Even at my lowly level it’s important to try and concentrate on the course. “Have you ever played this game before?” my sister, exasperated, said. I think I’d asked her to remind me of her tip on marking the ball properly, having forgotten to check it out again before our game at Delamere Forest, in Cheshire, yesterday. She automatically assumes that I’m trying to wind her up but it was a genuine request. In any case, there’s no need for me to make any effort to wind Mo up on the golf course; put her out with anyone else and she’ll be Zen-like calmness personified; put her out with me and I only have to breathe to deeve the life out of her.
We’ve both been playing golf for more than 50 years but at Delamere we were introduced to a format that we’d never played before and, appropriately, given that it was three old birds playing, it’s called the perch. To get on the perch, you have to win a hole outright and since I had a par 5, nett 4 at the 1st, I was first on the perch. Once on the perch, if you win another hole outright, you win a point but that’s not as easy as it sounds because the trick is staying there, with two other people trying their damnedest to knock you off.
Pam Valentine, who introduced us to the format, was the overall winner with a sole, solitary point. Un point. She ascended the perch (for the first time) thanks to a birdie 3 at the 14th, gained her point with another birdie 3 at the 15th (where she had a shot anyway) and was knocked off by my par 3 at the 16th. That didn’t put me on the perch, it just knocked Pam off and when the 17th was halved, she couldn’t be overtaken.
It may sound confusing but it was great fun, kept us all interested and involved and if you’re playing for a penny a point, doesn’t cost you too much.Delamere was my fourth course in four days and I confess I won’t be touching the clubs today, except, perhaps, to give them a proper scrub. On Monday morning I played, in undistinguished fashion, in the Charles Heeley (stableford) at Maxstoke Park in Warwickshire (the course is in the grounds of the grand castle at the top of the blog} and did something that I can’t recall ever doing before: I teed up outside the markers – not in front of them but in line, on the tee, beyond the second marker. As my partner put her ball down, in between the markers, I realised what I’d done. Ah. What’s the penalty for that?
Draconian, that’s what.
I was penalised two shots and had to play another ball from the correct area. Not surprisingly I blobbed. If it had been matchplay, I wouldn’t have lost the hole or been docked even a single shot. I’d have been allowed to carry on, unless my opponent recalled the shot and made me tee a ball up again in the right place. Huh.
On Tuesday I was playing at home in Staffordshire in our open day Texas scramble. There were three of us and my main concern – I, heaven help us, was in charge of the card – was to ensure that we had five drives each, including a short hole. It was an opinionated threesome and there was the occasional frank discussion as to whose shot we should take but our downfall was that we hit too many poor shots at the same time and didn’t hole enough putts. Our nett 71 was a mere ELEVEN shots behind the winners, who obviously holed plenty of putts and, presumably, had at least one person hitting a good shot every time.
Oh yes, and there was yet another dozy Davies faux pas, this time on the green at the 7th hole, where I had to putt first and forgot to put a marker down so the others knew where to putt from…..I putted past the hole, realised what I’d done – or not done – and called a summit meeting. In the end, texas scramble or not, we decided approximation was not good enough and continued with my ball.
Sometimes it’s just too much to golf and think at the same time, especially if you’ve been trying to do it for more than half a century.
On Wednesday, at Little Aston, Staffs, one of my favourite venues, it was a 3-ball alliance, two scores to count, stableford, shotgun start. We started at the 16th, a tough hole, where I had what I think was my first ever par 4 there. That was my highlight, though our hostess played beautifully and we struggled womanfully to support her as best we could. The good thing about starting where we did is that you get the devilish 17th and difficult 18th out of the way early on and it’s not too far to walk back in and change from golfers to ladies-who-lunchers.
There were so many of us that we were allocated the (men’s) visitors’ locker room to change in and I was gratified to see that, although it was on the spartan side, there were a couple of hairdryers installed. Tommy Fleetwood would no doubt be pleased.
And, on reflection, the utilitarian austerity makes sense. Who needs colour and comfort in the locker room when the bar and the dining room beckon?
I was going to mention the Evian Championship, the last major of the season but when I tried to find the website to study the scores, this is what I came up with…….