Boy, am I glad I’m not a proper journalist! Once again the empty screen is looking blankly at me (or should I say I’m looking blankly at it?) and it’s time for another blog. Ho hum! Those of you who have faithfully followed us for over the last three years deserve a medal – hopefully you’ve had a wee bit of entertainment along the way as a reward for your persistence.
As I write I’ve not even been home two weeks from the USPGA, the second of the men’s majors, and I’ve to gird my loins and have my bags packed so I can head off at the weekend to Pebble Beach (above) for the US Open. “Oh, shame. Poor you,” I can hear you cry in a tone dripping with sarcasm. Yes – I deserve that but it doesn’t change the fact that the thought of more hours at an airport is not an exciting or attractive proposition any longer, never mind what it’s doing in terms of carbon footprints and destruction of the planet. Is it old age creeping up on me, I wonder, or perhaps the cumulative effect of having constantly travelled for more than 40 years? Perhaps a bit of both, but I think it’s also that I’ve just had such a lovely last week/ten days that it really is becoming increasingly hard to head towards an airport.
The week kicked off with a lovely fourball at Delamere Forest, my home club. This was my second round of golf since my back decided to play silly buggers with me out in South Africa in early February and I felt I’d been released from prison and was once again breathing fresh air. Isn’t it amazing how your perspective of a good day’s golf changes over the years? Once, long ago, my pleasure from the game was all outcome driven – it was the result, the score which was the only thing that mattered and if the score was bad, it had been a bad day. I suppose that that’s understandable from an ambitious youngster who wants to represent their country and see how good they can be.
Now, however, it’s the company, the course and perhaps also the weather that are important to me. After that the pleasure of one or two satisfyingly struck shots will be enough to bring me back out the next time, in my, now, tempered yet still ambitious, intent to play as well as I can. I’ve learned not to let poor golf (inevitable when you don’t play that often) get in the way of my enjoyment.
After Delamere my next treat was 27 holes at the wonderful Royal Porthcawl in South Wales. The Saturday was amazingly warm and sunny and I joined forces with two old buddies of mine – Julie Thomas and Pam Chugg, both former Welsh champions and internationals and members of the club – for a round full of laughs and the odd birdie or two. In all my visits to Porthcawl this was the best weather I had ever encountered but the following day was nasty enough to curtail a keen Irish versus English/Welsh foursomes match to nine holes. Ah, well that’s golf on this little island of ours.
The week was also fun, and hugely memorable, for other reasons. Two events took place that hadn’t occurred once in the last 30 years. The first was meeting up for lunch with my old friend Lisa Isherwood, another former Welsh international player who is now a Professor of Theology at the University of Winchester. I think I may have mentioned elsewhere in this blog that in 1977 Lisa and I were the first two women from these shores to go to the States on a golf scholarship. Something that is now commonplace was unheard of then and I suppose in our own little way we were trailblazers.
Upon returning home, eventually, our paths diverged and we lost touch, but this year a mooted golf reunion back in Texas sent me off sleuthing and we have reconnected, determined now not to lose touch again. Our lunch resulted in four hours of non-stop chat and catch up (well, 30 years IS a long time) and the next date is in the diary. I’m fully aware of, and thankful for, all my parents did for me in my life, but possibly their biggest single gift to me was introducing me to golf. That’s the glue that binds almost all the meaningful strands of my life together.
Finally, for the first time since I was last an amateur (back in 1986) I played in a club Invitation Day! My pal, Annette Stroud, invited me to her club Dunham Forest, near Altrincham in Cheshire.
I have played there before and the welcome is always second to none. Paul Dennis, the club professional and a very respected teacher, is a most impressive first point of contact for visitors to the club and that quality of friendliness continues from the rest of the club staff, and, of course, from the members themselves. We got out of jail with the weather, only getting wet on the last four holes which, given the forecast, was a minor miracle. Still, I would play through any – and I mean ANY – conditions to reach the sanctuary of the clubhouse and the wonderful food supplied by chef Lesley Saxon. I told her I have never eaten any food to equal hers at any golf club I have ever visited, anywhere. And I stand by that. Simply delicious.
The lady captain Susan Lentin presided perfectly over a great day – a lovely golf course and outstanding food. What a winning combination! Thank you Annette.
And now what, after such a super week? Oh, no! Back to the packing and the airport.
Destination Pebble, though. Bring it on.