This is my ninth year playing in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Although I didn’t make it to last year’s event, this is generally the one week of the year that I block off the calendar.
This tournament is like a family reunion to me, which I look forward to as much as Christmas.
I played my first tournament by chance in 2003. I had come to St Andrews as invited guest of the artist Harold Riley, who has documented the world of golfing for many years. He and I had played in a tournament in Manchester and he’d invited me to St Andrews where we had simply planned to have a walk around and do some drawing. However when I got here the Dunhill organisers told me that a last minute slot had become available and asked if I’d like to play. I had just shipped all my golf clothes and clubs back to Los Angeles but they sent me to the pro shop, fitted me out and the next thing I knew I was playing in this tournament on the Old Course. It just fell into my lap but it was like a dream come true.
In that year (2003) I was in the fourball with Lee Westwood, the eventual winner of the tournament. My all-time great memory of this event was coming up on the 9th hole at Kingsbarns when he made an albatross. There’s a plaque there in the middle of the fairway to commemorate that shot and I’ve threatened many times to put up another one of my own reading: ‘Don Felder was standing right next to Lee Westwood when he made that famous albatross!’
Lee is a lovely guy – we became great friends after that year and still email back and forth. The people that I’ve met at this event – not only the professional golfers but many people I’ve met from all over the world – make this such a delightful experience.
I can stand in front of a crowd of thousands with a guitar in my hand and not bat an eye lid but if you put a golf club in my hand and put me on the first tee with a crowd of people around and my hands start shaking!
Nerves aside, I am really looking forward to teeing off on the Old Course tomorrow morning. This is the home of my own personal Dunhill highlight from a few years back when I played here, all 18 holes, without being in a single bunker, including the one at the Road Hole. No matter what your score, if you don’t see a bunker on the Old Course you are a happy man.
Don Felder biography
Member of American rock band The Eagles from 1974 to 2001. Felder wrote the music for Hotel California, now a classic. He began playing golf when he was on the road in 1978 and now plays at Malibu golf club in Los Angeles. This is his seventh appearance in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Says his greatest moment in golf was playing in the fourball in 2003 when Lee Westwood made his memorable albatross two at the par five 9th hole at Kingsbarns and went on to win the Championship. Other interests include skiing and big game fishing.