Once upon a time we used to play golf, on a golf course – not just hit balls into a net in the garden. When was your last game and with whom? My last round was special for lots of reasons – for the company, for the course we played and for the glorious weather. I couldn’t have dreamed then that that would be it as far as golf was concerned for, potentially, months and months.
I was up in Gullane in East Lothian for a few days and had met up with my old pal and sparring partner from Tour days, Gillian Stewart. We had a game arranged with well-known, local golfing celebrity and current Gullane Ladies’ champion, Sue Penman. Over the last 25 years or so of the Madill Trophy, (an annual match between my pals and members of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, played at Muirfield) Sue has served as a very willing and able sub. Ready to step in at a moment’s notice, she frequently has done so and with great aplomb, earning herself the nickname of SuperSub. Now a member of the Honourable Company she is, I imagine, eligible to play for either side. Hmm, she could well become the first person to play for each team!
Sue was to bring a pal along to make up the four and when she announced to Gill and me that Lesley Johnson was joining us neither of us turned a hair. Only Lesley turned out to be Lesley Hope, Scottish champion in 1975 and someone I certainly hadn’t seen for more than 40 years. And in another little twist that golf tends to throw up, the last time Gill and Lesley had teed it up together had been in the Scottish Championship, played over Gullane No.1, the self-same course we were playing together last month.
The weather was perfect and our fourball skipped around in three and a half hours with more than a sprinkling of good shots and a fair degree of banter. The course had been prepared for social distancing rules with all the bunker rakes removed and the cups inverted so the ball bounced gently away from the flagstick when holed. The clubhouse was closed so we had no 19th hole to look forward to but it was a morning well spent and one I won’t forget, not least for the strange times we were just about to enter.
Two or three days prior to our round at Gullane Gill and I had played at Archerfield Links, whose courses were designed by the lovely DJ Russell, once my partner in a professional mixed tournament in Spain. It turned out to be the final day the clubhouse was open, but with copious spacing between the tables and an attentive staff it was still a treat. It was another lovely day, weather-wise, and an abiding memory of a fair, but challenging test of golf with first-class facilities at every turn. I look forward to a return in more normal times……and if you haven’t played there put it on your list….and near the top.
In the absence of golf, what fills the vacuum in your household? I have a mixture of things that occupy me – most of them outside activities while this lovely weather lasts. I refuse to clean the house while the sun is shining – after all, as Mary McKenna says, no one is coming to visit, So, it’s gardening and outdoor exercising that are taking priority. I have a lovely walk from the house, mostly off-road on secluded bridle paths, which has a decent hill to ascend. I do a few power walks up and down this hill and on the days I don’t do that I have a spin on the static exercise bike at home.
A new hobby is receiving deliveries of this, that and the other. As well as the golf net, a strimmer has arrived; copious books (ones I don’t want on a Kindle) have found their way to the door and most important are the wine orders. At the end of this we are all either going to be fatter or fitter – just one letter difference in the spelling but in reality, worlds apart. I’m doing my best to be the latter rather than the former. Time will attest as to how successful I have been.
Keep safe everybody.