Last week was a bit of a watershed for me as it saw me make my first visit to my golf club Delamere Forest, above, in almost six months. It’s not yet time for me to consider swinging a club again – it’ll be necessary to get some more miles in the ole legs before that happens – but I had wanted to pop along to the Cheshire County Championship and say hello to friends and fellow members. Jackie Hesketh is this year’s county captain and the championship is always played at the captain’s home club, which I think is a lovely tradition.
As was to be expected, all was running on well ordered wheels and the weather was even co-operating, making it easier to steer the field round their two qualifying rounds in pretty good order. There is undoubtedly some youthful talent in the county and the winner of the three-day event turned out to be the talented St Andrews student Lucy Jamieson who beat the host club’s Immy Williamson on the home green. Lucy has won the title in the past but has benefitted from taking part in the R&A Student Tour Series which aims to provide high-quality competition to students outside of the States and Mexico.Role models and inspiration are close at hand for the Cheshire players because Solheim Cup heroine Bronte Law, now full-time in America on the LPGA, was turning out in the same county colours only a few short years ago. It’s always fun to follow the progress of some of the youngsters and I’m reminded how golf gives great pleasure no matter where you are in your own golfing odyssey.
At one time the thrill for me was in competing and hitting the shots myself; then it was in helping pupils reach their potential; and now I just love seeing good young players hit good golf shots, enjoying the game and the cut and thrust of competition.I couldn’t find any record of how long the Cheshire county championship for women has been on the fixture list but Mary McKenna sent me an interesting little note during the week. She was invited out last Sunday to Hermitage Golf Club to be a guest at the 50th playing of the Hermitage Scratch Cup. Mary was the first winner back in 1972 and throughout its fifty years the Scratch Cup has attracted a high pedigree of golfer, all keen to get their name on the honours board.
Alas, it wasn’t one I ever captured but, in my defence, I can only recall playing in it a couple of times – probably because it was perilously close to exam time, which seemed to govern my life for a number of years. Congratulations to 18-year old Beth Coulter from Kirkistown Castle for recording an amazing ten under par total in spreadeagling the field. Beth is second reserve for the Curtis Cup next month, so she is firmly on the radar for the amateur game’s highest honours – and no wonder with performances like this.I have just finished reading tennis player Andre Agassi’s autobiography “Open”. It had me captivated from the first page as he detailed his (mostly) hateful relationship with his sport. He suffered from an overbearing, bullying father who had it all mapped out as to how his son would ascend to the No 1 spot in the world. I knew golfing parents like this back in the day who put their children’s results above everything else. I also knew players scared to ring home after a bad round.
It reminded me of something I’ve always known – how life dealt me a wonderful hand with my own parents. Always supportive, but not averse to the odd good dose of constructive criticism, they introduced Patricia and me to a sport we both ended up making a living from. Patricia had no interest in training on from being a good junior golfer but I immersed myself in playing and they were there every step of the way in my golfing journey, but never front and centre.
I rather surprised my husband the other day when I said I had spent a good deal of time not really liking golf. You spend much more time losing than winning, despite the hours and hours of dedicated effort and disappointment can be a constant companion. I was the one, however, who drove myself on, never Mum or Dad, and apart from wishing I’d been better I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s a wonderful thing to be passionate about something and never stop learning. It did, however, take me a long time to accept that my ambition outstripped my skill level!
I hope there aren’t too many Agassi-type fathers or mothers in the lives of the youngsters playing golf nowadays or, indeed, any sport. Agassi has found peace and happiness in his marriage to Steffi Graf, who is herself a product of a bombastic, overbearing parent. Quite telling, isn’t it, that these two former No 1 ranked players in the world have decided that their two children won’t play tennis? Parents, take note.