One good thing about writing this blog late at night is that the Feherty Show is now on Sky golf and provides inspiration and distraction in equal measure. It’s Freddie Couples this week and Fred’s always been one of my favourites; how could he not be a favourite! He’s just a delight, a sweetheart.
At the Ryder Cup at Valderrama, Fred was walking up the 18th in one of the practice rounds and I was watching from behind the ropes. He smiled and nodded in my direction but I remained stony-faced, then glanced behind to see who it was he was acknowledging. There was no one there. FREDDIE COUPLES HAD BEEN SMILING AT ME. And I had blanked him…..There were, are, no words.
It was the evening of the gala dinner, so, later, when the teams were assembling in their finery with their wives and partners, I, in my not-so-fine daily duds, took a deep breath and went up and apologised to Freddie – fully expecting him to look blank and wonder what this eejit was whittering on about. Ever the gentleman, he smiled (I nearly fainted – he was, after all, in his dinner duds and like Seve scrubbed up to devastating effect) and I’ve remained eternally grateful that I plucked up the courage to say something.
Ah, happy days!
Now that I’m an invisible old doll who doesn’t lurk outside – or inside – ropes any more, these stories sound like fairy tales, even to me, but they are true – honest! I probably have a photo somewhere but there’s no guarantee of finding the right one even after days of rooting through box after shoebox after plastic container after box. And, if I’ve taken it, the chances are that the subject will be blurry, out of focus and headless. An early, slightly less bloody version of Game of Thrones or Line of Duty.
At this point, I should remind you that a lot of Game of Thrones was filmed on the beach at Portstewart (not sure about LOD, which, from what I’ve seen on Gogglebox and assorted clips, is bloody but not very scenic). I’ve got a picture of the beach somewhere but since Mo is the photo editor in these parts and she doesn’t do late nights, you’ll just have to take my word for that too. I’m taking lessons on editing photos for the occasions when my flights of fancy take me by surprise and require me to sort out my own illustrations but it’s taking time. A slow exposure for a slow learner?
At long last I’ve realised that there’s nothing wrong with being a slow learner. Whatever we’ve grown up thinking, learning is not a race. Like golf, it’s something that can – should – last a lifetime. I know people, good sportsmen, with an eye for a ball and a facility for games, who struck golf off their list because it didn’t click right away; they couldn’t master it first go, so they abandoned it, unwilling to be bad at something, if only briefly, after always being good at everything. Their loss.
We at WHGC, along with a lot of other golf clubs and organisations, are promoting the game as best we can, trying to encourage girls and women especially to give it a go. I’ve said it before and I suspect I’ll keep saying it until I keel over for the last time: The thing I love about golf is that it’s INCLUSIVE not exclusive. It’s the IN bit I like. Let’s ditch the EX!
People, we’re full of notions. We get an idea in our head and that’s it, we’ll never shift. Golf is not for the likes of us (the likes of us, who are we when we’re at home?), it’s a game for fuddy-duddy codgers with ruddy faces and rotund tums. Well, yes, it is – and why shouldn’t it be? – but it’s also for slim Jims, svelte Sues, creaky Chrisses (sp??), rip-roaring Rorys, toddling Tigers, retirees, primary schoolers; black, white and every colour in between; male and female and every orientation in between; big, tall, petite, size is no object. Money might be but that’s not insurmountable.Look at me and you’ll see – well, I shudder to think but I’m white, flabby, female, elderly (yuk!!), middle-class and I play golf. Help. A lot of my friends and fellow golfers are like me (if less flabby) and we can’t help most of those things. We could be less flabby if we decided to fight against nature and give up the wine and the gin and the cheese on toast and we could give up golf but the rest is, essentially, beyond our control.
I love my friends but I don’t want all golfers to look like us. I want more golfers to look as unlike me as it is possible to be! The trouble is that I look like me and people make assumptions, as we do, based on looks mostly – and assumptions.
Dangerous things assumptions, as a magistrate, a member at Royal Portrush as it turned out, once told me when I gave evidence before him. He dismissed my version of events – I’ve neither forgotten nor forgiven – but I’ve been chary of assumptions ever since.
Finally, congratulations are in order to two people: to Jenny Burton, who is retiring after nearly 33 years of keeping things in order at WHGC and to Rory McIlroy, who is celebrating his 30th birthday tomorrow. Ask Jenny, or most of us, Rory, that big 3-oh, ho, ho of yours isn’t so bad after all. Have a good day.