On October 20, 2022, twelve of us met (many for the first time), in Carnoustie to begin what was going to be the start of what many of the participants called a trip of a lifetime to the birthplace of golf and curling. The next 9 days would be filled with curling, golf, Advil, adventure and laughter as we curled in an amazing international bonspiel and golfed our way around some of the finest links courses in the world.
We swept a lot, and we swung a lot – a perfect October in Scotland!
2021 was supposed to be the year for our Bi-Annual Sweep and Swing Tour but we all know what happened over those terrible 2 years we all want to forget! We finalized the dates in the spring of 2022 and as the trip filled up, the anticipation built over the summer months as we all fine tuned our golf games for the trip and tried to throw a few rocks at the local curling rinks before the big trip. When October 20 arrived, and we were all in Scotland meeting each other (many for the first time), we were ready for an amazing trip and Scotland did not disappoint!!
Our 9-day trip saw us playing 6 rounds of golf wrapped around a 2-day international bonspiel and consensus was it could not have been any better.
Golf and curling weren’t what made all the fun though.
Golf and curling weren’t what made all the fun though.
Many of you reading this will have played some of the courses we got to play (Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and St Andrews New Course amongst them), the hotels we stayed at (Carnoustie Golf Hotel and The Rusacks in St Andrews) have been reviewed in the past (Although The Rusacks has recently been refurbished and the upgrades and renovations have really added to this already world class hotel) so rather than recapping all of that for this article, we decided to ask a couple of questions of the participants and see what they had to say about the 2022 Sweep and Swing.
Why did you sign up for the Sweep and Swing and did it meet your expectations?
“I had always wanted to go back to Scotland on a golf trip but to find the group of guys interested is always a challenge. Then I saw the Sweep and Swing brochure (not sure how - must of been researching golf travel) thought this would be a unique opportunity being a golfer and curler. What really sealed the deal is that I did not have to round up others to go..I could sign up as a single.. Now for anyone that is a little nervous of having an adventure like this let me tell you it worked out great.. Golfers and curlers are friendly outgoing people and maybe our group was unique but singles and pairs fit together well.”
What did you think of the Forfar Invitational Bonspiel? What was your favourite curling memory?
“reminds me of the 1 day senior spiels that are not super competitive but just good fun and meeting new people. Bonus of getting to play with the pros and hanging out with the group…a unique team atmosphere.”
“enjoyed curling at Forfar even though I hadn’t curled in many years. I can now say I used to curl with Glenn Howard (LOL) although he would never admit he curled with me Ha Ha .- Curling highlight: becoming a “Made Curler”” (We can’t tell you what that is, you need to join us to experience it yourself and join the club of “Made Curlers”)
What was your favourite course we played?
“Kingsbarns for the views and atmosphere… but each course had its uniqueness… the flat links courses of St Andrews and Carnoustie are what you come to Scotland to experience.”
“Kingsbarns was my favourite for a number of reasons. I loved all the courses and the historical significance, but Kingsbarns is the one I want to play again the most.”
Best memories from the trip:
“..not really one but what I remember most is how the group right from the airport on day 1 bonded and socialized together…we still are on the Whats App chat even today..”
"The many cocktails or 5 bottles of wine shared with an incredible group of people. Talking curling with Wayne, Glenn and Sherry was pretty amazing too."
“For me it was the comeradery that developed early and was sincere. I had non-golf/curling chats with every single person that were interesting and thoughtful.”
“The Closing dinner on the Top of Rusacks. Wandering the Auld Grey Toon , St Andrews Ruins and University…”
“I think the funniest thing for me was trying to figure out the shower in Carnoustie, not a golf or curling event but all the photos in the chat with different taps and the diagrams were hilarious!!”
We had such a great group of people. I was over in Ireland and Scotland a bit early so I missed the gathering in Toronto airport (for those leaving from there) but by all accounts everyone actively looked for each other, got together and started the trip with a bit of an impromptu part that never really ended the whole trip.
I was impressed with how much everyone wanted to spend time together. There was plenty of free time and built into the trip but on most days, everyone wanted to stay together, enjoy the local towns, pubs, sites, and just enjoy time with each other. While obviously there for the golf and curling experience, it was really apparent that the off ice and off course fun became equally important to the overall experience for everyone involved.
As always, the hospitality in Scotland was amazing.
The curling took place at Forfar Sports and as always, Mike and the team made the event special for all of us. He made the whole group feel like celebrities, not just our pros, and the group insisted he and his wife join us at 18 at the Rusacks for our closing dinner as special guests. One of the best parts was that the only time it really rained the whole trip was during the curling, and fair to say no one cared as we were far too busy enjoying the curling and making new friends from not only Scotland, but also with the 3 Swiss Teams that joined the bonspiel. Our 3 teams all did pretty well although Team Glenn Howard came out on top of the Canadian contingent with second place overall in the bonspiel.
Golf in Scotland is always a treat and this year was no exception as the courses were in immaculate shape. We were there just a couple of short weeks after the Dunhill Cup and Carnoustie and Kingsbarns were in perfect shape, and the other Carnoustie course - along with the New and Jubilee courses in St Andrews - delivered great experiences.
All 6 rounds of golf were played in great weather (shorts were worn by many on multiple occasions and a patio was used for out post game drinks after we were all beaten up by Carnoustie) with mid teens temps, sun and just a couple of holes of rain – ideal! We held some friendly daily competitions with fun prizes from the courses we were playing and even had some week long golf prizes for some top stableford scores of the week – nothing serious and it made for extra fun each evening when we announced the daily prizing at the bar or restaurant!
We had some amazing meals, including a post round lunch and beverages with Eve Muirhead who happened to be playing St Andrews on the same day we played the New Course.
We snuck in a distillery tour at Kingsbarns Distillery after golfing at Kingsbarns and in St Andrews, along with the obligatory pictures on the Swilken Bridge, a couple of the participants even decided the weather was perfect for a dip in the sea.
I think what still amazes me the most about the trip is how much everyone wanted to spend time together. There was plenty of free time built into the trip but on most days, everyone wanted to stay together, enjoy the local towns, pubs, sites, and just enjoy each other's company. While everyone was obviously there for the golf and curling experience, it was really apparent that the off ice and off course fun became equally important to the overall experience for everyone involved. At writing this, we are 6 or 7 weeks removed from the trip and there are still almost daily posts on our group WhatsApp – the group really bonded!
The 2022 addition of the Sweep and Swing is over, but we are already looking forward to the 2024 version, which will include a lot of the same elements, but also a few tweaks to the itinerary that will make an already great event even better. We expect a few of the past participants will join us but there will be room for many more of you to experience this unforgettable tour.
Keep an eye out for the details in the February Newsletter and until then, happy golfing (if you're lucky enough to be in warm weather) and curling!