Dunhill Links blog: Don Felder: day one

Don Felder takes part in the Alfred Dunhill Links Golf Championships on The Old Course at St Andrews. Picture: Getty
Don Felder takes part in the Alfred Dunhill Links Golf Championships on The Old Course at St Andrews. Picture: Getty
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The Old Course has a unique character where it can present itself in four or five different modes.

If the wind is blowing or it’s raining, this can become the most challenging of the three Dunhill courses to play. Having said that, regardless of the wind, rain or whatever conditions I’ve faced playing this course over the years I have never had a bad day here. Today was no exception and we had the added bonus of playing the Old Course when it is at its best: it was clear, sunny and a lovely experience to play, especially in the morning.

We were five under after the front nine which was a great score but our fortunes changed quite dramatically on the way back in. We wound up one under after the back nine, where we were playing into the wind.

My highlight hole today was the par three 11th. I hit a nice seven iron into the wind which landed about 25 feet from the pin. I was the furthest of our fourball from the pin (as I was most of the day!) but sank the putt for a natural birdie. Unfortunately it was one of the holes where I didn’t get an extra shot or I’d have carded a 1. It was just nice to make a long putt on those difficult greens. I celebrated for the next holes which I unfortunately bogied.

Overall I hit some great drives and only ended up in two bunkers which, on the Old Course, is a real achievement. I ended up in the Road Hole bunker but played out on my first try and also found myself playing out of one of the fairway bunkers on the 13th hole.

On to Carnoustie tomorrow, a course I also love to play. It is one of the most intimidating and exciting courses at the same time. It gives you very little room for error – if you fade or hook the ball you will likely be out of play. Although it is the most difficult of the three courses for this tournament, if you play it in good conditions and avoid the high winds you can score well as we saw from some of the pro scores from there today.

Playing golf in Scotland is always an absolute pleasure. These courses have such a heritage to them and it’s a real honour for an American like me to play on them. While I was pleased with today’s round, for me playing here is not about the number that winds up on the end of your card, it’s about the number of laughs and smiles you have throughout the day. Today there were many.

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.