I was up at the golf club on Tuesday morning having a coffee after wimping out on the golf – 40 mile per hour gusts and fingertip-freezing temperatures, nuff said. There were people who played but my partners and I are older and wiser than most….Well, more experienced certainly, so we did the clubs a favour, kept them under wraps and fell into chat inside.
“Any ideas for Maureen for this week’s blog?”
“It’s got to be a tip. We need all the help we can get. Can she tell us how to hit the ball….?” And so on.
So, a tip it was from Mo and being a kind, generous sister, she did one for me, a serial fire-and-fall backer, for ever on the back foot. Gulf in class or not, JoAnne Carner had – may still have – the same tendency but she still delivered enough speed and power to hit it miles. Apologies, but this is my blog and if I want to mention me and one of golf’s greats in the same sentence, well we all know, recent hole-in-one notwithstanding, what a load of self-indulgent baloney that is!
As you can see, this swing is not all ease and grace, there’s no beautiful balance and I can only apologise to all those lovely teachers I’ve had over the years who’ve done their best to sort me out. And to those of you who are thinking: “Why on earth is she still trying to play a game to which she is obviously unsuited?” the only answer is: “Take a closer look at the picture.”
Any time you’re playing with family and friends in beautiful surroundings on a lovely day is special and if the technique doesn’t quite match up, well, that’s secondary. Mo and I think this picture was taken at Rosses Point, which has a special place in our hearts and she keeps this photo in the kitchen, in the recipe book holder. I asked her why on earth she’d kept it and she said, “Because it makes me smile.”
There’s a lot of talk about loneliness in this super-social-media-connected day and age, with people plugged into their phones and other assorted devices and forgetting to talk to each other. Not at WHGC. We do a lot of talking and laughing and sometimes we even listen to each other. Golf clubs may get a bad rap in some quarters but the best ones are very social places.
I started thinking a bit more about listening after reading a piece in The Observer magazine, written by Kate Murphy, whose book is called “You’re Not Listening”. She says: “Listening is not about simply holding your peace while someone else holds forth. Quite the opposite. A lot of listening has to do with how you respond – the degree to which you elicit clear expression of another’s thoughts and, in the process, crystallise your own. It starts with an openness and willingness to truly follow another person’s story without presumption or getting sidetracked by what’s going on in your own head. This can be a problem for people whose galloping thoughts may race ahead of the speaker’s words, often in the wrong direction……..”
Conversations can be wide-ranging and thought processes are intriguing. I moved from a frozen shoulder (the possibility of someone else’s) to driving Mum’s Renault 4 – we swapped cars because she had a frozen shoulder and couldn’t use the gear stick, which was up near the dashboard; to hurtling it round a corner as Dad and I rushed to Aldergrove airport en route to Nairn to watch Maureen in the final of the British Women’s Amateur….That led to mention of the travel agent who’d sorted out our tickets at the last minute and probably called in some favours to make sure that we made the flight to Glasgow. His name was Storrie Pollock and my friends fell about laughing when they heard that, to my total mystification.
Turns out they’d misheard and thought his surname began with ‘B’ and (probably) ended in ‘s’. After that was cleared up they queried his first name and I realised I’d no clue where that came from, never having wondered about it at all.
That got me wondering – and sidetracked again. Before they were married Dad used to ring Mum at her office and say, “I wonder if I could speak to Peggy please.” Whoever answered the phone would hand it over to Mum, saying, “It’s the genius and he’s wondering….” Dad was doing well in his accountancy exams, so Mum’s colleagues were extracting the Michael, taking the mickey – or the p or whatever.
Paul Kimmage, a journalist who’s always wondering, has had a long chat with Rory McIlroy, currently the world No 1 and the result is a three-part series in the (Irish) Independent. Rory is as candid as Kimmage, so it’s well worth reading. At one point, having been talking about films, Kimmage says, “Your mind is interesting.”
Rory is not unique, he’s not the only golfer who thinks but he’s unusual because he’s not afraid to say what he thinks; or to admit that he’s reading things that might make him change what he thinks. He’s a refreshingly ordinary superstar, if that’s possible. And he probably listens.
Oh, and Storrie, it turns out, was short for Stormont.