In 1974 I was running my family's pub outside Glasgow and playing
off a scratch handicap when a friend told me that he knew an
up-and-coming Yank named Ben Crenshaw who needed a caddie for the
British Open at Lytham. I took the job thinking it would simply
be a fun loop, but it turned into so much more.
Ben became one of my best friends, and for the last 30 years I've
caddied for him whenever he has played in Great Britain,
including 19 British Opens. I even betrayed my European mates to
caddie for Ben at the 1981 Ryder Cup in England, which the
Americans won. In two weeks I'll be on his bag again, at the
Senior British Open at Portrush.
Ben has never done too well at Troon, especially on the 11th
hole, a downwind par-4 that's terrifying because the drive is
blind with an expanse of gorse between the tee and the fairway.
During practice the players must identify a target on the
horizon, such as the Marine Hotel, then trust their memories--and
their swings--when it counts. There's also gorse on both sides of
the fairway that you must avoid; it's so thick that you'd not
only be lucky to find your ball in it, but you'd also have a hard
time locating the tracks for the Ayrshire coastal railroad, which
runs O.B. down the hole's right side.
*Bobbie Millen, 58, is the lead surveyor at Strokesport, the
Paisley, Scotland-based company that has made the British Open
yardage books for 25 years.
COLOR PHOTO: BOBBIE MILLEN
COLOR DIAGRAM: DIAGRAM BY STROKESPORT No. 11 Par-4490 Yards