St. Andrews, Scotland
July 29 - August 4, 2002
Monday. Arrival day. Several folks arrived the day before the official arrival day, and had a chance to meet before things got underway. Kev Nurse spent most of his time getting the kits made up, getting team shirts ironed, and a million other details that made the whole thing work. He deserves some kind of award.
A few hearty souls tried the Drumoig golf course in the morning. It was about 60 F, drizzle and wind. Perfect links golf weather!
Dieter, Dick Groff and H.P. played a friendly round on the Drumoig course. The 18th is a 200 yard par three.
People straggled in all day, and by the time the cocktail party began, everybody was here. Wendy picked up some kind of bug on the way, and had to sit out most of the evening, but she got a chance to meet everyone and was OK on Tuesday morning.
Everyone enjoyed the food and drink and had a great time getting to know each other. One event of note was the deeding of the Leith Cup to the Leith Society as a permanent challenge cup for any gatherings that may occur in future. Dick Groff signed the deed as donor and H.P. Griesser accepted for the Leith Society.
One of the predicted results of a gathering of rules "freaks" was that impromptu discussions would break out all over the place. That possibility was mentioned in the early writings about the Gathering. It turned out to be even more remarkable than predicted. When ever two or more folks sat for a beer or smoke, within minutes some hypothetical was posed and the discussion began. Others joined the group and quickly entered the debate. In just one day, enough material has developed in discussions to easily fill two pages of the Leith Society discussion boards!
At dinner, the only formal event was the execution of the Deed of Gift, transfering ownership of The Leith Cup from Dick Groff to The Leith Society.
Tuesday. About twelve folks went to Montrose by coach for a little warm up, but it was anything but. It rained and blew and some had to quit on the 14th hole. Great golf course, bad day.
Dick and Kev continued with orgainzational details, with Kev pulling the labouring oar.
Tuesday night was dinner for all and a good time getting to know each other.
Wednesday. First round of the Leith Cup at the New Course. Because of the scheduling requriements of the St. Andrews Links Trust, we could not have all our matches in a row, but had to stagger them througout the day. (The same was true on Friday at the Old Course.)
On the first hole Dick Groff discovered he had a sand wedge that was not his. Fortunately that was only the 13th club in his bag so no penalty was incurred. He figured it must be the one Dieter had used on the 18th at Drumoig. At the end of the day Dick mentioned the sand wedge to Dieter, remembering the day before and it turned out to be his club picked up by accident.
In the meantime, however, Dieter bought a used sand wedge for 35 pounds from the Scottish Golfing Union shop nearby, to continue the week. Dick offered to buy the club (feeling a little responsible), but Dieter wanted to try the new one. It later proved too short in the shaft for him, and he accepted Dick's offer. Dick now had a nice Mizuno T-Zoid SW to bring home.
The club house that services the Links courses was packed with people, including children. It was clear that more than golfers were served there and it was most uncomfortable. One had to queque for drinks. It was not as advertised.
Thursday. Second round of the cup, at Carnoustie. Could we bring it to its knees? HA! Everyone was coached in for our 2:30 tee times, fortunately continuous for better strategy by the captains. (Speaking of which, Johnty was expected to arrive on Tuesday afternoon, but because of terrible weather, did not arrive until the middle of dinner on Thursday. Kev stood in as captain for the Empire....team that is.) By mid round the wind was up to 30 knots (three clubs) and there was no hope of bringing anything to its knees, except Sam Smale, who managed a decent round because of his straight and long driving. The day was a wash though as both teams managed three and a half points.
Dinner was at Carnoustie in the bar. Johnty finally arrived during dinner and was a welcome sight.
After dinner, we all loaded up on the coach.
Friday. Last day of the Cup, singles matches at the Old Course, varying tee times, starting at 7:40 and ending at 15:30. A great experience for many as it was their first time on the Old Course. (Advice: don't leave your handicap certificate at home, and hire a caddie.) Only one point ahead, the Empire team stood precariously on the brink of victory. One or two matches for the Rest of the World and the Empire is defenceless. Alas, it was not to be. The Empire emerged from the singles with enough to take the cup...but there remained the Rules bowl (which had been postponed to Friday night so Johnty could play) this was the chance for the Rest of the World to overtake the Empire team for the cup.
It was decided to increase the point value of the rules bowl matches sufficient to give the Rest of the World a chance. If they could manage to win all three matches they could win the Cup. One halve and it would go to the Empire. It took only the first match to achieve that result. The first match was halved, so the remainder was just for fun. (The rules bowl sort of flopped...everyone had fun, but as you might expect, disagreements about what were supposed to be iron clad answers abounded. Even one of the questions was challenged. Something different will have to take its place if this is done again.)
"Our" Hotel. We practically took over the entire Drumoig Hotel, about seven miles north of St. Andrews. It is an interesting, and non-traditional hotel for Scotland. There is a main building with dining, bar and five "executive" suites. There are also three "chalets" flanking the main building, with eight rooms each. We took all five executive suites and two chalets. The Hotel has its own 18 hole golf course available to guests. The staff was very accomodating to our needs.
Gathering Origins. The people who are attending The Gathering in 2002 (with a couple of exceptions) are active golf rules officials in their home countries, or are knowledgeable "amateur" afficianados of the rules of golf. They all are contributors to a golf rules discussion group on the world wide web maintained by The Leith Society. Most of the attendees are members of The Leith Society.
In late 2000, a Leith Society member who had just had an enjoyable experience in Scotland, announced on the DG his intention to return. That idea triggered several others to indicate their interest in visiting Scotland, meeting other members, and playing some golf. In short order, a few grew to thirty! Far from a typical vacation for a small number, it has turned into a major undertaking. The Drumoig Hotel (just outside St. Andrews) has all but been taken over by the Gathering. The venues for the Leith Cup (described below) were secured at no small effort by a smaller number of volunteers, prizes were purchased, entertainment organized, souvenirs bought and emblazoned with The Leith Society logo, and a thousand other elements fell into place to make The Gathering 2002 a major event for the members of the Leith Society, and a formidable precedent for others that may follow.
We hope the photos and descriptions in this journal are informative and entertaining. We expect to have a lot of fun over here, and hope you can vicariously experience it through our efforts on these pages.
Intending no disrespect to the ancient and sacred tradition of Gatherings among the Scottish clans, The Leith Society named this assembly of its members in honor of those traditional events.
The Leith Cup. The Leith Society derives its name from "The Leith Code," the traditional name of the first known written rules of golf. The Leith Code was written in 1744 for a competition among the members of The Company of Gentlemen Golfers of Leith (later to become The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers). Their home course was on the Leith Links, named for the seaport town of Leith, which is now a suburb of Edinburgh. The golf course long ago disappeared, but The Honourable Company still thrives at Muirfield. The Leith Code was later adopted by The Society of St. Andrews Golfers, (predecessor to the modern Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews) and has evolved into the 34 Rules of Golf and more than 1000 Decisions on the Rules of Golf that we know today.
The Leith Cup is a friendly golf competition between and among the attendees of The Gathering. It is modeled on the Ryder Cup format, match play only, played over three days. A permanent trophy has been donated and it is hoped that further Gatherings will assemble and compete for the Cup. In this, the first competition, the attendees have been divided into two teams (very) roughly equivalent to the state of the world in the mid-nineteenth century, when there was the British Empire and The Rest of the World. Visit the results page and follow the Cup progress, and cheer for your favorite.