I was fiddling about the other day on social media (has there ever been a more time-wasting activity?) when I came across a little video of Charlie Woods, son of Tiger, teeing off in the second round of something or other. The announcer started off with a bellow, ” ….and now the 06.32 tee time …” and a mini Tiger came out of the early morning gloom and teed up his ball.
Then a strange thing happened. This young man turned into Rory McIlroy, right down to the identical follow-through and the ball was dispatched into the mist. Charlie strode off the tee, turning to hand his club to his caddy, 15-time major champion and Dad, Tiger, who, it has to be said, looked as if he was walking normally, a rare occurrence over the last decade.It was an early start for the pair and it set me wondering as to what time the alarm had been set for. To my knowledge most players with an early start on tour set their clocks for three hours prior to their tee time. Towards the end of Tiger’s career when he was succumbing to the inexorable demands he had put on his body for so long it took him five hours from bed to tee. I can’t imagine that the caddying duties would be quite so onerous though and he looked happy to be there, even at that ungodly hour, striding along after his son. I wonder if the roles will be reversed next April at Augusta? I had a number of very good caddies when I was on tour, one of whom was the multi-talented Angie Bell, who used to tow her caravan from her home in Yorkshire to all the tour venues in the UK and on the European continent. From early April to the beginning of November Angie criss-crossed her way across Europe, calling in at the tournament sites a month or so ahead of time to walk the course, measuring it with a wheel (no lasers in those days). She would then produce in excess of a couple of hundred course planners, some in yards, some in metres, for the players and caddies and these would be waiting for us when we arrived at the tournament.
Aside from this, she became the first-ever tour rep to travel on the Ladies’ European Tour, employed by Ping to look after their players. Angie did all the regripping and minor repairs required and carried supplies of extra Ping brollies, gloves, headcovers and the like, attending to the needs of some fifty players a week.She fitted all this around looking after me, getting up at the crack of dawn every day and often working on clubs well into the evenings. As if that weren’t enough, a group of us often went to the caravan for one of Angie’s legendary chillis for supper and the conversation would frequently turn to the topic of where exactly would the impending cut fall.
One player, who often travelled with Angie, was an absolute mastermind at predicting said cut, arguably because she spent most of her career sitting on that very line. She had an uncanny ability to assess the weather, the strength of the field, the state of her game and sundry other imponderables. Once she got her opening tee shot away on Thursday morning her brain was consumed by where the axe would fall. She was rarely wrong.
These memories were triggered for me a few evenings ago when I rustled up a chilli con carne, something I hadn’t cooked in an absolute age. The sister was present for food that night (as she often was for an Angie supper when she was covering our tour) and out of the blue I recalled those long-ago days when we used to enjoy Angie’s chilli. Once again we were aboard the reminiscing train, an increasingly frequent pastime the older we become. (The featured picture at the top of the blog is of The Glacier Express, which runs from Zermatt to St Moritz. It’s on my wish list for the near future.)
Anyway, in the interests of keeping anno Domini at bay and recapturing former tour days, I had another foray up to Delamere this week to hit a few more balls. The real draw, however, was lunch with the lovely Karl Morris, the mental skills guru who has helped so many players unlock and achieve their full potential. I must have known Karl for thirty years or so and we now find ourselves members of the self same golf club.
Despite some of his own health challenges Karl appears to show no signs of slowing down and, though he won’t admit it, he has been a major contributor to Kiwi Ryan Fox’s incredible last two or three seasons. He prefers to remain in the shadows but I know his job satisfaction must be high.
It’s hard to believe it’s twenty years since the two of us did a mini lecture tour alongside the four Harmon brothers, Dick, Bill, Claude and Butch. It was at a time that Tiger had just fired Butch as his coach and his three brothers didn’t half give Butch some stick. They claimed Butch was the only coach to be fired by two world No 1 players, having previously been given a red card by Greg Norman. The conversations over dinner were amazing…….and unabridged, and something I’m sure neither Karl nor I will ever forget.
Oh dear. Choo! Choo! There’s that reminiscing train racing down the tracks again!