This week’s blog may be a little more disjointed and distracted than usual [not possible, surely? – ed] because a friend phoned just as I was sitting down to decompose and told me that Top Hat was on the telly.  Well, that was the end of the golf, Vera, New Tricks, the footie on the radio (sorry West Ham, Leicester, Rangers – well done, brilliant effort to reach the final).  Fred and Ginger, nothing can beat that, especially in glorious black and white with wonderful songs.  Heaven!

Sadly, Dancing Mike and I were left flat-footed…but then, so were all the others. [Snapped off the telly]

I was going to talk about balls first of all, hence the colourful little number at the head of this piece (technical hitches permitting).  After all, balls of one sort or another are integral to many games, including golf and this blog, in its nonsensical way…

Many golfers, chiefly professionals and good players who know what they’re doing, most of the time, are very particular about their balls – number of layers, dimple patterns, aerodynamics, compression, durability, soft feel, any number of things that remain a mystery to a lot of us lower down the swinging order.  Colour, designed mostly I suspect to appeal to us females (one of those token, lip-service gestures to women in golf) comes under visibility in the technical specs.  As for the football ball, I’d assumed (dangerous things assumptions) that it was a stroke of promotional inspiration connected to some championship or other.

Perhaps it was but a few days ago someone told me that the pattern not only made the ball look bigger but was also an anti-yips device…Sorry, not a clue.  No idea how that’s supposed to work.  If you do, please reveal all.

The purveyor of this surprising information hadn’t time to explain further because she was playing in our Ladies’ Open Am-Am at Whittington and, as starter, I couldn’t keep her on the 1st tee any longer without compromising the start sheet.

The new 1st tee at WHGC. It was a women’s Open and we were using the red tees but if you look closely, you’ll see that the starter’s gazebo/shelter is back at the white tees.  Fortunately, I’d brought my brolly and the gazebo was eventually moved forward.

You’ll be delighted and amazed to know that I took my duties seriously and because I couldn’t see the club clock from the new 1st tee, I used the alarm on my phone to give us all a one-minute warning:  1009 for the 1010 tee time, 1019 for the 1020 and so on – simple (it needed to be) but effective.

It hardly rained at all and it was a delightful job, seeing a lot of old friends for the first time for ages and welcoming people who were keen to see the new holes.  The day before, I’d played the first five, all new – I’d missed the official opening because I’d had covid – just in case people asked me too many questions I couldn’t answer.  The skylarks were delightfully noisy and I even had a birdie four at the 5th, something that I’m unlikely to equal no matter how often I play the hole.

Mrs M holed her putt – of course – and pointed out that you can see the three spires of Lichfield Cathedral from here.  You have to peer carefully in to the middle distance but they are there.

I learned early on – thanks to somebody’s distance gizmo – that the fairway bunkers to the right are 220 yards, give or take, from the red tees and most of us can aim at them with impunity.  Longer hitters should aim on the windmill (new-fashioned propellor type) out towards Derbyshire (I think; regular readers know that my geography is as suspect as my sense of direction).  I also learned that you have to aim well right because there’s a poxy bunker on the left that will catch many a drive that looks perfectly safe and respectable until it hits the fairway and starts kicking in an ominously leftward direction.

Mind you, June, my fellow starter and I were stumped by a relatively simply query:  where’s the halfway hut?  What hole?  Ah.  Good question.  June and I looked at each other.  ????  The 8th?  9th?  Somewhere over that way – we gestured expansively.  You’ll see it when you get there!  Well, there’s nothing like a good laugh to set people on their merry way…

After a quick lunch I headed to The Belfry for the first time in ages to play in the AGW’s Michael Williams Hogget on the PGA course – the DP World Tour bods were practising for the Betfred British Masters on the Brabazon, referred to by a friend as the Amazon!  Too right, it was always long, sodden and blooming hard when I played it, way beyond a much younger me when it was much shorter than it is now.  As it turned out, the PGA proved more than long and winding enough.

Colin hogging the Hogget again, with Roddy, right and Peter Dixon, the AGW’s long-suffering captain of golf.

It’s 25 years (unbelievable) since Michael, the golf correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, died and his son Roddy presented the trophy to Colin Harding, who came out on top for the second successive year.  I was well adrift but not too unhappy with my score despite a shank at the last, something I’d also managed at Dundonald Links on my previous outing.  Must have a look at Maureen’s anti-socket tip of a few weeks ago.

Even more annoyingly I managed to lose my new Ping 7-iron and, so far, there’s been no sign of it.  Given my current form, I’ll miss it more than it’ll miss me.  Hope it’s found a good home.

Finally, another snap from all our yesterdays, the unforgettable trip to Prairie Dunes for the Curtis Cup of 1986.  Our family and friends might just about recognise us but in our defence we’d just played golf in 106 degrees Fahrenheit (suppose we’d have been totally frazzled and unrecognisable if it had been Centigrade) and it was a bit of a miracle that we were more or less upright.

Propped up in between Michael Williams and Dai in Kansas.