The countryside all around us is bursting with life and colour and, wonders will never cease, so is Shane Lowry. Thanks to Ian Poulter for getting Shane out of his ubiquitous black trousers and black shirt and into something with a bit of life about it when they played together in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Not saying I’m a great fan of the checked trousers, but really, anything is an improvement on black, black and more black. Mind you, it must make packing easy. I used to have a friend on tour, Helen Wadsworth, who wore nothing but black or white and it took her only seconds to pack her case for a tournament.I’m not sure how much input the Curtis Cup team gets into their playing and dress uniforms but I’m sure it’s much more than in my day. The Great Britain and Ireland team was announced at the start of the week and six of last year’s team are back to see if they can exact some revenge for the defeat at Conwy last year. Emily Price of Ludlow and Amelia Williamson of Sheringham are the two new caps, rounding out a team comprising five English players, two Scots and one Irish. Elaine Ratcliffe, the captain, has high hopes:-
“I am delighted to have six of the girls from last year back in the team for the 2022 match and I believe this gives us a strong base to build upon. The two new players to the team will strengthen that talent base and we very much look forward to an exciting match.”
This is Ratcliffe’s second go at captaining the team and it’s hard to think of anyone more qualified to lead the side. An accomplished player in her own right – English Amateur Champion, Curtis Cup player and Rookie of the Year on the Ladies’ European Tour – she has mixed it with the best throughout her playing career. After regaining her amateur status she combined her business degree with her extensive golfing background and, with family members, purchased and now runs Essendon Country Club in Hatfield. She is passionate about introducing more people to the sport, particularly women and girls, and she will be a wonderful representative for us out in the States.
Regaining her amateur status was something Ratcliffe presumably did so she could play in club competitions again as she raised her family. If she hadn’t we would not be able to have her as Curtis Cup captain as the rules state the captain must be an amateur golfer. Time for a change, methinks. We are missing out on so much wealth of knowledge and expertise because we are so keen to hang labels on folk.
“Amateur” and “professional” are two such labels. We are just people and all play the same sport and with more players trying their hand on tour now and making a living within the industry, it seems crazy to cut ourselves off from such a deep pool of talent for future captains and administrators in the amateur game. Ditch the labels and access the very best for the job in question.
Talking of talented administrators in the game, Ireland has been fortunate to have had more than its fair share of trailblazers in this department of the game over the years. Spending thousands of hours over the years spotting and nurturing talent and voluntarily serving on a myriad of committees and panels is not for the faint-hearted and over the years Brigid McCaw of Royal County Down has tirelessly worked for the good of the game. She has been active from club and district level all the way to the heady heights of international golf and the coveted distinction of qualifying as an R&A rules official.So when an email thudded into the inbox this week from Brigid with a request for an outline of my career in amateur golf I knew it would entail a dusty visit up the ladder into the attic. Her latest project is putting together a timeline of achievements of Ulster women golfers. Now, I always thought you would only be able to forget what tournaments you’d won and teams you’d played on if you were super-duper successful and the sheer volume of triumphs meant you couldn’t recall everything. Wrong!!
The passage of some forty years meant I’d forgotten most of my sparse highlights but leafing back through old scrapbooks with yellowing cuttings loosely cramming the pages brought the memories all roaring back. Gosh, those were the days of extensive newspaper coverage and some wonderful writing by golf journalists who knew their stuff.
I had taken a scrap of paper with me up to the attic to jot down salient dates and before I knew where I was a couple of hours had passed and I had to scoop the now mostly detached cuttings back into the relevant scrapbooks, of which there were a couple of dozen. As I descended the ladder back into 2022 and civilisation I decided the tidying of the attic was the next lockdown job – but I knew Brigid would be pleased with me for making the effort.
When I sat down to email her my findings, I realised that the scrap of paper with my carefully-made notes on it had been bundled back into one of the aforementioned scrapbooks, goodness knows where!
And no, Brigid, much as I love you, I’m not going back up that ladder until the next lockdown!