Alan Tait has “dined out” on being the first golfer to shoot 64 at Carnoustie for more than 20 years and will keep “kicking the backside out of it” despite no longer holding the course record for the fearsome Angus course.
Along with Paul Lawrie and Colin Montgomerie, as well as seven others, Tait lost that tag to Tommy Fleetwood as the Englishman carded a stunning nine-under-par 63 in the second round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last Friday.
Tait shot his effort in the 1994 Daily Express Scottish National Pro-Am and never missed an opportunity to let people know about his feat, having used it, in fact, to carve out a successful second career for himself as an after-dinner speaker.
On the back of that, his Facebook page became a frenzy of activity after Fleetwood, playing in the same group as Rory McIlroy, eclipsed Tait’s score as his birdie putt at the last did a full circle around the hole before dropping.
“I was sitting in an Irish bar in Krakow watching the drama unfold,” Tait told The Scotsman. “Everyone in the bar cheered when he holed the putt on 18, bar one! Seriously, though, it was an amazing round of golf from Tommy. Nine-under on any course is truly sensational, but to do it on arguably one of the hardest courses in the world takes a bit of beating.
“My Facebook, text messages, emails went crazy when Tommy holed that putt on 18. Just about every one of them said how gutted and sad they were for me. As much as I appreciated all the messages, I found it quite funny. I don’t see it like this at all and I actually think I’m almost less gutted than most of the well wishers.
“I shot the course record of 64 in 1994 and undoubtedly was, and still is, the greatest round of golf in my life which obviously I’ll never forget. Looking back at all the greats who played Carnoustie before 1994, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Nick Faldo, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, I’m still almost in shock 23 years later that big Taity was the first man ever to shoot 64 off the championship tees over this incredibly tough course. I still lie awake some nights wondering if it actually happened.”
Tait, who still plays occasionally on the Tartan Tour but is mainly occupied these days with his role as general manager at Deer Park Golf & Country Club in Livingston, added: “I have lovely memories of Jock MacVicar, the golf correspondent with the Scottish Daily Express and still going strong at 80, getting quite emotional when he interviewed me at the back of the 18th green ten minutes after I had finished my round.
“I remember him saying, ‘this is brilliant, all these greats before you and one of our own, a big daft lad from Ayrshire, is the first man to shoot 64 over Carnoustie, I’m loving this’…. It was a memorable moment seeing Jock almost welling up.” Tait’s effort was matched by Lawrie, Montgomerie, Steve Stricker, Richard Green, Peter O’Malley, Thomas Levet, Shane Lowry, Oliver Wilson and Alex Noren before Fleetwood, this year’s Race to Dubai leader, finally went one better with an effort that contained nine birdies and no bogeys on what, admittedly, was a fairly benign day at the Angus venue, where the Open Championship will be held next July.
“The way the game has changed and with the standard nowadays, I always knew my 64 wouldn’t last forever and I think it will only be a matter of time before someone beats Tommy’s 63,” predicted Tait. “I would have been slightly gutted if someone had beat my 64, say six months later. But, for it to happen 23 years later, well I couldn’t be prouder.
“I thought it would be beaten within five or six years, so to get almost a quarter of a century out of it is more than satisfying to say the least. A good friend texted me over the weekend and said, ‘imagine if you knew when you stood on that first tee 23 years ago, you were going to shoot 64 and it would stand for 23 years’.
“That’s actually hit home with me and I feel a very lucky guy. I’ve dined out on this and kicked the backside out of it for 23 years, and I intend to do the same for the next 23. I’ll no longer be the course record holder, but I’ll always be the first man to shoot 64 over Carnoustie.”
Laughing, he added: “In any case, all things considered, I think my 64 is better than Tommy’s 63. Persimmon drivers, balata balls and castle tees, I rest my case!”