I don’t know what sort of week you’ve had but I suspect that Justin Rose, his inestimable caddy/caddie (I can never decide which I prefer) Mark Fulcher and their family and friends have had a lovely week, very contented, after Justin, the defending champion, won the Turkish Airlines Open and went back to world No 1. He beat Li Haotong of China in a play-off, at the first extra hole. Who knows how much Justin and Futch are worth these days but it’s lovely to see that nice guys don’t have to finish last – they can finish first too. And second. Li is, by all accounts, a lovely lad and he and Shanshan Feng, a former women’s world No 1 and Olympic bronze medallist are so good for golf. They are world class, so even those who see golf as a selfish, bourgeois, imperialist non sport that is injurious to the health of the people have to hold their whist – bite their tongue. In the meantime, more and more Chinese hear about golf and think it might be something to try. In China, even a small percentage is a lot of people.
Who knows how long the world No 1 will last this time – was it a week last time? – what with the logjam at the top but it’s not going to be dull keeping up with the twists and turns. Rose won in Turkey and later that day, a few time zones back, in Las Vegas, Bryson DeChambeau, an intelligent, inventive man who has the courage of his convictions, won the Shriners Hospitals For Children Open. It was the young American’s third win in five starts – a scarily good strike rate – and he is now No 5 in the world.
DeChambeau, he of the same length shafts, applies physics (which, I’m told, is the key to understanding the world, which is therefore destined to remain a mystery to me) to his study of the game of golf and sometimes it works. He had a pretty poor Ryder Cup, in terms of points – nul, zilch – but don’t bet against him having worked that thing out by the next match in 2020.
You don’t have to be the world No 1 or a Ryder Cup player to make a good living out of golf but the luckiest golfers are those who just love the game and get a lot of pleasure out of it for as long as they can swing, staying more or less upright – the balance goes as you get older – and walk at least a few steps. If you’re a member of a club, even if you no longer play, you can go up and sit in a corner with your paper and a glass of wine, watch the golf – or the cricket, or whatever – and chew the cud with your friends, putting the world and the club to rights.
At Whittington at the moment we’re trying to put the club to rights – not just in whispers or complaints in corners between friends – but properly, seriously, taking soundings from everyone who wants to talk or has an opinion, a complete overhaul of how we operate, to drag us into whatever century it is we’re in and set things up for the next few generations. We’re lucky because our prime asset, our course, is playable all year, frost and snow permitting and the sainted Harry Colt had a large hand in re-designing it in the late 1920s.
We’re also lucky that we have a person who is not only willing but able to undertake the review of our modus operandi, who has the skills to do the job properly and the support of what is beginning to look like a majority of the members, not least because they’ve been asked to make their views known, to share their expertise and realise that they have a say in how the club is run. There’ll be disagreements on details, of course – whatever you do, don’t get embroiled in dress codes or changing shoes in car parks, that’s not the object of this exercise – but, whisper it quietly, there may be a consensus………
Late though it is, I’ve just looked that word up in the dictionary because as I get older I realise that nothing is certain, that the things I thought I knew, the words I was sure I was using correctly, so that other people understood exactly what I meant, led, more often than not, to confusion and misunderstanding. According to my dictionary (Chambers, 2003), consensus means “agreement of various parts; agreement in opinion; unanimity…..” Phew. I think that’s what I thought I meant……
Anyway, yesterday afternoon I spent two hours in a meeting being briefed on what was going on and the time whizzed by! It’s amazing what you can learn when the right person is doing the teaching/explaining. At university, I fell asleep in the classes that dealt with administration, how things worked; the practicalities just weren’t my thing but, of course, if the teacher had been more inspiring, even I might have perked up and appreciated that this stuff was important, not boring. Though there’s no pretending that organisation would ever have been my forte.
I’ll never be the world’s best bridge player – even starting in the womb wouldn’t have helped – but rather to my surprise, after a false start when I thought the game was not for me, I’ve recently become hooked, helped in no small part by the right teacher and the right school, small, relaxed, a bit noisy, rude, funny. That’s right, bridge is fun, who knew!
Whatever it is, keep persevering.