What to write about this week? Well, I’ve polished up the trusty winter boots, taken them to our long-suffering, ever-accommodating professionals – nothing is too much trouble – and had some new, proper, old-fashioned spikes put in, ready for the out-of-lockdown off next week.
I hate soft spikes in the winter, don’t you? They don’t give enough grip, they get clogged up too easily – even Whittington’s been a bit mucky lately – and that makes them positively lethal, plus they don’t make that wonderfully evocative, click-clackety noise as you’re walking to the 1st tee.
People are champing at the bit to get back out on the course, so we’ve introduced 8-minute intervals – down from 10, a very civilised gap – and are asking people to play in fourballs if possible, preferably quickly, so everyone has a chance to get in as many holes as they can before it gets dark. I’m out, weather permitting, at 0740 next Wednesday, when golfers in England are allowed on the course again. I’ll be studying Maureen’s tips over the weekend, in the hope of finding the secret and trying to remember where I’ve stashed the clubs….
Or perhaps there’ll be a Black Friday/Weekend/Pandemic deal on a new set?
There’s a question I’ve been meaning to ask for a while but haven’t got around to looking up: what’s the difference between speaking and singing? And, what exactly is a note? Thanks to the inspiring Helen I know a lot more about singing than I used to. For instance, in attempting Over The Sea To Skye the other day I realised that I could hear the waves in the music – well, those of us lacking soul are a bit slow on the uptake – but I also know that I’ll never be a singer, notes are quite beyond me.
It’s a salutary day when a show-off has to concede that she really does have no outlet for her exhibitionist streak. Cue sighs of relief from her family and friends. Until they realise that Tyrrell Hatton is about to launch a John Daly inspired line of multi-coloured hoodies. Hope it’s not just a rumour because if they fit John, they’ll certainly fit me….And, hallelujah, Abba dabba doo, there’s always karaoke of course.
It was pouring with rain in the south of Spain on Thursday, as the LET players sloshed their way round the Real Club De Golf Guadalmina on the first day of the Andalucia Costa Del Sol Open De Espana. It was reminiscent of some of the weather during the Ryder Cup at Valderrama and brought back happy memories of all those tournaments in that neck of the woods and meeting up with the Ancient Britons, family and friends who lived on the Costa del Sol and now live on in our hearts.
Excuse me while I have a bit of a self-indulgent blub but I’ve been softened up, as always, by the late, great Maeve Binchy. A friend lent me her book Evening Class, which I hadn’t read for years and there I was devouring it late into the night, just like the old days, despite swearing that I was only going to read a few pages and WAS NOT going to keep going into the wee small hours. But I did. I’m a sucker for a happy ending and Maeve drags me in every time, the characters so well observed, the dialogue brilliant.
Out in South Africa, at Leopard Creek Country Club, Adrian Meronk, of Poland, was doing a bit of trailblazing. He led the Alfred Dunhill Championship after a first round of 65, to become the first Polish player to hold the lead in a European Tour event at the end of a round. And last Sunday, Ondrej Lieser, of the Czech Republic, won the Challenge Tour Grand Final and topped the Road to Mallorca Rankings. Good golfers are cropping up everywhere, which can’t be anything but good for the game.Dai, who knew a good golfer when he saw one, despite falling a bit short of that category himself, paid a flying visit to Leopard Creek a few years ago, being whizzed the 500-odd miles there and back in Johann Rupert’s private plane. There’s no hanging about if you’re invited to play a few holes with the owner of the course, one of South Africa’s richest men, an entrepreneur with a love of sport.
Not sure if Dai saw a real leopard, the member of the Big Five that is notoriously difficult to spot – even I have seen the other four, elephant, Cape buffalo, lion and rhino, on my one visit to South Africa – but it was a memorable trip nonetheless, not least for its whirlwind quality and he took pictures to prove it. In the bottom two snaps, Johann is, according to Dai’s captions, picking his way back to the 9th hole, which he played, inadvertently, via the 18th.
I think even the professionals find it hard to concentrate on their game at Leopard Creek, which is on the southern border of the Kruger National Park and is a haven for wildlife. It makes perfect telly viewing on a chilly winter’s day, even without David Attenborough to provide the commentary.
Finally, many congrats to Stephanie Meadow on finishing third in the Pelican Women’s Championship in Florida, five shots behind the winner Sei Young Kim and two behind Ally McDonald. Mel Reid continued her good form with a share of 12th place.