I don’t know how many of you have tried disc golf but apparently it’s one of the fastest growing sports in America, which means it’s pretty big. There was an article about it in The Times (London) last month, by Will Pavia, who told us that Ricky Wysocki, 28, from Arizona, is making a pretty good living from launching his frisbees into a chain-strewn basket. He’s earned more than $500,000 in prize money (not sure if that’s per season or over several seasons – forensic research is no longer this blog’s area of expertise) and has a contract worth more than $1 million with a frisbee manufacturer.
There’s a disc golf course in Beacon Park in Lichfield but not for long because the council are going to close down the golf course and the disc golf (not that long installed itself) and put in a zip wire or some such. It’s difficult to know quite what they have in mind because they seem disinclined to pay any attention to what their parishioners have to say on the matter and still haven’t re-opened the council offices – not so much fear of Covid now, I suspect, more the relief of avoiding face to face meetings with the people they’re supposed to represent. Be still my inner cynic.
The local disc golfers were competing here last Sunday – no advertising, so we (not the royal we, we the dog walkers, although admittedly I’m only honorary) found out about it by accident, being nosy and wondering why the golf course was closed for the day. We chatted to bods who were practising for the big comp and discovered that there’s quite a thriving disc community in the Midlands. They were fairly complimentary about the Lichfield track and gutted that it was earmarked for closure. One of the stalwarts has a daughter who is No 1 in the world in her age group and will be competing in the world championships in America later this year! And we’re closing places down.
Moving up the pay scale, Greg Norman and his Saudi-backed circuit have announced a schedule, starting at the Centurion Club in Hertfordshire in June, just before the US Open. The prize fund is £25 million. For that one event; over 54 holes; no cut; 48 players. Well, if you want to attract the attention of any professional sportsperson, you offer them money. We play for fun (!), they play (work) for pay. And at the last count the LIV Golf Invitational series of eight events was offering a total of $255 million, an eye-watering sum to most of us, a drop in the desert to the Saudis.
When DP World, the Dubai based logistics company, became the title sponsor of the European Tour, it was exciting news that the 47 events in 27 countries were worth $200 million. An absolute bargain, it would appear. Mind you, I’m reliably informed that DP World, who own P&O Ferries, owe the Seamen’s Pension Fund nearly as much, in which case it’s a very substantial sum. Funny what you can do with numbers – though more often than not it’s not funny at all. Just ask Robert Maxwell’s Mirror pensioners or the sub-postmasters shafted by the Post Office.
When it comes down to it, tournament golf may be a business, sometimes very big business but it’s not essential, the world wouldn’t grind to a halt if it disappeared altogether. It can add to the gaiety of nations and some of us would miss it, Paddy Power and co more than most – though there’ll always be raindrops racing each other down a window pane somewhere.
Moving on to more important matters, we had our ladies’ captain’s first charity comp on Tuesday, a 9-hole Texas Scramble, followed by a fashion show (brave members doing the modelling) and lunch. We raised quite a bit of money with a raffle and an auction (boosted by telephone bids from Cheltenham) – more than £500 I think – and I’ll keep you posted on progress over the next few weeks and months. I’ll also give you the full proper name of the charity, a variant of muscular dystrophy which affects children, including the gorgeous grandson of one of our members. Some things are far more deserving of mega dollars than golf tournaments.You may remember 50 Shades of Grey, a very successful trilogy, which, I hasten to add, I never read. However, when I was ladies’ captain (nearly ten years ago now), I wrapped the three books in brown paper and auctioned them, sight unseen, for my charity. The lovely John Tipper, whose funeral was yesterday, won the bidding with his characteristic generosity and accepted the surprise with his trademark laugh. I never asked him if he read the books.
John loved his family, his friends, his sport (a wide variety), appalling puns, bright ties, any number of things, including Matt, the Daily Telegraph’s genius of a cartoonist. I roared with laughter when I saw this cartoon on the back of the order of service, not least because it was, for me, the essence of the man. It was John Tipper to a tee. Thanks so much for the laughs.
To finish on a brighter picture (literally), here’s a glimpse of Lichfield’s three spires, one of my better efforts? Well, the sky’s a great colour.