Phew, what a scorcher. This is really not my sort of weather. One of my brothers-in-law, who grew up in Scotland, hates the cold and loves the heat but it’s hard to take the north Atlantic coast out of a girl. Take the temperature up towards the 80s Fahrenheit – old-fashioned I know but it sounds hotter than the mid-20s Centigrade – and I’m starting to wilt.
At a club championship three or four years ago – I only entered to make up the numbers and have a tilt at the nett – my partners thought I was going to expire as I wobbled up the 18th and were mightily relieved that I survived the journey and they didn’t have to resort to CPR, or whatever. Hardly worth noting that I was barely on the planet, let alone in the prizes.
I’ve probably mentioned that I once played golf in 106 degrees F, in Kansas, at the fabled Prairie Dunes. There’s a picture somewhere of my partners and me looking anything but calm, cool and collected; we look like just what we were – exhausted, wiped out, incapable of speech let alone a golf swing of any effectiveness; although, come to think of it, none of us any longer had much of a swing at all!
Earlier this week, on Tuesday, I played the West Course at Wentworth for the first time in about 30 years, on an afternoon that was more than hot enough to drain my increasingly limited resources. Even when I was younger, fitter and a much better golfer, the West was always too hard and too long for me. Now it is much longer and much harder and in contrast to most of the rest of the country, very green and lush, with a minimum amount of run.
It was a shotgun start and our first hole was the faraway 13th, at the outer reaches of the course. We were ferried out and were trying to think of a harder hole to start on before concluding that every hole was hard, especially for the likes of us. I peaked early, hitting three decent shots – it’s a par 4 – and holing a slippery downhill 25-footer for an unlikely par. Taxi! Time for me to head in….
That was my major triumph but one of our number parred the 17th and had a birdie four at the 18th, where the stands were going up for the BMW PGA Championship next month. There was a prize for nearest the pin in three – I couldn’t even get over Ernie’s much-maligned blasted water feature in five (or was it six?) – and my mate was maybe ten feet away. It wasn’t close enough because somebody had already planted the pole four or five feet away. We looked to see who it was. Rob Lee. What?
And yes, it was the Rob Lee, star of Sky, tour winner, one-time proper golfer, who won it. Playing off the yellow tees (often not that far back from the reds)!! Has the man no shame? On reflection I wondered why he was so far away in three but it turned out he’d been in a bunker somewhere along the way. Too much time in the studio I suppose…
Waiting to go into dinner, I noticed a neat, natty buddy and thought he looked familiar, a bit like Anton du Beke, the dancer. Turned out it was Anton, of Strictly fame, now one of the judges, released from the purgatory of partnering many a no-hope hoofer. He’s a member at Wentworth, where he used to play a lot with his hero Bruce Forsyth, another avid golfer. Bet Anton came off the course looking immaculate, with not a hair out of place – unlike me, a red-faced, behatted limp rag. Just as well I can’t take selfies and haven’t got a copy of the group photo.
The whole day was a fundraiser in memory of Clare Lipscombe, Ben Smith and Kate Wright, who all worked for the European Tour and died far too early. At the dinner, Simon Alliss, son of Peter and Jackie, conducted a charity auction in aid of the three charities nominated by the bereaved families: Beat SCAD; GUTS UK; and Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. At the last count, £110,000 had been raised but I confess I wasn’t tempted to bid for the Chelsea v Man Utd hospitality package…
At least super Spurs have started the season well – without my help. They were beating Southampton 4-1 as I was heading for Edgbaston to watch New Zealand play Australia in the Commonwealth Games T20 semi-final. It was a cracking game, with the Aussies just about having the upper hand and we had a great evening out. The next day NZ beat England to win the bronze medal and Australia defeated India to win the gold.
I’ll miss the all-action Commonwealth Games and as a memento of a brilliant bash in Brum treated myself to a Perry, the mascot who lolled about on the BBC sofa while Clare, Hazel and co did all the work. He looks quite at home beside Bully, the water buffalo from Franschhoek.