Phew, it’s that time again, the time when I should be winding down for bed but instead am winding up to write the blog. At least I have an excuse for this particular late start – I was playing golf! And at times it was even recognisable as such. Looking at the card, I can hardly believe my eyes because I had eight of those par things – EIGHT. And six of them came in the space of seven holes. Sadly, the shock proved too much, and my partners and I tailed off towards the end but we still more than held our own in the Captains’ Charity Am-Am on a bright and very breezy day.
No wonder most proper golfers go to the gym and flog away on the treadmill or the jogging track, lift weights, do stretches, all that sort of stuff. Playing good golf is not nearly as knackering as playing bad golf but you have to be fit to keep swinging and concentrating until the last putt drops. One of the guys behind us hit a majestic second shot to the long, uphill 17th – a 3-wood from 240-odd yards to 10 feet from the pin – and then realised that he’d left his wedge by the 16th green, a heckuva long way away thanks to more high speed diggings. He legged it back down the hill, across the diggings, retrieved his wedge and puffed his way the 500-plus yards up the hill to his ball. He missed the eagle putt.
“I hadn’t really done any running for 40 years,” he said when I asked him if he’d got his three.
On reflection, it’s a miracle we amateurs play as well as we do, given our lack of prep. It was my second 18 in three days and at least it confirmed that the dog-bashed knee had recovered its equilibrium. We were also an all-female four, playing off the red tees but using the men’s stroke index, plus one courtesy shot. That makes the last – a par 5 for us normally – a par 4 and a tough reach, especially into the wind. Oh, for a bit of extra strength and length.
Perhaps I’d better try those Body + Soul exercises in The Times. Did you see them? How many press-ups can you do? (None.) Stand on one leg for ten seconds. (Not bad. Thank goodness for tai chi.) How many times can you sit and stand from a chair in 30 seconds? (Tougher than it sounds and a great indoor exercise.) Get up from sitting on the floor without using your hands. (No chance. Getting down to the floor is hard enough.) How many animals or fruits can you name in 60 seconds? (A friend just worked her way round Twycross Zoo!) Walk as far as you can in six minutes. (Thank goodness for golf.)
I see that not only is the sainted Rory playing in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth next week (with a load of LIVers – should be feisty) but he’s also playing in the DS Automobiles Italian Open the following week, at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club. That’s where the Ryder Cup is being held next year (September 29th – October 1st). Luke Donald, Europe’s Ryder Cup captain and his vice captains Thomas Bjorn and Edoardo Molinari will be there too, alongside US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, the 2018 Open champion Francesco Molinari, Victor Hovland and the Hojgaard twins Nicolai, the defending champion and Rasmus, plus many other Ryder Cup hopefuls.Donald has six picks in his gift, so he’ll be a popular man for the next few months and his diplomatic skills will undoubtedly be tested to their limits. The former world No 1 said all the right things when he was first appointed to replace Henrik Stenson when the Swede defected to LIV: “It is truly one of the greatest honours that can be bestowed upon a golfer, to lead a team of your peers and be an ambassador for an entire continent. I feel extremely privileged to have been given that responsibility and it is a responsibility I do not take lightly.
“Some of my best experiences in golf have been in the Ryder Cup and I would not swap those for anything. It is an event like no other and I cannot wait to create more special memories in Italy next year. I love everything the Ryder Cup embodies, from the camaraderie and companionship of being part of a team, to the history of the contest but most of all playing for something bigger than yourself.
“Rome will be a fantastic host city and I have always enjoyed spending time there. It is a city rich in history and hopefully we can create some of our own next year.”
Well, let’s hope we’ll all be there cheering a fantastic contest between two talented teams but who knows exactly where men’s professional golf will be by then? Perhaps the Colosseum could host a contest to end all contests…
On a more joyful note, a belated happy birthday to the legend that is Jill Thornhill, who hit a number last month that she usually avoided on the golf course.