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starter's hut

Why golfers can’t wait to leave a mark on this starter’s hut

From Pebble Beach to Pine Valley, Freddie Linton's wall at Western Gailes is immortalised by players from all over the world, as Steve Carroll found out
 

Each tells its own story – and it’s now become a rite of passage to leave one when visiting the starter’s hut at Western Gailes Golf Club.

Freddie Linton’s been welcoming golfers before they start their rounds for three years at the glorious course on the Ayrshire coast.

But these days they spend more time gazing at his board of bag tags than they do picking up a scorecard and learning about the Local Rules.

From Pebble Beach and Pine Valley to Augusta National and Olympic, it’s a collection that spans clubs from all over the world – and players can’t wait to hand one over and add their names to his haul.

“They come from everywhere,” Freddie tells NCG. “See this course here? That’s Old Collier, in Naples.

“They see them and they say, ‘l’ll give you mine!’ This was started before me, but old Henry died. They are from all over.

“It’s unbelievable. There’s one from the Masters, from Pebble Beach.”

Also having pride of place on Freddie’s wonder wall are tags from Winged Foot, Streamsong, Royal North Devon, and nearby Royal Troon, to name just a few.

And as much as it’s about the golfers leaving a memory at the classic Scottish links, it also provides Freddie with a souvenir to help him recall all the people who pass the door – even if it’s just for a minute – at his distinctive hut by the first tee.

Western Gailes

“I used to caddie here, and at Troon and Prestwick, and I was a member at Irvine. I had to give the golf up because my legs would bother me so I took this job and stopped the caddying.

“So it keeps me interested in the game and you meet all sorts of wonderful people.”

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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