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Friday, July 15, 2016

A TIME FOR REFLECTION: Part 2--The Value of Golf

This series on reflection will turn nostalgic in Parts 2 and 3.  I noticed that The Open is on television this weekend.  The times are weird because Scotland is eleven hours ahead of Hawaii.  

I've played at two of the nine courses utilized for what was mostly known as the British Open Championship in times past, but, like U.S. presidents having business cards with only their names, and Harvard/Yale simplifying their football rivalry as The Game, British and Championship were discarded into just The Open.  That symbol inside the "O" is known as the Claret Jug, and claret, if you did not know, is what the British call Bordeaux wine.  Why?  The French  term for dark Rose wine is claret.

There are four majors in professional golf, three in the USA and one in the United Kingdom.  The Royal and Ancient Club of St. Andrews  (The RA) runs the non-American version, held in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.  Scotland is considered to be the home of golf as we know it today, with The RA being probably the most famous in the world.  Royal Troon is now hosting, Royal Birkdale next year and Carnoustie in 2018.  The Old Course at St. Andrews returns every five years, so will be the site in 2020.  Donald Trump's Turnberry will do so in 2021.

So, anyway, there was a period in my life when I went to Edinburgh every August to advise Heriot-Watt University on marine biotechnology.  At least that was the what I wrote on my travel justification.

Edinburgh hosts an International Festival in August.  This is the only month when the climate is warm enough, but still, honestly, is kind of chilly.  

There are, actually, ten different types of festivals in one, ranging from the more classical arts of every sort to book fairs and something called The Fringe, which advertises itself as the world's largest arts festival:  last year, 50,549 performances of 3.314 shows in 313 venues.  Things get pretty crazy, for there is no selection committee and anyone can just show up to do something.  To say that their venues are extreme is an understatement, for churches, public toilets, taxis and university rooms are regularly utilized.  Mind  you, this fringe thing is just one of ten, or maybe eleven different festivals.

My first meeting with administrators at Heriot-Watt was usually in mid-afternoon, where we mostly drank an assortment of single-malt scotches and sometimes discussed biotech research.  The organizer of these gatherings was Grant Burgess, who now occupies a prestigious director's role at the University of Newcastle.  The Japanese contact was Tadashi Matsunaga, who is now in his sixth year as president of Tokyo University Agriculture and Technology.  Here is what they look like today.  The bottom line, if  you haven't gotten it by now, is that relationships are everything in international research.  

One year the dean of the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, a high ranking official of the Department of Energy and director of the Florida Solar Energy Center joined the festivities.  We also all golfed at St. Andrews, and some of us the next day at Carnoustie, two of the golf courses used for The Open.  Carnoustie that year had just hosted this tournament, where they had built a brand new hotel right next the course, and my room was between the first hole tee-off and finishing 18th hole.  I could hear the conversation occurring on both holes.

Turns out that Grant's office was located between a member of the Royal and Ancient Club, who invited us to join him at St. Andrews, and the Scotch Professor of Scotland.  As a native who grew up in Edinburgh, you would think he should have had some golf skills.  Well, I urge you to CLICK on this posting from the past, for he wrote most of this article.  I introduce him as champion karaoke singer because he had the night before beat Tadashi and me at a karaoke bar in Edinburgh.  If you want a few laughs, you just must CLICK on that link.  I might finally add that on one of these August adventures Grant and I accompanied Tadashi and his wife to the Royal Dublin Course, and we lost all 43 balls by the 5th hole.  We kept playing by finding other lost balls.  Above is another recent photo, with Mayumi to Tadashi's left.

Tadashi and Mayumi, incidentally, have been involved since the initial planning of the upcoming 2018 World Cruise.  Perhaps we can encourage Grant to join us.  Tomorrow, Part 3 of Reflections.

Well, the budding storm to the right will become Hurricane Estelle and actually approach Hawaii.

However, most models show a weakening occurring before impacting the islands.


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