A blog is a bit of a diary I suppose, so perhaps I shouldn’t feel guilty about going all me, me, me again, look where I’ve been playing this time.

Hillside’s clubhouse on the right, Birkdale’s on the left.


It’s not as though there’s not lots going on:  Rory getting married – congrats to him and Erica; Padraig making up with Sergio; Justin teaming up with Henrik in the vaguely innovative Zurich Classic (foursomes and fourballs not just individual 72-hole strokeplay, hallelujah); Florentyna Parker beating Anna Nordqvist and Carlota Ciganda in a play-off in Spain; Rickie Fowler apparently on the verge of abandoning most-eligible-bachelorhood; Lexi in tears after the R&A and USGA amended the decisions on video evidence (though whether it would have saved her or not at the ANA is the subject of much discussion); Marta Figueras-Dotti addressing the great and the good of golf  in St Andrews; a Rosses Point man winning the West of Ireland for the first time in 67 years – congrats to Barry Anderson; the men of Whittington Heath winning the annual match against the women (sorry, ladies!) again…..Well done boys, well played gentlemen….

West of Ireland winner Barry Anderson [Irish Golf Desk]

In that particular encounter, my partner and I, playing off 16 and 13 respectively, were beaten 4 and 3 by a late substitute, who’d already played 18 holes, playing off 16 and my dancing partner, a leftie playing off 17.  It was classic matchplay and an object lesson in the importance of bearing down from the off.  We let them off the hook at the 1st by three-putting but were two up after 3, then lost the 4th when they holed from 18 feet up the slope for a par 3 and we three-putted.  Three over par after 3, four over after 5, they were six over par gross when the match ended on the 15th, where we’d needed a birdie 2 to have any chance of keeping the match alive.  Hmmm.

All suggestions for tackling the knotty problem of handicapping in mixed matches gratefully received!  Also, are men just naturally more competitive than women?….Nah, I don’t think so, really.  Putting lesson please.

Anyway, having reluctantly accepted that you can try hard and be stubborn and uncompromising but still lose even when the skill levels are much of a muchness, I have to concede that I am not the stuff that British and Irish Lions are made of.  Too dozy, too flaky, too bad at maths always to count the score properly.  Not sure I can even claim it’s hormonal at my age; think the hormones have buggered off or gone to sleep or on strike or whatever it is they do.

I perked up the next day though, because I played at Hillside for the first time and it was just as wonderful as I’d been told.  It was a gloriously bright day, a tad chilly but with very little breeze and looking down the 1st fairway, it was just begging you to play golf.  Even non-golfers could see the attraction!

Glorious golfing territory on a glorious day for golf

As members of the AGW (Association of Golf Writers) we had been granted courtesy of the course to play our President’s Putter comp but I bought a ball-retriever gizmo for £22 so that I could have my £4 retro two-wheeled trolley (three wheels are de rigueur these days surely?) for nothing.  Not every member of the AGW has a head for figures, which is why we usually play Stableford because our scores often don’t amount to much.  If we stuck to strokeplay, even a computer might crash and all too few rounds would be played to a finish.

There’s a railway running alongside the course, as railways should, with S & A (Southport and Ainsdale GC) on the other side of the track, to the left as you’re playing the 1st.  To the right, with the stands for the Open already going up, is Royal Birkdale, so you’d be hard pushed to find a better stretch of golfing territory anywhere.  Formby and Formby Ladies are a short hop away, so there’s proper golf everywhere you turn.

No sweat, thanks to Mo’s tip!

Mo’s bunker tip from last week came in very handy at Hillside, where I was in the sand so often that the old Lawrence of Arabia jokes started to pall a lot.  The only time I failed to get out first time was at the last, where I panicked and didn’t follow the instructions.  Still, I was pleased enough with my haul of 30 points, not least because it meant that I joined several others in second place, one behind the winner Dick Turner.  The PP is not the prettiest of trophies and one former winner, retrieving it from his garage where it had languished, unloved, for a year, was told by his wife, in no uncertain terms:  “NEVER BRING THAT THING BACK HERE AGAIN.”

He hasn’t.

Dick Turner, right, accepts the PP from Jim O’Shaugnessy, our host and chairman of Hillside GC. At the bar, one of the runners-up looks on, sort of.  Name withheld!