Well, blog not even started and the blogger is already exhausted, ready for her bed and the big day ahead. It’s back to Beginner’s Bridge at the golf club – inside, in the clubhouse, attack of the vapours, reach for the smelling salts; then – and this is the reason for the extreme tiredness – visitors are arriving. TO STAY.
They’ll need beds (can I find them under the mounds of papers and photos that are in the never-ending process of being sorted but not yet discarded?); food (my cobbled-together lockdown gunges will probably not pass muster); and somewhere to sit (I’m sure there was a sofa here somewhere and wasn’t there a chair squeezed into my small hall?); and just where is the dining room table?
Many years ago one of my younger rellies gave me a copy of Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying”. Astute beyond her years and knowing that I already had a very tattered paperback copy, she opted for a hard back…..We’re still speaking…..And I’m still tidying, or trying to.
Luckily the (US) PGA Championship has just started at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island in South Carolina, so as I tap away at the keyboard I’m accompanied by 5 Live (Sports Extra now that it’s heading towards midnight and beyond) and Sky Sports on the telly. Iain Carter, BBC Radio’s golf correspondent is, shock, horror, actually at the tournament and not sitting watching a screen or three in Salford. He flew for the first time in 14 months and was so out of training that he forgot to take any trousers with him (apart, presumably, from what he was wearing as he took off).
It’s lovely to see players playing in front of spectators, all in their shirt sleeves (or sleeveless) on a bright, breezy day by the seaside. Kiawah is looking gorgeous but if you’ve got a card and pencil in your hand and a major trophy to play for, you won’t be doing too much relaxing and admiring the scenery; you’ll be, in the professional vernacular, grinding it out.
This is a tough, tough golf course and, come to think of it, the best players in the world (the top, top players as they’ve become, in football circles at least) are more accustomed to playing courses that they can tear to pieces if they’re on their game, not places that force them to think, create and struggle every inch (or centimetre) of the way. I don’t want to see them on autopilot week in, week out. I like seeing them having to pull out all the stops, displaying all those hard-earned skills.
What I don’t like is seeing them (or their caddies) using rangefinders. Yuk, yuk, yuk. Rory was asking about a drop for an embedded ball at the base of a wee sandhill on the edge of one of the many sandy waste areas (he didn’t get it) and Harry (Rory’s caddy) was up on the hill peering through a gizmo that made him look like a rank amateur! Use them in the practice rounds by all means but it’s been a big mistake to allow them in proper competition. And as for those crib books they use on the greens…..don’t get me started.
In the top, top championships, send them out with ten clubs, no aids (caddy and yardage book apart) and stamp out static summit meetings (discussions should be on the move, approaching shots, ambulatory assessments if you will). Surely even Bryson DeChambeau, especially Bryson, the prince of precision, can adjust his cogs to work faster, more intuitively, relying on his preparation and memory? Too late, too late, I hear you cry, that ship has sailed (or whatever) and I suppose you’re right.
I always think of alligators when I think of Kiawah – the one above is just a tiddler compared to some of the primeval monsters lurking deep in the swamps away from the surf and the beach. I hope they’re still in there somewhere, going about their business quietly, effectively, timelessly.
It’s many years since Dai and I visited the island and did one of the beach safaris – awesome. We also played the Ocean Course and would have enjoyed it immensely if we hadn’t been lumbered with a playing partner who couldn’t play but insisted on going off the tips. The back tees provided a ferocious enough test even then and it was so far beyond him – a salesman from Florida, I think – that it was a miracle he only lost 32 balls. (Dai counted – furiously.)
We played from tees much more suited to our ability and had plenty of time to admire the views and take long, deep breaths of sea air. There was also undoubtedly enough of a breeze to disperse the steam billowing from under Dai’s hat….I think I won our match but don’t remember having a drink with our salesman afterwards.
The pictures from Kiawah look glorious and I’d love to let Mary McKenna loose there with her camera. Luckily for us, she’s still honing her skills at home and producing photos that are nothing short of stunning. Thank you Mary.
From the sublime to the slightly ridiculous: this Sunday Maureen, Brian and I are taking part in Cycle Spring 2021 in aid of St Giles Hospice, where Dai was looked after before he died (on May the 19th 2008). Brian, a proper cyclist, is doing 52 miles and Mo and I are attempting 27. Let’s hope the weather is kind and my little sister can steer me safely home….
Here’s the link (I hope) to our page:-