Lennon and McCartney. Lemon and lime. Golf and Scotch.
Some things in life just go together. They grow in similar climates. They grew up together. Or, like golf and Scotch, they hail from the same country and count as perhaps a nation’s greatest two inventions.
I like to think the first game of golf was followed by the winner buying a dram for the boys. Or maybe girls. Or perhaps golf created Scotch. I mean, maybe one day long, long ago a guy in the Scottish Highlands was whipping his mashie club along a particularly peaty bit of soil and dug up a giant divot and said, “Hmmmm….that’s interesting. I wonder what we could do with this.”
However the marriage began, it’s been going on for some time. Which is why the folks at Highland Park whisky, a premier single malt, shipped some 100,000 cases around the world last year; more than a few to thirsty golfers in Canada.
I’ve had the pleasure of playing some of Canada’s top courses over the years including Banff Springs in Alberta, Angus Glen outside Toronto and Cabot Links in Nova Scotia, to my mind the best course in the country and one that will soon be joined by Cabot Cliffs; a layout that might feature the best finishing holes in North America if it plays the way it looked when I visited last year.
The word “whisky” comes from the Gaelic words “uisage beatha,” which means “water of life.” The world “golf” comes from the Gaelic word “golf,” which means a hellish experience designed to frustrate grown men and women and thus boost sales of uisage beatha. Not that I mean my own game has suffered over the years, even though I can no longer chip without a case of paralyzing nervous system attacks and long ago lost the ability to hit even a seven-iron higher than the top of a groundhog’s head.
I hit the ball relatively well off the tee. But for many golfers, the big thing in their mind is distance. So here’s a tip from Terry Kim, head pro at Angus Glen.
“Don’t try to hit the ball further,” he says. “Most golfers try to hit the ball further with brute strength. What this does is tightens the grip and swing speed is lost. Distance in golf is dictated by the swing speed, so the looser the grip is the faster the club is able to travel. The faster the club head speed, the further the ball goes. So loosen that grip and the ball will go further.”
That’s good advice for golf. Good for Scotch drinking, too, I might add. I mean, moderation in all things, right?
Here are a few fun facts supplied by the folks at Edrington, makers of Highland Park whisky.
“The liquid inside every bottle of Edrington Scotch whisky has experienced an estimated 8,000 individual quality checks, including chemical and sensory analysis.”
8,000? That’s like an entire morning of practice swings for Vijay Singh.
I also learned from the Edrington folks that the Canadian golf industry is worth more than $14.3 billion a year to the Canadian economy and that we Canadians play some 60 million rounds a year.
As much as I love Scotch and love a good round of golf, I’ve never made it to a course in Scotland. Maybe I should celebrate my next birthday with a round at The Old Course???
For now, I’m more than content to play courses like Cabot Links, which has great food and a beautiful clubhouse that also serves Highland Park whisky. You’ll find Highland Park at other courses in Canada, too, including Uplands in Vaughan, Ontario and Victoria Golf Club in B.C.
Happy golfing. And happy sipping.
THIS … AND THAT
I didn’t get out to Pearson to check things out, but it sounds like Air Canada’s first day cracking down on folks who try to stuff Godzilla-sized carry-on bags into shoe-box sized overhead containers went fairly well. I don’t generally like folks going overboard on rules. I think most overhead bins can take a reasonable sized carryon that’s at least close to the mandated sizes, so I’d hate to see anyone getting forced to check a bag that’s an inch or two larger than it’s supposed to be. But I do shake my head in wonder at folks who carry hockey bags onto planes and expect to jam them into the bin, all the while causing delays and worry to other folks on board. I realize we all want to avoid the dreaded $25 bag fee, which I don’t agree with in any shape or form. But it’s reality, so I suggest we all take a look at our bags and get used to packing carry-ons that don’t resemble steamer trunks with handles. The clampdown began Monday at Pearson and will be spready around the country by Air Canada by June 8, officials said … Congrats to the Chelsea Hotel Toronto for being the first hotel to adopt a program called “Closing the Gap,” which is aimed at improving accessibility for folks with disabilities. The hotel says it will “offer a Guest Accessibility Package to hotel guests, providing them with a wealth of information to make the most of their stay, including information about the hotel, its amenities and surroundings in a way that speaks to persons with disabilities.” The program was designed by the Accessibility Professionals of Ontario … Ever wonder how hotels such as the Trump Toronto can keep tabs on their guests and know who’s coming and going? Turns out they’ve got a secret weapon; a high-tech communication system that allows them to track everything from burned out light bulbs to incoming VIP’s. Click here for a YouTube video that shows how it works. The hotel recently opened a pair of new suites that are sure to attract high-rolling business folks and foreign dignitaries.