A couple windy games of golf on the moors and glens of Scotland for the International Pairs World Finals taught a couple locals a lot about international competition and Scotland.
Brad Chudiak and Craig Delwisch won a trip to Scotlands’ Loch Lomond golf course to take part in the International Pairs World Finals after winning a pairs competition in Comox last year. A year later, earlier this month, the pair finally got to play the games they’d been looking forward to for so long.
The Canadian team faced off against 17 other teams from 12 other countries, including: South Africa, Spain, Portugal, United Arab Emirates, Israel, U.S.A, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Romania, Scotland, Ireland and England.
Out of the 18 teams, including Canada, Delwisch and Chudiak came in seventh.
Though disappointing with regards to placing, it was something of an eye opener for the pair, as well as an enjoyable trip to the heart of golf country.
“When we won at Comox, that was over a year ago. It’s a whole year of build up,” Chudiak said.
“So the anticipation, it was huge. And then the day after the tournament there was a huge psychological let down. Like it’s accomplished, it’s done. We didn’t win, which was disappointing because both of us are competitive. Not to finish in the top three was difficult. That was our goal. And it was a feasible goal, but things happen and you don’t play as well. I could remember how well we played in Comox and we’re capable of playing at that level, but Comox was a special day. Comox was a day over a year ago and to get to that place in Scotland, with all the pressure was hard. I could see it being very difficult for athletes who race nine and a half seconds. To prepare and be at that level, at that peak, at that time of year is extremely fortunate. It takes a little bit of luck and we just didn’t get the bounces. You can either bounce in or bounce out and we bounced out.”
With the intensity of the competition in mind, the pair arrived in Scotland early to get their feet under them in Scotland and get in a couple extra practice rounds.
The first two practices went well, as the pair strolled the course, not playing to win, but to get to know the course and calm their nerves.
“It wasn’t a links style golf course. It was a parkland golf course with links style bunkers, the big faced bunkers, around the greens. Parkland means it’s in among the trees, it’s not wide open and flat. It was quite hilly,” Chudiak said.
Then, to keep them free of stress that over-thinking Chudiak and Delwisch took some time off to tour the country.
With Deliwsch driving and Chudiak keeping them pointed in the right direction, the pair managed to get about without much trouble, despite the differences.
The roads, besides the simple wrong-side drive the British seem intent on keeping, were different — tighter with a love of round-a-bouts.
“We must have gone through, I’d say conservatively, more than 2,500 round-a-bouts,” Chudiak said.
The pair enjoyed the agricultural country side, with its lush greens and harvest yellows, enjoying the difference between the vast wilds of Canada and the controlled fields of Great Britain.
As is almost required, the trips around the countryside included a couple distilleries, Auchentoshan and Glengoyne, to taste Scotland’s water of life.
“Learning a little bit more about the process of making scotch and the pride they take in making scotch is interesting. They do a very good job,” Chudiak said.
“When we taste wine and you can taste flavours like fruits, they do scotch tasting like that. We ended up acquiring a bit of a taste for scotch.”
“And of course we come back here and it’s expensive Scotch,” Delwisch added.
The relaxation from thinking about the golf tournament also included a couple games of golf, one at Carnoustie, as well as a wander through St. Andrews.
Back at Loch Lomond, the pair had hoped for a third practice before the official practice, but, as per the stereotypical idea of Scotland as a damp, grey country, the sky opened up before the competition, raining out their practice. Groundskeepers decided to shut the course down after the downpour to protect it for the competition.
The weather stayed windy and chilly for the duration of the tournament, though not rainy enough for Delawish and Chudiak as the pair was hoping cold, rainy weather would give them the upper hand against teams from tropical countries.
After the practice, the pair switched to the tournament hotel where Chudiak and Delwish were treated to a mini flag bearing ceremony, at which Chudiak got to carry the Canadian flag with a parade of players holding a rainbow of foreign flags.
“It was very cool to be carrying the Canadian flag for that. It was a great experience, something you can’t even tell people about really; you had to be there,” Delwisch said.
After a great practice round and a warm welcome at the hotel, which included great food and very friendly people, the team was ready to hit the course and see how things would stack up.
The next day, after the first round of the tournament, things were stacking up well.
“We played pretty good golf that day. We got 36 points and I think the high team had 39 points. We were only three points out of first place at that point, so we were tied for third with a number of teams. Which is something to think about when you’re sleeping,” Chudiak said.
The second day, everything they had fought to pull together began to pull apart.
“Would I like to play the second round over? Yeah. Would I like to play a couple second shots over? Yeah,” Chudiak said.
A feeling that was corroborated by Delwisch.
“I played bad the second day. I’m not happy with my performance. But that’s golf, that’s sport,” he said.
And with that, anti-climactic ending the tournament was over. The relationships and memories they gained while over there didn’t fade so quickly though.
“One of the big things for me was just the experience of going over there and teeing off against the calibre of golfers that were there. And meeting the guys, we really hit off well with some of the guys,” Delwisch said.
“We really seemed to circulate around well. We got to know everyone quite well. It was a lot of fun.”
The pair still communicate with a couple of the teams they played against during the tournament.
Coming back to town under a bit of a cloud that followed them back from Scotland, the guys were encouraged by the positivity of the community.
“People come up to me since were back and they say congratulations. And I tell them yeah but we didn’t get to where we wanted. They say, yeah but it’s seventh out of all those teams from all over the world, and they’re all very congratulatory,” Delwisch said.
Now, after such a great impression with the trip and the tournament, Delwisch is tossing around the idea of starting up a tournament here to make things a little more interesting.
“It gets so damn quiet around here,” he said.