I’ve always been partial to lists – shopping lists, to-do lists, Christmas lists, whatever. So, before Patricia and I stagger towards a few blog-free weeks I thought I’d post a little list of personal delights from the 2016 golfing season.
1 In top spot is the wholly unexpected fact that I discovered I actually LIKE Patrick Reed. “What?”, I hear you cry. “That arrogant, loud, boorish Yank who filled our screens at the Ryder Cup?” Yes, yes and yes! Take him outside that incredible arena of live Ryder Cup play and, yes, he is still super-confident but he also displays a genuine humility and an appreciation for the skills of his opponents. There is an openess about him and a refreshing lack of the self- absorption that can be commonplace among successful people. I did bump into his friends and family at the Ryder Cup (see my post “Inside the Ropes at Hazeltine”) and I can’t imagine them allowing him to be too big for his boots.
2 The month of June saw Great Britain and Ireland sweep to an amazing victory in the Curtis Cup at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club. Outclassed on paper, but not where it mattered, the team, led by an inspirational Bronte Law who won five points out of five, came together to prove incontrovertibly that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The Irish trio of Leona Maguire, Olivia Mehaffey and Maria Dunne sent home hearts soaring with displays of fearless aggression and consummate skill. I have been privileged to watch and commentate on the best golf worldwide for 20 plus years but there is absolutely nothing to compare to victory for a team you once played for. When this sport has a fierce emotional pull on your heart and victory is delivered in your native country – well, it’s truly glorious!
3 For one reason and another I didn’t manage my customary ten games or so this year and yet again my New Year Resolution is to get out and play more. Two of my 2016 games were on the soon-to-be Open venue, the Dunluce course at Royal Portrush. On each occasion I recorded a birdie 2 on the fearsome par 3 Calamity Corner. This was easily as unexpected as liking Patrick Reed! Confirmation of the truth of this boast is available upon application to, firstly, Patricia and Lilian Starrett, and, secondly, to Mary McKenna, Sandra Ross and Gillian Stewart, aka The July Club. If you look at one of my previous posts, “Portstewart, Portrush, Castlerock: A Trio Of Golfing Delights”, you’ll find this is not the first time I have mentioned this feat. Indeed, I find it working its way into an amazing number of the golf conversations I have. And I used to suspect Patrick Reed of being self-absorbed!
4 Finally, meeting India’s Aditi Ashok and her family and following the 18-year-old’s progress on the world stage has been a real bonus. Aditi won the Ladies’ European Tour Qualifying School at the end of 2015 by a considerable margin. The family live in Bangalore and aren’t half racking up the airmiles. In August, at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Woburn, Aditi was sponsorless and had Dad on the bag for her first major appearance. Her Mum, Mash, a former radio DJ, was number one supporter. Since then Aditi has won back to back tournaments in Europe as well as Rookie of the Year honours, represented her country at the Olympics and has gained enough status on the LPGA to merit plenty of starts stateside in 2017. To cap it all, she is a trailblazer in her country and is becoming one of their most recognisable sports stars. It gives me a lovely fuzzy feeling to know that the good guys can and do win. This girl has replied to and acknowledged any tweets I’ve put out about her whether necessary or not. She’s a class act and fingers crossed for more of the same for the family in 2017.
5 And the final, final delight of 2016. Patricia and I did, eventually, start this blog. And, contrary to my deep-seated certainty that it was inevitable, I haven’t yet killed her and diplomatic relations continue, mostly. But, while we may be enjoying it – are YOU? We hope so.
Have a great festive season and, unless we hear to the contrary, we’ll be back mid Jan.