In 1889, a group of businessmen from Newcastle, County Down in Northern Ireland paid Old Tom Morris £4 to travel from St. Andrews, Scotland to refine their few golf holes on the rabbit warren along the Irish Sea.
A few months ago, 127 years after Morris visited, that piece of heaven on earth was named the best golf course in the world by Golf Digest.
Royal County Down is spoken of in reverent, hushed tones in the golf world. Open to all who are willing to make the trip off the beaten path to the rugged, otherworldly course, Royal County Down lies in the shadow of an awe-inspiring mountain peak called Slieve Donard and waits to humble and thrill golfers from all over the world.
KEVAN WHITSON made a similar journey to Old Tom’s about 25 years ago, venturing from his golf-rich native Scotland to Newcastle, and has never left. In his time as Head Pro at Royal County Down, he’s hosted all of golf’s elite and a few royals, along with thousands of pilgrims like me. Kevan graciously invited me to sit and talk about the links, the new #1 ranking, and the mark the game has made on his life.