It worked for Brandon Stone when he won the Scottish Open at nearby Gullane in the summer and now Gary Orr is hoping that experiencing golf from the hickory era will also “rub off” on him in this week’s Scottish Seniors Open at Craigielaw.
After closing with a course-record 60 to claim his four-shot victory on the East Lothian coast in July, Stone revealed he’d been helped in that final round by practising the night before with an old wedge purchased from the Jack White Hickory Shop in Gullane.
“That has got zero bounce on it, so the moment you get a little bit of bounce [with a modern wedge] you feel like you can conquer the world,” said the South African as he savoured the biggest triumph of his career in the European Tour’s Rolex Series event.
Orr, one of five players flying the Saltire in the 26th staging of the Scottish Seniors Open, was told about Stone’s story by Boris Leitzow, owner of that shop in Gullane, as he joined Englishman Paul Eales and Swede Jarmo Sandelin in a four-hole hickory challenge on Craigielaw’s academy course.
That was won by Orr despite breaking one club as he hit a tee shot close at the third then, following another exquisite blow at the last, having to use a wedge from no more than six feet as he found himself “stymied” by Sandelin’s ball.
“That was great fun,” admitted the 51-year-old Helensburgh man afterwards. “I had a couple of hickory clubs when I started playing golf – but that was more than 40 years ago! The first couple of shots were a bit strange today, but once you get used to them they are nice to hit.
“Boris, the guy who owns the hickory shop in Gullane, was telling me that Brandon Stone was in buying some clubs the week of the Scottish Open then went out and won it after spending some time practising with his hickory clubs in the garden. Hopefully that rubs off on me this week!”
In an event that has a strong Ryder Cup flavour – former world No 1 Ian Woosnam is among 14 players competing who faced the Americans in the biennial contest – Orr is hoping to land his maiden victory in the over-50s ranks.
The two-time European Tour winner has been knocking at the door, having finished second and fourth in his last two events. In fact, he’s finished outside the top 30 just once in 19 starts on the Staysure Tour and was third behind Paul Broadhurst on his debut in this event at The Renaissance Club last year.
“There was a three-year gap between me finishing on the regular Tour and starting on this Tour, so I wasn’t sure how my game would be out here,” said Surrey-based Orr, who is joined in flying the home flag by Gordon Brand jnr, Andrew Oldcorn, Ross Drummond and Stephen McAllister. “But I’m really happy about how it’s gone, to be honest. I’ve had a lot of good finishes and been quite consistent.
“I’m probably not as sharp as I was on the regular Tour and that’s probably down to the fact that we don’t play as much out here. However, it’s not miles away from what it was at the peak of my career.
“It would be ideal if I could get that breakthrough win here this week – and sometimes these things do happen. It would be a perfect scenario, so fingers crossed. If I can play like I have the last couple of tournaments, then hopefully I can be there or thereabouts.”