Whenever people ask me what I’ve been up to over the last few days, I tend to panic and my mind goes blank. What on earth have I been doing? Nothing much really, the days just go and suddenly another week has passed and we’re hurtling through another month. It’s amazing how a mad whirl of golf, bridge, singing, tai chi, WhatsApping (when global glitches allow), visits to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Bath, via assorted diversions, eats up the time.
Last week was quite hectic, with singing (or an approximation thereof from me) and tai chi on Wednesday; golf at Delamere on Thursday, a shotgun start in aid of Stick ‘n’ Step charity. A lovely day on a lovely course, breezy and mostly bright, until the final downpour that had us dripping our way to the car. The four of us had a nearest the pin and birdie 2 between us, enough for three balls each and assorted goodies but not enough points to challenge the top teams – the winners had well over 100 points.
On Saturday, with a full tank of petrol thanks to Morrisons and a tip-off from a friend (crisis, what crisis?), I set off for Maidenhead in the pouring rain, holed up in a faded but friendly Travelodge and on Sunday morning caught the Spurs supporters’ coach to Tottenham. This season ticket business is a bit of a logistical challenge but we managed to beat Villa 2-1, so at least I’ve got the bragging rights for a wee while. The programme commemorated the incomparable Jimmy Greaves, who died last month and it would have been quite something to see him in his prime.
Steve Perryman, who was at the start of his career when he played with Greavsie, was in awe of his talent and said: “He was a professional goalscorer. That was it, from start to finish – he knew how to score a goal. He didn’t really want to run about but he ‘thought’ the game and he floated over the grass. Can you imagine how bad those pitches were? He floated over them, he glided over them and when defenders like me were running through the ground, he was floating on top of it. What a player.”
Running was not his thing, though. “He definitely did not enjoy training,” Perryman said. “Anything to do with running, he wasn’t involved….His game was built on that first two or three metres. He was very single-minded – his job was to be on there and score a goal. He lived for scoring goals….”
Whether or not his work rate would pass muster with today’s coaches, it’s hard to argue against the Greaves strike rate: 266 goals in 379 appearances for Spurs between 1961 and 1970 and 44 goals in 57 games for England. He also scored 41 goals for Chelsea in the 1960/61 season, still a club record. Phenomenal.
Ignoring all the Nike stuff in the Spurs shop (their sponsorship is saving me shedloads of money), I took a detour to look at an art exhibition called Balls. Every work is based on the shape of a football and there’s a plea in capital letters: PLEASE DO NOT KICK THE ART.
Where to next? Ah yes, Bath for a lovely couple of days – although I think I might let the train take the strain next time I go there: it is not a car-friendly place. Luckily enough, the weather was bright and breezy, with no rain, so I swirled round the city in an open-top bus, soaking up the architecture and the atmosphere. Fantastic.
At this point, Mo might be saying that there’s not enough golf in this piece, so she’ll be glad to know that we passed very close to what is known as “the most dangerous place in Bath” with a warning to beware of “low-flying golf balls”. It’s a wee golf course for beginners and just down the hill from the timeless elegance of the Royal Crescent is a playground for the pre-beginners.
On the real golf front, Jon Rahm, the world No 1, is back in Europe, in Madrid, attempting to win his national championship, the ACCIONA Open de Espana presented by Madrid for the third time in a row. Only Seve has won the title three times but even he did not manage three in a row and Rahm is well aware that he has the chance to achieve something special.
“It would be very unique,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what event it is, not many people have been able to win one three times in a row so I’m hoping I can get it done – it would truly be my honour.”Finally, there’s a big boost for the women’s game with a new sponsor for the first major of the 2022 season. The Chevron Championship will replace the ANA Inspiration for at least the next six years. The prize money has been increased by a whopping 60 per cent, to $5 million and after 2022 the tournament will move from Rancho Mirage to a new home, yet to be decided but probably in the Houston area and a new, slightly later date.
It’ll be a bittersweet occasion, leaving Mission Hills Country Club behind but there’s no doubt that the tournament that once led the way when it came to prize money had been lagging behind its peers for far too long. Chevron’s involvement is a giant leap for women’s golf – perhaps even for womankind in general. Time will tell.