Just before Fall came around, our co-founder, John Ashworth, packed up some of his favorite gear and headed off to the home of golf. A list of what he packed for the trek can be found at the end of his story... for now, here's John.
Scotland Journal: Returning to the Roots & Winging it
I use to spend loads of time in Scotland back in the 90’s, actually living there for a couple of years and wearing out the great links on the east coast. It been ten years since my last visit, though.
We signed up a new sales agency, a great group of people under the name Trendy Golf, to handle the expansion of the Linksoul brand in the UK. They decided to kick it off with a small show in St. Andrews at the Hotel Du Vin and they asked if I could tag along. Let’s just say they didn’t have to twist my arm.
I decided to parlay the trip into a photo shoot in North Berwick and have Geoff, my Linksoul co-conspirator and photographer, to meet me there on Thursday. We were also hoping to see our long time friend and noted golf historian and art/club collector Archie Baird and his wife, Sheila. Archie’s been a huge inspiration and mentor over the years and will be turning 94 this year. He’s recently been affected by dementia and we wanted to give him a big hug and tell him how much he’s meant to us.
Oh, and maybe we play some golf and meet some new people along the way, of course...
Day One : Arrive in Edinburgh 7am.
Rent a Car - Drive to St. Andrews
I met up with the Trendy Golf people at the show to meet some potential customers and brief them on our story and show them products of Linksoul. Later on, after a pint of lager, I went out for a stroll on the Old Course. A spectacular evening to study the routing and the bunkers while not playing, but just watching others take it on. It couldn’t have been more enjoyable.
Day Two: Kingsbarns - Tuesday
More show stuff and meetings with some of the best resorts and golf courses in the UK. Then, tee time at Kingsbarns at 3:30PM with the Trendy Golf guys, Louis, Rob, and Ben (which, by the way, can all flat out play golf) plus a friendly local named James Bunch, who played amazing with a Hickory shafted set. Oddly enough, my niece Rachel works as the social media director for Trendy and it was her first trip to the UK, so it was a bonus to spend some time together. She also did an interview with me which was fun and a little weird. Pints and great food rounded out the day. Special thanks to Jack Thorburn the Golf Professional and Art, the owner of Kingsbarns, for hosting us. It was a perfect day.
Day 3: Lundin Links - Wednesday
Still in St. Andrews. We got the green light to play Lundin Links, which turned 150 years old this year and a sweet, quirky links course. And a crazy ‘Link Soul' story takes place that was not on the agenda:
This is a good one - My friend Luis back home sends me a text to try and tee it up, he owns the Lighthouse Oyster Bar & Grill in Oceanside (and if you’re ever in Oside, it’s killer). I text him back "Sorry bro in St. Andrews, raincheck"…then he texts back, "that’s crazy cause my friend Micah (lead singer of the band Iration) is in St. Andrews and I’ll connect you guys by text".
Two minutes later Micah text me and says he’s looking for a game on Wednesday, and I say perfect cause we’re playing the 150 year old Lundin Links and we need a 4th so come join us. Unbeknownst to me Micah is a golf junkie…he went in the singles line for the Old Course twice on this trip and lined up at 3AM both times and got out! Plus, his wife Chloe is Scottish and super cool.
OK, so Micah and I play with Luis and Ben from Trendy and have an absolute blast on a perfect day and then go in the clubhouse for a pint and talk golf and life, etc. It so happens we’re both going over to East Lothian for a couple of days and Micah says he has a time at North Berwick on Friday and has a spot- to which I say “I’m in.” We proceed to meet up at North Berwick and play a three ball with Simon Holt of Connoisseur Golf and again, another freaking incredible day of Links golf!! So lucky to be alive. Although, I pump 2 OB at the last to the right and if you’ve played there you’ll know what I mean…I got greedy and try and drive the green with a strong left to right wind…ya, I was looking good until then, but after that hole I was buying the pints. Happily, I might add.
