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Golf curse landscape in Scotland


Great Scot

Linksoul CEO John Ashworth brings us on a golfing tour of Scotland.

By John Ashworth

Great Scot

By John Ashworth

What’s it like to shoot on location in a foreign country? To find out, we tailed Linksoul founder John Ashworth all the way to North Berwick, Scotland for a behind-the-scenes look at the brand’s Fall 2018 lookbook shoot. From scouting last-minute models at the airport to running into rock stars on the course, it’s a real trip from start to finish. 

Returning to the Roots

I used to spend loads of time in Scotland back in the 90’s, actually living there for a couple of years and wearing out the great links on the East Coast. It had been 10 years since my last visit. When a sales partner asked if I could tag along for a small show in St Andrews, they didn’t have to twist my arm. I decided to parlay the trip into a photo shoot in North Berwick and have Geoff Cunningham, my Linksoul co-conspirator and photographer, meet me there. Oh, and maybe we’d play some golf and meet some new people along the way, of course...

Day One: Edinburgh to St. Andrews

I had told Geoff, “Leave it to me, I’ll find a decent looking guy to use as our model.” When I arrived in Edinburgh and got my rental car, I noticed the guy helping me at the counter was perfect sample size, plus he had a good look to him – early 20s with a boyish smile. Trying not to come off as a creepy old guy, I told him I was there to do a clothing photo shoot and would he have any interest in helping us out? To which he replied, sure – and that if we could do it Saturday afternoon, he was free. Bingo! Model recruitment, check.

I met up with our sales partner at the show to meet some potential customers and brief them on Linksoul’s story and products. Later on, after a pint of lager, I went out for a stroll on the Old Course at St. Andrews. It was a spectacular evening to study the routing and the bunkers while not playing, but just watching others take it on. It couldn’t have been more enjoyable.

Day Two: Kingsbarns

More show stuff and meetings with some of the best resorts and golf courses in the UK. Then, 3:30 P.M. tee time at Kingsbarns Golf Links with the sales guys (who, by the way, can flat-out play golf), plus a friendly local who played amazingly with a hickory-shafted set. My niece Rachel works as the social media director for this partner, so it was a bonus to spend some time together. She also did an interview with me, which was fun and a little weird. Pints and great food rounded out a perfect day.

Day Three: Lundin Golf Club

We got the green light to play Lundin Golf Club, a sweet, quirky links course that turned 150 years old this year. And a crazy “link soul” story takes place that wasn’t on the agenda. 
My friend from back home in Oceanside, California sends me a text to try and tee it up. I text him back "Sorry, bro, in St. Andrews. Rain check?" Then he texts back, "That’s crazy, ‘cause my friend Micah (Pueschel, lead singer of the band Iration) is in St. Andrews, and I’ll connect you guys by text.”

Two minutes later, Micah texts me and says he’s looking for a game. I say perfect, because we need a fourth, and invite him to come join us. Micah is a golf junkie…he lined up at 3:00 A.M. in the singles line for the Old Course twice on this trip! Plus his wife, Chloe, is Scottish and super cool. We have an absolute blast and then go to the clubhouse for a pint and talk golf and life.

Now, the funny thing about this story is that I had just barely known of Iration. I had heard a few songs and had liked them, but hadn’t really gotten that into it. But it was great getting to know Micah while playing a couple of rounds. We’re both pretty mellow, but like to grind on the course. He’s a legit 3 handicap and struck me as a happy-go-lucky, mild-mannered, big Hawaiian golf nerd, and I just really liked the guy. Thought he was the lead singer, but wasn’t sure if he played an instrument.

As fate would have it, Iration happened to be playing in Del Mar the week after we got back from Scotland. Micah asked some friends and I if we were up for going to the show. Of course I said yes, unsure what I was walking into... I go to this show and witness my new friend completely rocking the joint! 20,000 people were on their feet and all fired up. The dude is a full on rock star! It was so cool to spend time on the links in Scotland, and then watch him do his magic onstage. I told him I’m now a groupie.

Day Four: North Berwick

I drive back to Edinburgh to pick up Geoff from the airport. We head over to an Airbnb in North Berwick, where we’ll hang for a few days and try and knock out an impromptu guerrilla-style photo shoot. This is where the ‘winging it’ part of the trip is about to get good.

Geoff and I set up camp at our sweet pad on High Street in North Berwick and take a stroll around the children’s course at North Berwick. Visiting a kids’ course never ceases to inspire and make you feel good about the world.

Day Five: North Berwick West Links

It so happens that Micah has a time at North Berwick West Links on Friday – to which I say, “I’m in.” We meet up and play another freaking incredible day of links golf. So lucky to be alive. Although, I pump two out of bounds to the right at the last hole… if you’ve played there, you’ll know what I mean. I got greedy and tried and drive the green with a strong left-to-right wind. Yeah, I was looking good until then, but after that hole, I was buying the pints. Happily, I might add. The course is an absolute gem!

Day Six: Musselburgh Links, a Photo Shoot, and a Goodbye

We had a few hours to kill before our photo shoot, so we drove down to Musselburgh Links (which is the cradle of golf) and played nine holes. We then made our way back to North Berwick and had a fantastic photo shoot with our BMX rider and car rental guy. His father plays golf, and after a few holes on the kids’ course, he said he wants to start playing again himself. 

We also made time for a visit with my friend and mentor, Archie Baird. Archie is a bit like Yoda – a golf Jedi with a strong force. I was lucky to spend many enjoyable days with him on Gullane Hill and Muirfield. He loved teaching any golfer who made their way to his museum, The Heritage of Golf Museum. Archie was a reservoir of facts and knowledge on the game, and he would freely pass along his wisdom.

Unfortunately, at the age of 94, Archie has been affected by dementia. But we were able to go and visit him and his amazing wife, Sheila, who could help him communicate with us. Not knowing when we would ever be back in the area, it was nice to spend some time to say goodbye.

We were there for about 45 minutes, and Archie was happy and smiling, although he couldn’t finish a sentence. As we left, I said, "Have a great day, Archie" – to which he raised his fist high in the air and said with vigor, “Every day is a great day!” Needless to say, Geoff and I got goosebumps. It made our trip complete. Archie’s parting shot to us was absolutely classic and words for everyone to live by.

Scotland came through, as it always does. We left feeling inspired and ready to promote the soul of the game.