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Quick Questions: Mike Howard

Mike Howard is an alum of the University of Stirling and Edinburgh University and Edinburgh. He is a former R&A golf scholar, having represented Great Britain at the 2016 World Universities’ Golf Championships. Mike currently works as a golf architect for the internationally renowned firm McKenzie & Ebert and has contributed to the recent modernisation of leading courses Turnberry and Royal Portrush.

1 Favourite five
Rank your top five golf courses in Scotland with a one-word explanation of why each course has made it on your list
1. Ailsa @ Trump Turnberry – Breath-taking
2. Old Course @ St Andrews – Spiritual
3. Askernish – Unique
4. Royal Dornoch – Special
5. Cruden Bay – Quirky

2 Groundhog golf
If you could play just one Scottish course, over and over again, which course would you choose and why?
The Old Course – No matter how may times you play it, you will be full of nerves on your first and last shots of the day. The huge variety of lines you can take from the tee and the endless number of pin positions on the enormous but interesting greens mean every round will be different. And you never know, you might get the odd chance to play the course backwards like they used too.

3 Hidden gems
Scotland is full of great courses that hardly anyone has ever heard of – what’s your favourite and what makes it special?
Askernish, and this should be the only answer to this question! The scenery is spectacular to start with, but the sense of playing a course as if it were 1902 make it a special place. It is truly a course played within the landscape. The course (pictured) is grazed by cows throughout the winter, and the fairways and greens have been simply mown out of the dunes. It is quite simply the most special place you can play golf.

4 Links lessons
What’s the single most important piece of advice you’d give to someone who was playing links golf for the first time?
If typical ‘American’ golf is two dimensional, flight and bounce, then I would say links golf is three dimensional, fight, bounce and roll. And the third element of roll is always the most important in links golf. Also, expect your fair share of bad breaks, it is inevitable and there’s nothing you can do about it, so don’t let it get you down.

5 Off course
What’s the one off-course activity that any golfer coming to Scotland should experience?
Whisky tasting

6 This much I know … 
What words of wisdom would you give to a student golfer visiting Scotland?
Take half a set of clubs, and don’t hit any full shots. You will leave the trip with a heightened sense of feel and a better understanding of the game.