Latitude: 52 degrees, 2 minutes, 5 and a half seconds North.
Longitude: 2 degrees, 50 minutes, 43 and three-eighths seconds West.
It’s the first of October, 2019 and I’m standing atop Gullane Hill on the seventh tee of Gullane Golf Club’s No. 1 Course. I’m just 200 feet above sea level but it might as well be a mile for all I can see.
Immediately ahead is 400 yards of par 4, dropping 70 feet. But I can’t concentrate on that, not yet, because I’m overwhelmed by everything else in view. In a country dotted with dozens of landmarks of this great game, the feeling that I am somewhere transcendent – almost holy – is rushing into me. From this perched patch of sod, I have a 360-degree view of hundreds of square Scottish miles.
Parts of eight golf courses reveal themselves. Gullane’s three courses, plus mysterious Luffness New Golf Club, all share the Hill, wrapping themselves around her sides when they’re not careening headlong over her.
A click southward, Hill gives way to Firth and Firth to Aberlady Bay. On the far shore, kindly Kilspindie and her much younger neighbor, Craigielaw. It is a brilliant fall day, and as I follow the Firth’s southern shore I can see all the way to Edinburgh: the cargo yards of Leith and, 22 miles west of where I stand, the silhouette of the Forth Bridge.
I could linger all day but they play fast here, and the fairway is clear. Dozens of other golfers drift back and forth over the links below. They’re miles away and right beside me, brothers and sisters in the ever-unfolding odyssey of club, ball and cup.
I won’t be here for long, but right now, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I flare a drive into the fescue and start making my way down from the most beautiful place I have stood in golf.