This blog’s interests are wide-ranging but its area of expertise is, if not quite non-existent, paltry at best.  As far as golf goes it does not stretch to holes-in-one, although I have had two in a golfing lifetime that is staggering into its 56th year.  Not much of a return for all those swings and, in the early days at least, all those lessons and expert advice.

Even worse, I never saw either of them!  The first one was in a club match    at Oxley Park, just up the road from Molineux and the tee was a bit below the level of the green, which was guarded by a bunker, so I hit some sort of finagle with a wood.  When we got up to the green, there was no sign of my ball, so I looked in the trees behind the greens.  Still no luck and it was only as a last resort that I looked in the hole – and there it was.  My first ace.

Holes-in-one: a matter of skill or simply flukes?

It was also a bit embarrassing because I was already a lot up and when we got in, there was hardly anybody there, so I bought a bottle of sauvignon blanc and twisted the arm of the lad behind the bar, who agreed to have a lemonade or cola of some sort.  A cheap gig but a  disappointing celebration of a momentous (for me) occasion!  The rest of the family welcomed me to the club and wondered why it had taken me so long.

My only other hole-in-one was at the old 13th, currently the 12th, at Whittington, always my least favourite hole.  It’s not long but is surrounded by bunkers, so I have to take a wood, do a bit of fiddling and hope for the best, usually a good bounce off the slope on the lefthand side of the green.  This time I hit it well, there was no sign of it in the bunker to the left, so I thought it had kicked merrily on and over the green, down the dip.  Still no sign, so my playing partner, on the way to her ball, had a look in the hole and, glory be, there it was.

Yesterday morning, on that self-same green, my partner and I shook hands with our opponents in the Winter Foursomes, beaten by 7 and 6, known as a dog licence by older readers who remember the days of shillings and pence when pets did not require insurance.  The consolation was that they played well – 8 over par for the 12 holes, by my count, including a double bogey at the 11th, where we had a shot and I had a tiddler to win the hole and missed.  The darned computer kept wanting to put “toddler”, something even more costly than my tiddler…

The all-conquering Jimenez in the winner’s conquistador’s helmet [PGA Tour I think]

This talk of holes-in-one was prompted in part by Miguel Angel Jimenez’s latest victory on the senior circuit in America – officially the PGA Tour Champions.  The colourful Spaniard, still going strong at the age of 58, won the Cologuard Classic in Tucson by four shots from Bernhard Langer, even more evergreen than Jimenez, and Woody Austin.  En route to his second victory in three events, Jimenez had two holes-in-one, one in the first round and one in the third and final round.  He’s now had 13 in tournaments.

If you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that there aren’t more holes-in-one in professional events, given the level of skill and the number of players having four goes per round (at least; that’s not counting drivable par 4s). The conclusion must surely be that an ace is, essentially, a fluke?!  A happy fluke, deserving of celebration and commemoration but a fluke nonetheless.

At the top of this piece is a picture proudly featuring the three holes-in-one achieved by Moor Hall’s Tony Clayton, whose funeral was last Monday. (Note that for one of them he used a ball from the Masters, cool or what!)  TC, a great friend, who died just short of his 84th birthday, was an enthusiastic golfer but didn’t always give it his full concentration.  One of his regular playing partners, whose wife did all their cooking, complained more than once that Tony was more interested in sharing the intricacies of his latest recipe for black bean soup than giving a putt his full attention.

Part of a wonderful collage of TC’s lovely life, with Moor Hall as the backdrop.  Thanks so much for the friendship, the laughs and the full and frank discussions.

Tony was a Villa fan, so I’m sure he’d have enjoyed this picture, WhatsAppd to me by a friend after Tottenham’s exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Middlesbrough.  Boro were at home but they’re a division down from Spurs and most neutrals would have expected us to win, flaky though our form has been.  Boro won 1-nil, in extra time and it looked to be thoroughly deserved.  Not one of the Spurs fans I’ve spoken to was surprised….

Yet another season without a trophy. Perhaps now the club will abandon the dated, triumphalist “Mighty Spurs” video in the build-up to our home matches. Beyond embarrassing.

A glutton for punishment, I entered the golf writers’ PYP (Pick Your Pro) competition again this year in the hope of improving on my most notable performance thus far – finishing last and getting my entrance money back – but things aren’t looking good.  My choice for this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational?  Bryson DeChambeau, the defending champion, a man who was bound to play.  Wasn’t he?  Well, no.  He’s got some sort of injury and has withdrawn.  Nul dollars this week.  Unless Lydia Ko plays well in the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore….Go Lydia.