It certainly feels as if summer has arrived in our little corner of the world (west Cheshire) and golf courses all over the place are shrugging off the winter blues and beginning to look their best.  Just as well, because we are rolling in to that time of year that Ladies’ and Gents’ Captains’ Days are looming and, let’s face it, there have been poor pickings in that department over the last couple of years.

With all the challenges that golfers have faced, we as members must collectively offer up thanks to all those who took on two years of captaincy during the pandemic instead of one.  This unsung band of folk learned how to conduct club business via Zoom, how to run Covid friendly get-togethers when they were allowed and how to be the communication link par excellence between the staff and members.  And frequently their big day didn’t happen at all!

So, this blog sends very best wishes, not only to the current captains putting the finishing touches to all the details for the highlight of their year, but also to those immediate past captains who have relinquished most of their responsibilities and, hopefully, will be able to enjoy a stress-free time on the golf course.

Invitations are flooding in from everywhere at this time of year from busy, busy captains. This one from Roma English, renowned rules referee and ladies’ captain of a famous wee club in Norn Iron.

There is much evidence that golfers are beginning to travel further afield again.  Mary Hafeman, a pal and former American Curtis Cup player, who was on the opposing side to me at St Pierre back in the day, is a renowned teaching professional in the States and runs a successful business bringing her compatriots on golf trips.  It’s great to have her back in the UK and she currently has a group playing some of the great courses in Scotland.  A visit to the fabulously spectacular Castle Stuart in Inverness last weekend saw her hook up with Castle Stuart’s teaching professional Gillian Stewart, who also played in that long ago match at St Pierre.  The two of them dusted off their clubs and had a friendly fourball and no doubt there was a lot of reminiscing.

Gill and Mary having just conquered Castle Stuart!

My stand-out memory of that St Pierre Curtis Cup match was that the Americans sent their woollen trousers off to the local dry cleaners.  They had realised that although it was June it was going to be nowhere near warm enough for shorts and that despite bulging suitcases the temperatures dictated they would be wearing the woolly trews most days.  Imagine the horror of the Americans and the hilarity in the  British and Irish camp when the trousers arrived back, every single pair having shrunk?  Amazingly, they don’t look that out of place in this era of seven/eighths trousers and crops, but, boy, were they peculiar looking back then!

The quality of the photo isn’t great but you get the idea! Mary is far left.

I’ve often expounded on how I value the strands and connections formed through golf – strands that span decades and cross the globe.  Any week is improved when an email from Pia Nilsson pops into the inbox.  Pia is an educator extraordinaire, a former player of high standing and now an inspirational coach and developer of life skills.

She and her partner Lynn Marriott formed the phenomenally successful Vision 54 company and this blog has over the years unreservedly recommended their books and teachings.  Pia and Lynn, like Mary Hafeman, will also shortly be crossing the Atlantic, returning as they do most years to Pia’s native Sweden.  They take three weeks to decompress and recharge the batteries ready for more empowering but energy-sapping work.

Pia in her natural habitat – on the golf course and still swinging smoothly.  [From Pia’s FB page]

These little snippets of news about, and from, old pals, with whom one shares a common back story going back years, have always meant a lot to me.  They have been a bright part in a difficult last ten days in my journey back to health post Covid and a welcome escape from the medical world I find myself wrapped up in.  It all helps me feel connected to the game despite the fact I’m not yet ready to take to the fairways (or even the rough!) yet.

And now I am immersing myself in the second of the men’s majors, the PGA, which is being played at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  I was fortunate enough to be there in 2007 when Tiger won.  Then, the championship was played in August and the temperatures were well over 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) every day.  One of the difficulties was in keeping hydrated for five hours plus when doing commentary out on the course and matters weren’t helped by an officious marshal who refused to allow me a bottle of water from a drinks chest earmarked for the photographers.  The man was apoplectic when a snapper strode past him, opened the cooler and extracted two ice cold bottles, both of which he handed to me.  I could have married him on the spot – the photographer, not the marshal – as it was physically impossible to carry with you all the water you were going to require during the round.  The temperatures should be much kinder at this time of year and more suitable for the usual suspects I’ll be rooting for.

Southern Hills in Tulsa. The walk from the final green up to the clubhouse was almost enough to finish me off in the August heat. [From the PGA Championship website]

Come Sunday, will we have another European major winner holding the Wanamaker Trophy (see photo at top)?  Will Jordan Spieth have become the sixth man to achieve the Career Grand Slam of winning all four majors?  Or, whisper it, will the seemingly indestructible Tiger have annexed major number 16?  He has won here before, after all?!

As always, your guess is as good as mine.  Have a good week.