Some of you have been in touch to request some more indoor tips as we wend our weary way through another tedious lockdown. I promise there will be some soon but meanwhile I got a bit of a chuckle out of the following Peanuts cartoon sent to me by Patricia, who was fortunate enough to meet the brilliant Charles Schulz, creator of these famous characters. As ever, Snoopy seems to verbalise our innermost thoughts!
I suppose the biggest gap between “normal” golfers like us and the best practitioners of our sport is in the quality of those innermost thoughts. It can be a secret, often fuzzy, place and sometimes a complete mystery, as in the case of Patrick Reed, winner yet again last Sunday on the PGA Tour. He notched up his ninth title amid a flurry of controversy over lifting his ball, unsupervised, to determine whether it was embedded or not. In this instance I don’t believe he broke any rules but when a reputation such as his precedes him, it would surely pay to be a little more circumspect and avoid anything that could be open to misinterpretation.Rory took relief in the very same round in the very same way and because HIS reputation precedes him there was barely a raised eyebrow. The vitriolic twitter storm that was unleashed against Reed was appalling and begged the question ‘what goes on in the heads of these people on social media?’ Is it the fact that they can hide behind a cloak of anonymity that makes them so “brave” and “out there” with their pronouncements? Perhaps it’s time account holders were licenced in some way and held totally accountable for their content.
Not that social media is all bad. It can be a wonderful way of keeping in touch and connecting with friends from all over the world, as I discovered this week when I enjoyed a lockdown birthday. Messages came in from Canada, the States, all over Europe, Britain, Ireland, Australia and South Africa. Some were expected, many were not, but all were appreciated and enjoyed more than I can tell you. Several were from my former life, both as an amateur and a professional golfer many years ago – from fellow players, caddies, administrators and supporters. Perhaps it’s the fact that our izzy-whizzy life is on hold at the moment and that we all have time for more reflection that this reaching out is so appreciated. Perhaps it’s just the mellowing of old age.
Some old-fashioned, normal, through-the-post messages also arrived including the card in the featured picture at the top. It was from a good pal, accompanied by an apology for her poor effort of a card – the bottom of her lockdown stash, she confessed! I didn’t think it was too bad and appreciated she remembered and, anyway, have you seen the price of a stamp?!
One of my pals from tour days eschewed both Facebook and card-sending and instead picked up the phone for a chat – probably our first in a decade or more. As we caught up with each other it reminded me how important it is for tours like our own Ladies’ European Tour to have a comprehensive and well-documented archive. To my knowledge there is scant information available and all those working at the tour now are too young to know anything about the players, staff and accomplishments of the early days. The current tour stands on the shoulders of those who preceded them, a fact that the LPGA has highlighted under the stewardship of Mike Whan, their commisioner. This connection with the past, and indeed the use of former players in ambassadorial roles, and the presentation of a solid, long-standing and developing modern enterprise all helps with commercial alliances and highlighting a quality product here to stay. The LET would do well to take a leaf out of their American colleagues’ book while there are still journalists and players around who walked every step of those pioneering days with them.
Perhaps I do the LET a disservice but they were the only major golfing body who failed to pen a tribute to the late, great Peter Alliss. Peter was their first president and a huge supporter of women’s professional golf in Europe. I wonder how many players and staff at the LET headquarters are even aware of that? Build an archive before it’s too late.
We have written in the blog before of Gloria Minoprio, an elegant Englishwoman who raised eyebrows and heart rates in the 1930s when she became the first woman documented playing golf in trousers. As you can imagine, this was nothing short of scandalous and the fact that she would arrive in her chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce less than a minute before her tee-off time in the English Championship all added to her charm. Throw in the fact that the chauffeur acted as her caddy (which wasn’t too arduous as she only carried one club) and that she was a member of the Magic Circle and you realise she was quite a dame.
Well, my very near, and dear, neighbour is one John Minoprio, now well into his eighties, a professional photographer steeped in all things golf, horses and cricket. (He took the pictures of Patricia and me for the blog.) Gloria was a second cousin (I think) of his father and he remembers meeting her when he was a small child. When John and I first met twenty years ago he couldn’t believe I knew of his ancestor. Well, the happy news I learned this week is that John, who has been widowed for eight years, is remarrying in April and moving down to Berkshire. Love has blossomed over the phone in lockdown with a lovely lady he’s known for some sixty years. It’s joyful news, albeit tinged by the sadness that he will be selling his home of 53 years. John, however, is like Gloria – a liver, and lover of life who embraces new opportunities with fervour.
Puts me rather in mind of Captain Sir Tom, who died earlier this week, an inspiration to us all.