Of Turnberry and Nicklaus vs. Watson

Written by Charlie Epps on 01 July 2009.

Of all the courses in the rotation for the British Open, Turnberry, the site of this year's championship, is my second-most favorite. I absolutely love the place. For me, it's second only to the Old Course at St. Andrews for British Open venues, and golf doesn't get more special than the Old Course at St. Andrews.

The most memorable British Open at Turnberry had to be in 1977, when Jack Nicklaus had a three-shot lead with five holes to go over Tom Watson.

It was another great rivalry and another great duel on that Sunday in July, as history would tell us.

Tom Watson won that day. Watson and Nicklaus turned it into a two-man fight as they battled it out on the weekend and each posted scores of 65 and 66, something like that.

Ultimately, Watson won with a beautiful birdie on the 72nd hole.

That evening, Jack Nicklaus was surrounded by his family and friends. He lost the tournament, but he had to be the one to pick all their spirits up...they were all sad. He told them it was just another golf tournament. He told them to keep their heads up.

After the Masters this year, Kenny Perry said he went through the same thing with his family. Everyone around him was so down and depressed that he let that two-shot lead with two holes to play get away. Then he had to console his family after the affair.

It's amazing how these pros can keep things in perspective. Most golfers who suffer a devastating loss like Nicklaus did that day in 1977 very seldom recover. A loss like that can crush a man.

Perry told us this year it took him three years to get over the loss he suffered to Mark Brooks at the PGA Championship at Valhalla in 1996.

Hopefully, Kenny Perry can do what Nicklaus did following his loss to Watson. Nicklaus went back across the pond and won the 1978 British Open. That's what I call a good bounce-back. Maybe Kenny Perry can do the same.

So this year, get ready for a great old shootout at Turnberry. The players love the course. When Greg Norman won his British Open in 1993 it

was at Turnberry, and he shot 63 in the first round. The course plays hard and fast. It's not tricky and the players love that.

Oh, and by the way, don't sell this year's Masters champion short, either. My amigo and

student Angel Cabrera might just be there at the end. He's always present.

Having played Turnberry many times, it's always fun to play a course where you watch a British Open played. You can pretend that you're Greg Norman or Jack Nicklaus (or Tiger or Phil today) as you walk toward the beautiful clubhouse that sits atop on a hill—a structure that was used as a hospital during World War II. Now you can enjoy the beautiful vista as you hear the bagpipers and daydream in the afternoon.

Turnberry is on Scotland's west cost, about 60 miles from Glasgow. It's south of Troon, another British Open site. It's also close to the famous Prestwick, where the early Opens were held.

My best memory of Turnberry is playing the golf course with my daughters, Mimi and Nona,

in 1995. The interesting thing is that they both loved it as much as I do, and when Nona became engaged, her first choice for her wedding was Turnberry. She loved it so much there, she wanted to be wed there. It didn't happen...she had to

settle for Pebble Beach.

I told her we can't always get everything we want. But it was a beautiful ceremony, overlooking Stillwater Bay. Pebble Beach is amazing, but so is Turnberry. I have a feeling it's going to be another great championship.