Writing this week’s blog has taken me back many years to when I was a very bad, undistinguished student in Edinburgh and lived in a tenement flat, 92 steps up. It was a perfectly nice flat but it was blooming freezing (I was going to be alliterative but checked the dictionary and decided against it) and I’m not sure how I managed to stay up through the night to write my essays without succumbing to hypothermia. There was a resident mouse who kept me company but no radiators. I suppose I was just younger and tougher in those days.
Anyway, it’s the cold that’s triggered the memories because the boiler’s conked out and as you can see above I’ve got the fingerless gloves on and the fisherman’s jersey, from Scarborough, knitted many years ago by Marion Brocklehurst, bought during a trip to Ganton. The fault message on the boiler means that it needs an expert to fix it, not me fiddling with a couple of buttons. “Contact your approved competent person,” the book counselled. He’s pitching up today, all being well. In the meantime, while the car freezes over outside, I’m trying to practise mind over matter and am testing out a friend’s theory that cold showers are invigorating and not just for pupils at schools like Gordonstoun. It’s certainly an energy- and water-saving device if my shower yesterday was anything to go by; doubt it lasted more than 10 seconds!On the golf front, there’s lots going on, not least Graeme McDowell rediscovering his mojo with victory in Saudi Arabia to lots of cheering in this quarter (despite reservations about having a tournament there at all). Almost as much as when Ireland beat Scotland in Dublin, thanks in no small part to the Scots’ unerring and enduring ability to shoot themselves in both feet at once. Perhaps it’s just a gift; perhaps they don’t believe in psychologists, sports or otherwise, because they haven’t come close to working out what causes it, this enduring capacity to bugger things up, to ensure that defeat trumps victory almost every time. Perhaps they’ll get it sorted for the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield tomorrow.
It might take a little longer to sort out the problem of how far the golf ball is going these days – not in my world, admittedly but in professional circles, rendering the game more smash and gouge than anything more thoughtful and skilful, as a general rule. The R&A and the USGA, the game’s governing bodies, have been giving this conundrum some thought – not before time some would say – and the Distance Insights Project is still a work in progress. If you have a solution or a suggestion, don’t keep it to yourself, let the authorities know, so that they can include it in their deliberations.
McDowell is not one of the big bombers but he can still compete if the course and the conditions are right, though he’s rarely going to start any event as the favourite solely because of his lack of length. Should that be right?
Down here, at the lower level of the game, as Maureen may have mentioned, I’ve just had my second hole-in-one in 55 years of trying – and I haven’t seen either of them because of the nature of the hole. That makes the experience less exciting than it should be, especially when you’re playing your least favourite hole, one where you have to finagle because there’s nothing in your bag – of clubs or skill – that’ll fit the shot that’s required. The 13th at WHGC is the shortest hole on the course, with bunkers front and side and it’s the bane of my life.
On Tuesday, in a needle match, I thought I’d hit something I’d got away with, not brilliant but not too bad but having trundled up to the green there was no sign of the ball. It wasn’t in the bunker on the left, it wasn’t where I’d hoped it might be, on the front edge of the green, so I’m peering over the back when my opponent looks in the hole and says, “This is going to cost you a lot of money….” What can you do but laugh – and buy a few drinks when you get back to the clubhouse. And I lost the match.
Anyway, it got us telling tall but true tales about holes-in-one. Playing in the West of England at Burnham and Berrow many years ago, a Midlands stalwart hit a lovely shot to a longish par 3 with an elevated green. There was a woman on a bench behind the green but she sat there unmoved and on reaching the green the golfer was surprised to find that his ball was in the hole. “I’ve been here for half an hour,” the spectator said, “and you’re the first person I’ve seen do that……”
Then there was the man, who wasn’t short of a bob or two, who had a hole-in-one during a big competition at The Berkshire and asked his playing partner to write down a 2, to save on the bar bill. The marker refused and didn’t waste any time recounting the story…..
Finally, you’re never too young to become a golf obsessive and young Fred here, who’s not yet 4, is already a sad case. He sits on his bed, pretending to drive and announces that he’s going to the airport for his holidays with his golf clubs in the boot and his iPad in case he wants to watch the golf when he’s away…..When he’s not driving the car, he’s hitting shots.