Monday, August 25, 2008

The Large Lady of Perth

After Don Kennington sold his veterinary practice, he turned his interests toward helping manage his wife’s art business and playing golf. Don’s office was the Tartan Grill located inside the Dothan Country Club. Well, at least that is where you would find him when he wasn’t playing golf. For several years running, Don and his wife Dale would combine vacations in Europe with Dale’s art work. At the time, Dale was a renowned oil portrait painter. With her she would take a portfolio of client’s photos to use in painting her subjects while on their long summer vacations, each year to a different country. While Dale painted, Don would play golf. One year Don rented space from Ian Brown a hotel owner who Don had gotten to know while staying at The Auchterarder House in Auchterarder, Scotland. As Mr. Brown also owned a small hotel in Callander, Scotland, Don made connections and rented quarters for he and Dale to live there for the summer they spent in Scotland. In Callander, Don joined the Callander Golf Club as a temporary member for the summer. When it came time for our annual trip, Don met the group in Edinburgh where we played courses around St Andrews and Auchterarder.

On this trip, Don rented cars in Edinburgh for our group with each car carrying three golfers and their gear. Harry Howell and I were passengers in a car driven by Lamar Miller. Lamar and Harry had orders from their wives for particular items of crystal that they could only find in a larger town than Auchterarder. We were scheduled to have Scottish opponents of similar handicaps to ours playing in a tournament that day around noon at Callander Golf Club. We left the caravan headed for Callander and detoured toward Perth where the mandatory purchases were hopefully to be made. Perth was a busy place and we liked never to have found a parking place in the bustling downtown shopping area. After maneuvering the heavy traffic and finding the appropriate store in which to make their purchases, we were running late in meeting our deadline arrival time at Callander. As we reentered our car after the purchases, Lamar pulled out into the traffic. He paused at a corner and looked both ways; however, Lamar apparently did not notice a traffic light positioned in an unfamiliar place. It had turned red without Lamar’s noticing. As he saw the traffic clear to his right Lamar gave the car the gas and began to move. Suddenly a loud yell caught all of our attention. To our left, a large woman pedestrian had the green light to cross the street and had begun her steps toward the other side. Thankfully Lamar had moved slowly but there was a big thud as the large lady slammed the hood of the car with her hands and body. There was a loud verbal barrage that ensued from this large lady’s vocal chords with all of them being directed at Lamar. We were all breathless that we had hit this lady but relieved when we saw that she continued her journey across the street apparently not physically injured from the incident.

Relieved that the purchases had successfully been made and we had not killed anyone, we headed toward the town of Callander. We made it to Callander with little time to spare grabbing a sandwich in the club on our way to the first tee. My Scottish opponent that day was named Ian. Ian had spent his career in Africa as an agent for a shipping company and had come home to Scotland to retire. As I met Ian, I could see that he was very excited to be playing this match. At the time I carried a quite high handicap and so did Ian. I would discover the reason that Ian was so excited was that members of the club were not allowed to play the metal tees during regular rounds. These tees are specifically reserved for competitions, and since high handicappers rarely participate in this kind of match, Ian had never before played these tees. I still did not recognize the significance of this until later in our round. Hole fifteen at Callander was a par three whose tee box was nestled in a tunnel of large trees. The member’s tees are located at the front outlet of the tunnel so Ian had never been afforded the opportunity of negotiating a shot from the back of this narrow tunnel (see photo). This day Ian got his chance.

The match that day went well. Our group lost to the locals as we probably should have, but we all enjoyed a unique experience. We were shown great hospitality all day but when we finished putting out on number nine green we were in for a special treat. Here we were met by an old Scotsman, well into his eighties, who stood proudly with two items. He had a large flask which held his favorite Scotch whiskey and a metal tin box. The old man offered each of us a “tablet” which we would find was home made chocolate fudge candy and a drink from his flask. The candy was great. I did not have the nerve to drink from the community flask.

The next year when we stayed at the Auchterarder House in the large hallway of the hotel hung a very large painting of the proprietor, Mr Ian Brown. In the right hand bottom corner of the painting was the name of the painter, Dale Kennington!

I would later take my family back to this great Manor Hotel. It was a really nice hotel but very expensive. At Gleneagles, my son and I would have a match with a father and son team who were members of Gleneagles. As guests we each played this now very expensive course for just 15 Pounds Sterling each. This was thanks to arrangements made by Mr. Michael Halley owner of Gleneagles Knitware Company.

As you might guess, Michael was a friend of Don Kennington.
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