Well, that’s it for us now too. It’s our turn again to enter this strange, lockdown world that we are periodically required to inhabit. It means, of course, no golf, so last Tuesday our fourball endured every sort of weather imaginable to complete 18 holes, knowing it’d be our last for a while. The final six holes were played in a whirlwind of hailstones which meant there was no reluctance whatsoever to leave the greensward and we pretty much ran up the hill to the clubhouse to get dry and have a bowl of soup. The clubhouse, however, is not the welcoming place it used to be. The lounge is set up with a dozen or so tables for one, all suitably distanced, with chairs all facing forward. It’s reminiscent of a school examination hall and woe betide any person who turns their chair through 90 degrees for any reason whatsoever. That, we are assured, is breaking the law. Four weeks away from the course will be difficult; four weeks away from the clubhouse with its current regulations will not. Roll on more normal times.
Once again most of us are going to be left with a little more time on our hands than usual. The other day I saw on Facebook that a great pal of mine from Oz, Dennise Hutton, was celebrating a birthday. (I think there’s a very good chance that I won’t be using FB too much in the future. I’m starting to read the book, “Zucked: Waking up to the Facebook catastrophe.” by Roger McNamee. Big sis tells me I’ll never use FB again after reading it, because of how they use your data……but I digress…..) Back to Dennise.
We met way back in the 1970s when D came over with the Australian team to play in several European tournaments, including the British Amateur and we have remained firm friends ever since. I’m convinced all Australians are born with the travel gene in them. Or perhaps it’s just that their beleaguered parents start brainwashing their little horrors from an early age with phrases such as, “WHEN you leave to go overseas…..” and “You WILL be visiting Aunt Susie in London….” Whatever the reason, loads of talented Aussie players beat a path to the Ladies’ European Tour in the early days and it was on tour that we really cemented our friendship, often staying in the same place and frequently enjoying dinner and a nice glass of something together, along with a veritable barrel-load of laughs.
D worked hard on her game and it paid dividends when she won back-to-back titles on the Ladies’ European Tour. Her first win was a matchplay tournament in Spain when she beat yours truly in the final on the last green. I don’t remember much about the match except we halved the first sixteen holes of the 18-hole final with D breaking the deadlock on the 17th. She rode the wave of that victory to a win the following week at Biarritz in France, home ground of the multi-talented Marie-Laure de Lorenzi. I thought I had a photo of her wins somewhere but having just been up to the attic to look, I have beaten a hasty retreat back down, totally defeated by the mountain of boxes, old suitcases and abandoned holdalls with faded logos, all overflowing with junk. That task may well have to head my “lockdown list”.
Another talented Australian pal, who came straight from college in the US to play in Europe, was Anne Rollo, nee Jones. Anne also won on tour – at the, sadly, recently closed Patshull Park near Wolverhampton, where we had a tour event for a number of years. Softly spoken and blessed with terrific looks, Anne was a sponsor’s dream and was never less than immaculate on the course. I seem to remember she got very nervous in tournaments at one time but she overcame that to become a winner. After living in England for a number of years Anne returned to Australia and Sydney and, like Dennise, forged a tremendous business in the hitherto male-dominated world of top-class coaching.
Earlier this year Anne and Dennise decided to join forces, forming a company together, ProGolfGals, to further their love of coaching and helping people improve their golf games. Their mission statement would appear to include having maximum fun at the same time.I urge all of you with time on your hands (and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t at the moment!) to look up their ProGolfGals site and their YouTube channel for brilliant tips, entertaining chat, equipment advice, fashion info and much, much more. They run a number of coaching weeks and I’ve never seen a pair who seem to surpass even their pupils’ capacity for the amount of enjoyment they get! It’ll cheer you up no end on what Dad used to call the LDDBC, (the long dark days before Christmas). They bring boundless energy to everything they do and shame me with how much they are still learning, still expanding their knowledge and still improving.
In this world, which seems to have grown larger again since travel restrictions were imposed, it’s fun to be able to check in with your pals’ lives and see how much success they are enjoying on the other side of the globe. They both still play a pretty mean game, as you will see on one of their YouTube videos but my all-time favourite was when they filmed themselves watching the denouement of the 2020 Women’s Australian Open. I fear alcohol may have been involved – but Aussies are spoiled for choice when it comes to a decent drop of wine!Watch and enjoy. It’s nice to know that something good thing has come out of 2020.