From Loch Lomond, to Lundin Links and Turnberry to Troon, Ernie Payne has played them all. And I do mean them all.
On October 19 2006, Ernie sunk a putt at Kingsbarns? magnificent 18th green to complete an odyssey that had begun 577 courses and 23 years earlier.
This 10-handicapper from Renfrewshire is now sitting back and telling anyone who will listen that he has played every single known golf course in Scotland ? well, he hopes he has.
?I really want to hear from anyone who feels I have missed some out, so far I have got loads of great feedback and not one person has mentioned a course that isn?t on my list but I am sure it will happen at some point!? said Ernie.
In a strange twist of fate the challenge started because of the fact that Ernie finally got on Muirfield, a course that he had found notoriously difficult to play. As such he kept his card and the snowball started its long and winding roll towards Kingsbarns. He has since kept every single card and has plenty of stories to tell his three grandchildren.
?It has taken 23 years and probably cost me £12,000 but its not been about the money, it is just a great satisfaction to have completed all the courses ? I have really enjoyed every second,? Ernie said. ?My wife did take up the game for a while but I suppose you would call her a golf widow now. I do leave her my credit cards and the grandchildren and she is quite happy!?
Ernie has been in love with the game since he and his brother George, now a Scottish Senior International, learnt the game at an early age from their father. A job in a sales firm, first with a Swedish company and then with a Japanese firm, has given him plenty of scope for travel and plenty of afternoons to slip off and tick another box. ?Work has been great to me, lots of business days and even more so it has just been a case of me being in the right place at the right time,? Ernie admitted. It has also helped that he has a close connection to the infamous James Braid ? not only is he a member of the society but his brother is married to Braid?s granddaughter!
Incredibly, Ernie has managed to maintain an extremely high standard of golf throughout his quest. His handicap has hovered between 8 and 11 ? with a 71 at his own course being the highlight of all those thousands of miles he has trod.
It might be no surprise that Turnberry, Carnoustie, Loch Lomond and Kingsbarns are at the top of Ernie?s list but it is a little surprising when he is pushed for his most difficult track; the Isle of Coll. ?Well when we played it had lay dormant for a year, the greens weren?t cut, the holes had shrunk, the greens were covered with animal droppings, the tee boxes and yardage markers were missing and there was not a flag to be found on the whole course!?
Ernie knows that the Ultimate Challenge has never really ended, despite the ceremony at a wild and wet Kingsbarns ? in the home of golf the sport never stops growing and Ernie already has plans for six new courses that are scheduled to open in 2007. It never rains but it pours!
If anyone wants to exchange stories, ideas or even challenge Ernie, please contact him on 01505346211