Water Hazard: Even an authentic links course is no match for UK’s record rainfall

Water Hazard: Even an authentic links course is no match for UK’s record rainfall

Soggy 16th -- Actually, I took this from a relatively dry patch of green in the 11th hole's fairway. The lateral hazard in the foreground is normally a dry ditch. The 16th in the background is essentially unplayable.

Soggy 16th -- Actually, I took this from a relatively dry patch of green in the 11th hole's fairway. The lateral hazard in the foreground is normally a dry ditch. The 16th in the background is essentially unplayable.

When preparing for my big move from America to Scotland, I fully anticipated a heavy dose of culture shock—even if I’d made multiple golf trips here since 1997. But perhaps, instead, I should have been bracing myself for water shock.

That’s what I experienced today when, after spending the past five weeks in the drought-ridden states of Texas and California, I returned to the auld country and found portions of my home club—Goswick, just south of the Scotland-England border—fully submerged. Granted, the United Kingdom did just slog through its wettest December in recorded history. But James Braid routed this course through sand dunes. Under normal conditions, linksland is supposed to be immune to flooding.

Drowning Range -- I won't be working on my game here for the foreseeable future. Snorkeling, however, might be an option.

Drowning Range -- I won't be working on my game here for the foreseeable future. Snorkeling, however, might be an option.

Clearly, this ain't normal. If this doesn't convince the climate change naysayers, nothing will.
That being said, I don’t want to blow this “disaster” out of proportion—at least as far as the impact it’s had on me. This is a golf course we’re talking about, not someone’s home. There are far too many of those that have been left inhabitable by the deluge, leaving far too many poor souls homeless.

Duck Soup -- Our feathered friends might enjoy this impromptu pond in the center of the 11th hole's fairway. Humans? Not so much.

Duck Soup -- Our feathered friends might enjoy this impromptu pond in the center of the 11th hole's fairway. Humans? Not so much.

It’s just that, after too much time away, I was really looking forward to reconvening with my golf buddies on our fescue-covered playground. And with the raindrops continuing to pelt the windows of our 17th century cottage in Kelso, that might not happen any time soon.

New Man River -- The 12th is one of the tighter driving holes at Goswick. Until the water recedes, it'll be even more so. Pro's tip from the tee: Aim for high ground.

New Man River -- The 12th is one of the tighter driving holes at Goswick. Until the water recedes, it'll be even more so. Pro's tip from the tee: Aim for high ground.

Then again, the weather app on my iPhone assures me there’ll be a break in the precipitation on Friday. And, contrary to what you might surmise from these photos, most of Goswick is holding its own. So with a wee bit of creativity (play the first 10 holes, then 17 and 18, then repeat 1-3 followed by 8 and 9, finishing on 18?) and a whole lot of layering (it’s not just wet, it’s also cold and windy), we’ll still find a way to get in our appointed rounds.

By kayak, if need be.

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