It’s more or less back to business as usual now, with players back to strokeplay – even though the Dunhill Links is not just some same old same old event, given the stellar cast of amateurs from sport, stage and screen, not forgetting assorted family and friends of varying degrees of skill and some of the best courses in the world.Don’t laugh but many years ago, in the dim, distant days when I worked for The Times, I got an invitation to play (and write about the experience). I said yes of course but my back, which was even dodgier then than it is now (thank you Clare in Bristol, Esther in California and the life-enhancing Gokhale Method), gave out and I had to withdraw long before I got anywhere near St Andrews and environs. I was never invited again.
On reflection, years later, I wondered if it had been psychosomatic in some way, caused by nerves, fear, stage fright, panic, whatever. The back was definitely bad – I could barely walk let alone swing – but I do remember worrying, not just about the golf but also about making my deadlines and writing readable stuff. There was also the certain knowledge that I wouldn’t recognise a single, solitary mega famous pop or film star, renowned all over the globe except chez Davies.
I’m not sure if it was during the Tandy period, when the computer screens were so small that you could only see four or five lines at a time and connections were as dodgy as my back. All that would have added to the anxiety, so perhaps I was just giving myself a bit of a pass, suffering from a physical ailment to relieve the pressure of being expected to perform. It’s not uncommon, so who knows?
For whatever reason, Europe’s Ryder Cup team were not at their best at Whistling Straits (did I tell you that I’ve played there, without distinction, a story for another day?) but they poured their heart and soul in to the match and on this occasion came up well short, beaten by a better team over the three days. Gutting but hardly the end of the world.
There’s a whole lot of guff spouted about strategy, pods, pairings, players too young, too old, to rest or not to rest, singles line-ups and so on. We all do it, pontificating and speculating, mostly badly but apparently one punter won a million dollars for an $8 stake by getting all twelve singles results right!!! How he must have cheered when Paul Casey’s putt at the last, to halve his match with Dustin Johnson, slipped agonisingly by – it looked in to me for most of the way; or when Harris English hoicked his approach to the 18th into a ditch/stream to lose to Lee Westwood; or when Matt Fitzpatrick gifted Daniel Berger the bottom match with a woeful duff at the same hole. Two matches finished all square, so could have gone either way and must have shredded a few more nerves.
If I were captain (suspend disbelief for the moment) of the Ryder or Solheim Cup or the Curtis or Walker Cup or any team for that matter, I’d want only two things: all my players playing well on the days of the competition and putting the lights out. See Leona Maguire for details.
Roll on Rome for the Ryder and Spain for the Solheim. And, please, please NO booing of the Americans on the first tee. They are our guests: we welcome them, then we MANGLE them, smiling politely as we do so.
Being involved as I still am, always will be, in the never-ending search for the perfect bag, I was delighted to receive a press release from a company called Meg & Bee, after its founders Meg Tudball and Bee Paul. They, it turns out, make bags and their “Classic Kit Bag” was at the Ryder Cup, doing duty with the European wives and girlfriends as they tramped the fairways putting a brave face on a pretty dire situation.That might just do me for my treks to watch the not-so-mighty Spurs – room for tissues (to mop up the tears), lippy, glasses, purse, hand gel, mobile, pencil, notebook (old habits die hard), car keys, all those awkward but necessary things that tend to make bulges in bags that are too small.
Of course the perfect bag doesn’t exist; it’s the search that’s the fun.
Not sure if there’s such a thing as a perfect jean but I just have to mention that the US Ryder Cup team had official jeans – no idea when they wore them and I think they retailed at about $500 but the great thing is that they had them and, even better, they were made in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Doesn’t ring any bells? That just means that you’re not an Elvis fan. I wasn’t particularly but my mate Kate is fanatical, so I absorbed plenty of Presley tidbits and I know for a fact that he was born in Tupelo, in a tiny shack that is now a museum. I went there once – the US Women’s Open was not that far away – and bought Kate some souvenirs, served by two women sporting the most amazing, jaw-droppingly perfect beehives and well-nigh impenetrable southern drawls. Perfect.
Finally, I couldn’t resist sharing this photo from Golf Ireland, of Tuam’s GolfSixes team. They’ve got to the national finals at Portmarnock on October 24th, along with Co. Louth, Millicent, Kilkenny, Doneraile, Tipperary, Lurgan and PORTSTEWART (sorry for the bias, home club!). Imagine the excitement. Good luck to everybody.