I couldn’t have been more nervous if I’d been expecting the Queen herself. To say that I was skittering around like a cat on a hot tin roof in preparation for my very special guest would be wrong – not least because said guest is a dog (well, a bitch to be terminologically correct). Yes, the sainted Alice is coming to stay at mine and the excitement is off the scale, the nerves too if truth be told.
Alice is a frequent visitor but she’s never stayed the night before, so it’ll be interesting to see where she decides she’d like her bed. I bought a new HugRug (washable) so she wouldn’t be doing too much slipping and slithering on the wooden floor and the laptop is on the card table, so she can help with the blog if she wants to – or nudge my elbow if she wants some attention or her dinner or just a cuppa. The sounds, the smells, the layout and the light are different from her norm, so to begin with she’s doing a lot of standing stock still assessing her options!
Mo is undoubtedly wondering what on earth all this has to do with golf but the sainted game is about to get a look in. It’s a long time since I’ve been to Augusta but over the years I’ve accumulated quite a lot of Masters memorabilia, most of it bought and paid for. One year I splashed out on an item that was a bit bulky but affordable (it was a while ago), so I stuffed it in to my luggage somehow and then spent ages trying to work out what to do with it.
A friend did some modifications and for a few years it acted as a winter room divider/draught excluder between the kitchen and the utility room. Since then it’s been folded up in a cupboard and has escaped several purges simply because of its logo. Now, however, I feel it’s found its true calling.
There hasn’t been that much golf on my agenda this week but I did play in elevated company on Tuesday, as a late sub in our greensomes comp. It’s always a joy to watch people who can play properly and it makes me make an effort to concentrate and not disgrace myself – not always successfully but these days I’ve lowered my expectations and accept that it’s not really possible to improve solely by some sort of osmosis without recourse to the practice ground.
I decided to double-check the meaning of osmosis and it’s a bit more technical than I thought: “diffusion of liquids through a semipermeable membrane”. Ah. Oops. No, wait a minute, that’s the chemical definition. The figurative one is more what I had in mind: “a gradual absorption or assimilation”.
I think it’s Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan who goes out in to the middle before a match and practises, without a ball, all the shots he’ll use once play starts. It sounds like the technique Dr Michael Mosley was testing out in his series Just One Thing on BBC radio 4: motor imagery, I believe it’s called, a supreme form of visualisation. Sounds like just the thing for cold, wet winter nights.
My least favourite hole used to be the 13th, short, tricky, surrounded by bunkers. I’d be ecstatic if you gave me a bogey 4 every time from now until I chuck away the clubs; it’s now the 12th because the course has been re-jigged but some people have had no trouble at all there. The irrepressible Sue Clarke recently had a hole in one – the only way to play the little sod really. Many congrats.
And a few days before that Helena Rean (whom I replaced in the greensomes, a classic case of from the sublime to the ridiculous) had a hole in one at the 6th. Lovely.
More sadly, the old WHGC clubhouse, which has been standing crumbling for a lot of months, is being demolished. The bats must have done their thing, the ghosts are doing who knows what and every time we go past we remember the fun and the laughter, all the good times in a shambolic building that was a bit of a warren but full of happy memories.
Even sadder, the AGW (Association of Golf Writers) lost another member recently: Dave Hamilton, who is on the right in the photo below. There wasn’t much Dave didn’t know about golf, even though the game itself drove him nuts! Sound familiar? It’s fair to say that the Hamilton golfing philosophy did not usually include phrases like ‘que sera sera’, ‘it’s only a game’ or ‘there’s always tomorrow’. He cut himself no slack on the course, where a bad shot or a ghastly lie were unlikely to be met with any pretence at equanimity. You learned that you couldn’t jolly him out of the slough of despond; he’d emerge in his own good time and then there’d be laughter and great tales.
Dave was a man of golf par excellence and he and Bob Davies organised the AGW dinner for umpteen-ump years between them, a task that many of us would find impossible; it was probably the lawyers who stopped them writing the book!
RIP Dave and condolences to Cathy, who’s not a golfer but learned to tolerate us and made him so happy in their years together.
Finally, a happy AGW story. Many congratulations to Mike Aitken who broke his 25-year duck and got his hands on the AGW Trophy, with 38 points at Hoylake, Royal Liverpool, no less. Brilliant. Well worth the wait.