Given the unrelenting rain we’ve been having for days on end in this part of the world, the blog decided to lighten the gloom by starting with a photograph (golf related) from sunnier climes.Many, many years ago, I was due to play a round at Pebble Beach – and I cried off. I had a stinking, streaming cold, the sort that makes it hard to lift your head up – maybe not such a problem for a golfer – and helped Kleenex make billions. I thought that I’d play Pebble another time, when I was feeling better and could enjoy the experience. I’m still waiting.
Ah well, you can’t win ’em all. (Although I suspect that Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods didn’t get where they are today by thinking like that.)
On reflection, I don’t regret not playing that day because it would have been hideous for me and unpleasant for my playing partners. What was the point? Simply so I could say that I’d played Pebble? Was it wonderful? No. It was bloody awful!
And of course it is wonderful, as the pictures from this week’s US Open are already proving. Jack Nicklaus once said that if he was told he had only one round left to play, he’d head for Pebble. If you get a chance to play it, do. Even if you have to save up for the flight, accommodation and the $500 plus for the green fee, caddy, tip and so on. Mind you, with that sort of outlay, you want to feel in good enough shape to hit the odd decent shot and appreciate the view.Anyway, at least I’ve played Cypress Point.
And I’m pretty sure that, even better, I beat Dai comfortably. (One of the few bonuses of being a widow is that your husband’s no longer around to contradict you.)
I’ve rooted out my faded but still wearable Pebble Beach windcheater – it is flaming June after all, so the summer gear has been folded away again. Many thanks to Suzanne Rundle, WHGC’s multi-talented ladies’ captain, for taking time out of her busy schedule to snap the photo that graces the top of this piece, known in blog circles as the featured image. You can tell the top is old, an antique really, because the (non) logo is so tasteful as to be nearly invisible to the naked eye. Those were the days. The top is also reversible and will be making another appearance, in its more garish guise, at a later date….
This half of the blog makes a habit of staying up late on a Thursday – usually well in to Friday morning, if the truth be told – so the 8-hour time difference between here and California is not too much of a problem. Admittedly, the lack of sleep can play merry hell with my bidding – always inclined to be dodgy – at beginners’ bridge on a Friday morning and this week there’s the additional consideration of a family curry night. Followed by ladies’ captain’s day on Saturday, with a shotgun shot at 1000, weather permitting…….Could be a bit of a groggy, soggy weekend.
On a more optimistic note, as the rain hammered down last Sunday (the 9th of June), a friend reminded me that it had snowed on that day in 1976 and that summer had turned out to be one of the hottest on record. She remembered the date because it was her mother’s birthday and she and a friend were on their way to a county match.
Maureen, who’s also good at dates, announced that last Sunday was exactly 40 years since she’d won the Ladies British Amateur Championship at Nairn. Mum and Molly Boyd, always up for a jaunt, had travelled to Scotland with Mo but Dad and I had to hurtle to Aldergrove airport in my Renault 4, taking most of the corners on two wheels, fly to Glasgow, then Inverness, to make the final. Dad, who’d been at work, had only the brown suit he’d travelled in, so on the morning of the final Mum’s main concern was taking him to the pro’s shop to get him kitted out in more suitable golf-watching gear.
Fortunately, we didn’t realise until afterwards just how good Jane Lock, Mo’s opponent, a much-decorated Australian, was. Mo, very much an outside bet, had a bit of a Spieth week on the greens and it’s not too much of a stretch to say that it was a week that changed her life.
This year’s championship, now known as the Women’s Amateur, which finishes tomorrow, is at Royal County Down and whoever the champion is, she’ll always be able to say that she won her title on one of the world’s great golf courses. Not sure though, Northern Ireland being a bit of a throwback in far too many respects, that she would be able to join the club as a full member.
Must also check that we women are now on an equal footing at Portrush. And has Portmarnock, which hosts the Amateur Championship next week, changed? Seem to remember that it wasn’t that long ago that the club manned the barricades and went to court to maintain its antediluvian attitudes towards women. It’s hard to keep up and I suspect I must be lagging behind the times because otherwise, course quality notwithstanding, why would the R&A be holding three of their most important championships at these places?
Answers welcome. Am always happy to be dragged, kicking and screaming, back into the loop.
Ending on a less contentious note, I’ve got to mention the RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf and Country Club in Ontario, which was an unadulterated Irish triumph. Rory McIlroy, who won by seven shots, was majestic, finishing with a round of 61 that had 59 written all over it until two late bogeys; Shane Lowry shared second place with Webb Simpson, who holed an outrageous chip at the last; and Graeme McDowell, who needed to finish in the top 10 to qualify for the Open, did so by holing a par putt of at least 30 feet on the last green.
McDowell, who’s from Portrush, couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on the biggest party in golf and admitted he was “hugely relieved” to claim his spot. “It’s going to be epic on that 1st tee,” he said. “The fans are going to offer huge support and they are excited to have the best players in the world come to Portrush. It’s going to be very special.”