It’s been quite a week, a week packed with more activity, work, responsibility and travel than the whole of the last 18 months put together. My fateful tangle with Covid back in November 2021 meant that my interaction with anything other than the medical world has been on very short ration (as my late Dad would have said). This last week, however, has been glorious.
It all started with my stepson’s wedding to his long-term partner, a happy, joyous occasion in a sublime setting in Yorkshire, north of Sheffield. A 48-hour bubble in a luxurious setting with two sets of family and friends with time to connect, reconnect and just be. Arguably the happiest wedding I have ever attended and all orchestrated by the delightfully smitten bride and groom. Alas, no posting of a happy snap of the couple here, as they requested no social media pics of the pair of them.
Brian and I left this cloistered world for a long, tiring trip to the States, destination Augusta, Georgia, for the eagerly awaited Masters tournament. The stress levels rose immediately as our Manchester to Amsterdam flight was only landing at the time our Amsterdam to Atlanta one should have been taking off. They held the plane for us (and the half dozen or so members of Abergele Golf Club we met en route) and we staggered aboard the plane with no little relief. Would our luggage make it, we wondered?
Nine hours later we landed in Atlanta and found our way to an arrivals hall bursting at the seams with folk and the unappetising prospect of queuing for hours to clear customs and immigration. We eventually weathered that particular storm and were rewarded with the welcome, and somewhat unexpected, sight of our suitcases awaiting us. Phew! Now, just the little task of phoning the airport hotel we were staying in to get them to send their shuttle bus for us.
Phoning done, we went to the collection point and waited……and waited…….and waited. Understandably wilting badly after the exertions of the wedding and having left our beds some 20 hours earlier we decided to join yet another queue, this time for a taxi. A delightful French girl overheard our arrangements and asked to join us as she was staying in the same hotel. She was on her way to spend some time surfing in Nicaragua, flying the next morning to Puerto Rico before catching a bus across the border. Suddenly, a trip to the Masters felt, well, quite ordinary.
A car service picked us up the next morning and whipped us down to Augusta amid a flurry of rain storms and showers. Within minutes of arrival, it seemed, I was bundled up in my waterproofs and off out on the course with my friend and colleague Fred Albers, taking my first few tentative steps back into broadcasting for Sirius XM. With the pandemic and then my illness, it had been almost four years. Time to start scraping off the rust!
The difficulties of the rain delays and then working out of sodden broadcasting positions for hours on end while wearing six or seven layers of clothing all became worthwhile when we enjoyed a rain-free, 30-hole final day of sunshine on the Sunday. The Sirius XM team did an incredible job, having been on site for ten days, covering the Augusta Women’s National Amateur and then the Drive, Chip and Putt before gearing up for the Masters tournament itself. Ultimate pros who absorbed my rustiness without missing a beat.
I watched Rory when he had driven off the 18th tee on Friday. The normal, trampoline bounce of his gait was gone and it was with a very measured tread that he made his way up the hill at the last and into his car for the journey home. Disappointment oozing from every pore.
I watched Jon Rahm win his first ever DP World tour title back in 2017 at Portstewart where Patricia and I grew up and played our golf with family and friends. It was beyond cool to see him add a second major to his tally and a first green jacket. He would be leaving Augusta National Golf Club with a completely different raft of emotions from Rory.Monday morning for us meant a lift back to the dreaded Atlanta airport with a colleague where we picked up a hire car and made a beeline for a secluded cabin near Blue Ridge in northern Georgia. A few days much-needed recovery nestled in the Chattahoochee National Forest has been divine. With a hot tub as well as a hammock on the verandah it’s been the perfect place to reflect on the Masters, the wedding and assorted topics.
You may even start hearing from me a little more often in this blog!