Well, we’ve had to wait for more than a year because of the pesky virus (nothing like a bit of understatement to start with) but at last the Curtis Cup returns to Wales.  The United States team have bounced in to Conwy keen to retain the trophy they won in crushing style at Quaker Ridge three yeas ago but the beauty of team matchplay is that nothing’s ever won on paper.  The game, remember, is played on grass.

Over here: the Americans full of bounce and bonhomie in practice. Note the barriers: there’ll be some spectators!!! [R&A]

Maureen and I got up at 0500 yesterday (well, she did, I was a little bit later being lighter on the ablutions) because we wanted to be there for the off at 0745.  It was the first day after all and we knew how important it was to a lot of our friends, how long-awaited and there is something special about the start of a big match, be it Curtis Cup, Walker Cup, Solheim, Ryder, whatever.

There isn’t a Welsh player on the GB and I team but as Gerald Micklem once said of a Walker Cup team, rebuking someone moaning about a lack of one nationality or another:  “There are no English, no Irish, no Welsh, no Scots…”  It’s like the Lions really:  one for all, all for one.  If you haven’t heard of Micklem – and the people who knew him well are now few and far between and pretty long in the tooth – look him up.  He may seem like ancient history but there’s far, far too much to Gerald, a real golfing visionary and benefactor, to squeeze into a few words.

The players grinding on the greens while some of us, golfers relieved of the need to score, take in the view.

For several hundred of us, maybe more, in a little corner of north Wales it was a lovely day, catching up with any number of old friends (well, I suppose, if truth be told, most of our friends are old now…), watching some very good young golfers battling their hearts out on a lovely golf course in benign conditions.  They’ve become part of something special and will probably only really appreciate just how special years from now.  There’s probably nothing better than attending a Curtis Cup as a “past player”.  Much more relaxing than being a current player!

There were enough spectators to justify the presence of numerous white-jacketed marshals, mustered from clubs from all over Wales and possibly beyond, to keep us in some sort of order.

The Vale of Llangollen crew preparing for action. No one who knows them could believe they’d been designated to keep us quiet….

Quite a few people who would never miss a Curtis Cup have had to stay away for a variety of reasons, not least the current restrictions, so Mo and I took as many snaps as we could, to give a flavour of the day.  Also, modern technology means that not only can you watch the action on Sky and the Golf Channel but on the R&A’s digital platforms, live streamed (I think that just means live, as it happens) through YouTube and Facebook as well as randa.org.

A picture is worth a thousand words, allegedly and if we were to recount all the tales told yesterday, this blog would never end!  It’s a miracle we got back home at all.

Elaine Ratcliffe, the GB and I captain, looking unbelievably relaxed, with Julie Otto, a multiple Curtis Cupper, one of the best amateurs of her generation.

GB and I, confounding the odds and the perennial pessimists, had the best of the opening day, so their captain, ever affable, didn’t have the worry of scrabbling around to put a positive spin on things.  She just had to smile and look at the scoreboard, well aware that today is another day entirely.

Sarah Ingram, captain of the USA, had a less comfortable day – being 4 1/2  – 1 1/2 down is not the start you dream of – but she probably had no need of a team talk last night, the scoreboard said it all.

US captain Ingram watching on a tad anxiously. She’ll hope that her team of stars prove that today really is another day.

The choice of an action photo is completely random – Mo just happened to be there at the time, trusty phone in hand and we both liked the image and the colour.  No Irish bias here of course….

Lauren Walsh, of Castlewarden GC near Dublin and Wake Forest University, North Carolina.

Finally, as a homage to the incomparable Mary McKenna, who is at home in Ireland, we include a water shot, of Conwy Marina.  No birds in flight in sight admittedly but our photography is a work in progress…Stationary boats are hard enough.


I noticed that the old codgers, sorry, seniors, sorry, sorry, legends (probably with a capital ‘L’) were playing in Ireland last week, in Donegal – if you’ve never been, don’t delay, GO – and Thomas Bjorn won the Irish Legends presented by the McGinley Foundation at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort.  It was the Dane’s first win on the Legends Tour and he beat Phillip Price of Wales at the second hole of a play-off after a final round of 65, six under par.  They finished a whopping six shots ahead of Peter Baker, Peter Wilson and Mauricio Molina.

“It was nice,” Bjorn said.  “As a sportsman there’s no greater feeling than Sunday afternoon.  It doesn’t really matter where it is, I really got into it…I recognised myself and I haven’t seen that person for quite a while, which is nice.  It’s pretty special winning any golf tournament….I’m really glad I came.  It’s a wonderful part of Ireland and a wonderful part of the world.”

And I thought the trophy, which was what really caught my eye, was worth winning.  It was handmade in county Offaly, from old Irish native beech.  There’s no way that’ll be ending up in the back of a cupboard!

Thomas Bjorn with a trophy to covet. [Getty Images]