Now, the funny thing about this story is I had just barely known of Iration. I had heard a few songs and had liked them, but hadn’t really gotten that into it as I’m always listening to different playlists, etc… But it was great getting to know Micah while playing a couple of rounds. We’re both pretty mellow, but like to grind on the course. Both love Links golf…he’s a legit 3 handicap and struck me as a happy-go-lucky, big Hawaiian mild-mannered golf nerd, and I just really liked the guy. Thought he was the lead singer but wasn’t sure if he played an instrument. Then, as fate would have it, Iration happened to be playing at the Del Mar race track the Saturday night after we got back from Scotland. He asked some friends and I if we were up for going to the show. Of course I said yes, that would be great. Still, unsure what I was walking into.... But that night I go to this show and witness my new Linksoul friend completely ROCKING the joint!! 20,000 people were on their feet and all fired up! I don’t know what I was expecting but it exceeded it by a bunch. The dude is a full on rock star!...It was so cool to tee it up and spend time on the Links in Scotland and then watch him do his magic on the stage. I told him I’m now a groupie. Check out their new album if you haven’t already.
Day 4: Thursday : Meet up with Geoff / Scout for photo shoot
I drive back over to pick up Geoff from the Edinburgh airport and then head over to set up in an Airbnb in North Berwick to hang for a few days and try and knock out an impromptu guerrilla style photo shoot. This was where the ‘winging it’ part of the trip was about to get good. I told Geoff ‘leave it to me’ I’ll find a decent looking guy to use as our model because we were getting down to the wire on a catalog going to press and needed some interesting images of our Fall ’18 clothing.
So… this is pretty classic - when I arrived initially on Monday and got my rental car I noticed the guy helping me at the counter was perfect sample size plus he had a good look to him…a boyish smile but in his early twenties. Trying not to come off as a creepy old guy I told him we were here to do a clothing photo shoot and would he have any interest in helping us out? To which he replied sure and that if we could do it Saturday afternoon he was free - Bingo! Model Recruitment - check that box.
Geoff and I set up camp at our sweet pad on High Street in North Berwick and go take a stroll around the kid’s course at North Berwick which never ceases to inspire and make you feel good about the world.
Day 5: Friday : North Berwick West Links with Micah and Simon
Can’t remember what else we did on that day but it doesn’t matter, I didn’t take many photos for some reason. I’m sure it was fun but the highlight was going out and back on North Berwick’s famous West Links. It’s an absolute gem!
Day 6: Saturday : Archie, Musselburgh and a photo shoot with Luke the Avis counter guy.
Archie Baird is a bit like Yoda, a golf Jedi with a strong force. I was lucky to spend many incredible and enjoyable days with him on Gullane Hill or Muirfield. He loved teaching any golfer who made their way to his museum, The History of the Game. Archie would freely pass on his wisdom and he was a reservoir of facts and knowledge on the game. Unfortunately at the age of 94 he has been affected by Dementia. But, we were able to go and visit him and his wife Sheila, who was amazing and was helping finish his sentences and communicate with us for him. Not knowing when we would ever be back in the area, it was nice to spend some time to say good bye. His parting shot to us was absolutely classic and words for everyone to live by. We had been there for about 45 minutes and in that time he was happy and smiling although couldn’t finish a sentence, but, as we left I said "Have a great day, Archie," to which he raised his hand in a fist, high in the air, and said with vigor “Everyday is a Great Day!”….Needless to say Geoff and I got goosebumps and it made our trip complete. We were so pumped and had about 3 hours to kill, that we drove down to Mussleburgh Links which is the Cradle of Golf, and played nine holes. Then made our way back to North Berwick and had a fantastic photo shoot with our BMX rider and Avis car rental guy. His father plays golf, and after a few holes on the kids course, he said he wants to start playing golf again.
Scotland came through as it always does - Inspired and ready to promote the Soul of the Game.
What's in John's suitcase:
"Day time, night time, if it's too hot or cold, I'll be prepared. Workout short in case I go for a jog."
LS676 in Mist: https://linksoul.com/products/ls676
LS692 in Grey: https://linksoul.com/products/ls692
LS1165 in Seaside Heather: https://linksoul.com/products/ls1165
LS651 in Black: https://linksoul.com/products/ls651
LS536 in Black: https://linksoul.com/products/ls536
LS6100 in Black: https://linksoul.com/products/ls6100
LS316 in Black Heather & Natural heather: https://linksoul.com/products/ls316
LS661 in Olive & Grey Mist: https://linksoul.com/products/ls661 "One light, one dark. That's how I roll." - John
LS656 in True Black: https://linksoul.com/products/ls656