David Mclay Kidd: The Scottish course architect and Oregon resident talks travel
I immediately try to figure out whether I'm sitting next to the boring golf nut who is going to ask me about my favorite 50 courses or my top 100 holes.
If I think I'm next to that guy, I put the earphones on and go to sleep. But if I'm sitting next to someone reading a book on, say, solid rocket fuel propulsion, I'm thinking that person might be interesting—so I'll talk golf if you tell me why you're reading a book about rocket fuel.
I sat next to a guy once who was the lead designer for the Sidewinder rocket. He wouldn't tell me at first what he did. So he gave me a riddle, saying that he made a product that the end user never wants but the buyer can watch leave at Mach 4. I figured it out and we had a great chat.
Sometimes language barriers get in the way.
The words "yes" and "no" can mean completely different things in northern and southern Europe. In the north, yes and no mean exactly that. In southern Europe, yes means, "Yes, I've heard you. But I probably don't agree." And they don't know the word "no"—no one ever says that.
Some people recognize me on the road.
I was walking through Chicago O'Hare once and four guys standing at a bar shouted my name and called me over. I'm terrible with names and faces, so I went over thinking, who the hell is this? They bought me a beer and asked me if I was headed to Bandon. I actually was, so we chatted away.
As it turns out, they didn't know me—they had been reading the book Dream Golf (about the building of Bandon Dunes, where Kidd designed the original course in 1999), saw my picture and noticed me wandering by. It was pure coincidence. As a golf course designer, you get a tiny little bit of what it must be like to be well known. I'd rather have it that way around than the other. Never being recognized is not good for business.
Favorite Airport: Denver ("It's laid out well, and it's not too huge.")
Least Favorite Airport: Los Angeles ("I feel like a rat there.")
Always Bring: Passport, iPad and bag of electronic gear (chargers, adapters, wires and USB port).
First Flight: Glasgow to Rome, as a 13-year-old on vacation.
Longest Flight: London to Sydney, Australia, via Kuala Lumpur (10,663 miles/30 hours).
Favorite Journey: In Scotland, driving from Glasgow to Machrihanish along the famed Mull of Kintyre; in Oregon, driving from Bend over the Cascade Mountain Range and down the coast to Bandon Dunes.
Jet Lag Cure: Until I stopped drinking four years ago, I was convinced doing a lot of that was a hard reset for the brain. Now, no alcohol is almost as good as too much. It's the in-between amounts that get you in trouble.
Wish List: I'm heading to Australia this spring, so I'll finally get to play many of the great courses between Melbourne and Sydney.
Take It From Me: When in Scotland, in addition to playing golf, visit Stirling Castle and the William Wallace Monument.