The 19th Hole Tournament Announcement

Scotland is the birthplace of whisky without an E, refrigeration, penicillin, TV, the magical story of Peter Pan, and a host of other things I’m personally thankful for. Though, I am most thankful to Scotland for being the birthplace of golf & whiskey (even if the Irish say their monks were on to it first). The legend goes that the reason the game of golf stops at the unusual number of 18 holes was because there are 18 shots in a bottle of whisky. Why would the modern game call each stroke a “shot”? You may have just had an “Hmmmmm” moment, and that’s ok. I had the same feeling many years ago during a Robin Williams skit about golf and Scotland (it’s laced with 4 letter words, but it is hysterical. Go watch it!). Those who play at least 6 rounds of golf per year know the term 19th hole. It’s a place of many shapes, sizes, and colors. It could be the place of triumphant victory, though others are dealing despair and anguish. It’s a place of sorrow or solace; a windowless room or a balcony overlooking the next batch of the downtrodden losers and cheeky winners. The term 19th hole refers to the “watering” hole after a round of golf, and it’s a gathering point for both winner and loser alike. Though you may have lost the round by 1 stroke after a 3 putt on 18, the 19th hole is your last chance to win the day. Some choose beer to help them along, but I tend to trust the people who choose whiskey. For some it tastes better. For others, it’s quicker, and I feel that. The most recent 19th hole for One-Hundred & Twelve Gamecock Bourbon Society members was this past June not far from the Savannah River at the historic Aiken Golf Club. I briefly want to mention some of the history of the Aiken G.C. and its connection to Scotland; the course designer credited for laying the final 7 holes in Aiken around 1915 was John Englis. He had a working/professional relationship with the designer of the world famous Shinnecock Hills, and worked closely with the famous Scottish golf architect, Donald Ross (Pinehurst). At times, people call Aiken Golf Club a Donald Ross design. For that I’m guilty, but it was his disciple, John Englis, who should be credited. As a professional, he taught multiple Open winners, US Amateur winners, and British Amateur winners over his 50-year career, and did not retire until his 80’s.
Ross is important to mention here because he is in most golf historians’ top 5 designers of all time, and to some, the single greatest. Englis no doubt used Ross’ trademark of “naturalness” at Aiken Golf Club, and that was to move as little earth as was needed. In short, to use the topography to your benefit, and to the golfer’s dismay; create inviting wide fairways which make for difficult approach shots or narrow the driving lane causing the golfer to club down, lengthening the hole and its difficulty. If you aren’t a golfer, and are still reading, you should have at least learned that golf isn’t just about hitting the ball in the hole. There is a whole other dimension of nerdiness that comes with it. Again, guilty. In short, the history of the course plays an important role in the experience of 18 holes. Compare viewing an absolutely flawless 2023 painting (new golf course design), to a 175 year old Monet (Aiken Golf Club). Perhaps the new course is better suited for the needs of many or has the modern technology to keep it looking like the gardens of Versailles. That old course though…there is something rustic about it that lures golfers from across the country to enjoy. Getting back to the 19th hole; The Gamecock Bourbon Society’s 19th hole! A round of golf on a great course, twenty exquisitely chosen bourbons from the highest of shelves, 5 Gamecock starting FB players, perfect weather, bottles given away, trophies earned, and many friends made. Each golfer poured their whiskey into a souvenir crystal glass complete with a personalized Aiken Golf Club/Gamecock Bourbon Society logo. Some players had to hit the road early or catch flights, while some settled in for conversation and cut the tips off their cigars that we provided. No pressures from the outside world nor any terrible score just recorded could take away the joy that was on each attendee’s face. The lowest score went home happy, and the highest score went home happy; we awarded the highest score with 4 bottles of allocated Buffalo Trace to help them ease their pain. It couldn’t have gone to 4 better sports, and that is the essence of Golf. Sportsmanship is the cornerstone of the game, and why not take that mentality into everyday meetings with strangers? This was the inspiration for this short article, as the spirit of the Gamecock Bourbon Society is to always communicate through common ground: Gamecocks & Whiskey. Conversations are not always going to be with likeminded individuals who think or look exactly the way you do; remember the 19th hole is shared with winners and losers alike. People who only drink expensive whiskey neat don’t necessarily have their “nose in the air”, and people who drink it with coke aren’t stupid or “wasting” it. Whiskey helps build the foundation, through communication, that allows for two people to have a deeper understanding of one another. Some of my closest friends think the exact opposite of me, even some that were in my wedding, but our bond is closest because of the respect we have for one another to live the life each wants to live and how we want to live it. No matter how differently we think. Shouldn’t that be how you enjoy whiskey? I believe in personal liberty and the freedom to live your life how you see fit, so long as you have respect for others around you. If the topic gets too strong, you be the one to change the subject, with respect, back to what we all love: Gamecocks and Whiskey. I’m certainly not here to preach, but Golf is a game that has unspoken rules of etiquette, and that extends to the 19th hole. My hope is that it extends to the outside world one person at a time, and I want all of our members to know that you will be treated in kind at any Gamecock Bourbon Society event we put on. Mark your calendars for October 27 as our next golf tournament is in the books! We are hosting 100 golfers at 10:00AM at Oak Hills G.C. in Columbia. Stay tuned to our newsletter and sign up for our High Proof Club announcements ( to get all the information regarding the tournament. Spots for foursomes go on sale at noon on Friday, September 1, so mark your calendars! Remember, our last tournament sold out in mere days, so if you want to make sure you can get a foursome in, sign up for notifications, or consider joining our High Proof Club when debuts, for early access to all events! For additional reading on the Aiken Golf Club, we recommend you checkout the article, “Why Aiken Golf Club is the Best Course You’ve Never Heard of.”

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