the spine thickness. Once I know this, it will be time to complete the cover design. By degrees, it is getting closer to being complete. The northumbrian : light post featured some text from the book and this image of my grandfather, standing on Egyptian sands as the distinctive smell of burnt castor oil fills the air.
Having finally bitten the bullet and subscribed to InDesign CC, the formatting of the book is slowly taking shape. Starting with a blank sheet of paper is quite a daunting prospect – it seems like it should be easy – the page size is pre-defined, there is guidance on fonts and margins but there is still much to decide. It has taken me three days to get this far – the chapter heading is intended to echo a golf flag and there must be space for all the various course names and quotes, all of which vary in size e.g. Selkirk & Innerleithen. Then there are header and footer/page number options, line spacing, font sizes, footnotes, dropcaps etc etc. The challenge is to be original but professional – it has to “look right”. Hopefully it does.
After several months of waiting around for promised responses from publishers – they never did – I am making steady progress towards self-publication. Finding an organisation that is informed, responsive, helpful and UK based has been a trial but they do exist, or at least one does. I am about to start detailed layouts with InDesign CC, I will finalise the text for the umpteenth time and worst of all I need to decide on the photographic content. When researching many of the courses I only got one opportunity for photographs and if that day was dreich, as it was at Durness, then the results could be less than satisfactory. This is one image that will definitely not appear in the book, simply because the course doesn’t – it is Hexham one bright but misty morning in June 2012. Commissioned by the Newcastle Journal to photograph Great Golf Holes of the North, it was possible to respond immediately once the weather conditions were ideal, the course being five minutes from home. Just popping back to Durness when the weather bucks up is not an option.