Many thanks to everybody for reading and encouraging me to continue exercising my brain cell every Thursday. I’m attempting to modify the habits of a lifetime and get the blog finished before 0400-ish on a Friday morning but that’s a monumental undertaking for the easily distracted and the organisationally impaired. And it’s blooming freezing at this time of the year with the heating turned off during the day.
It’s all very well being told “to heat the human, not the house” but I feel a bit of a prat sitting at the keyboard wrapped up in my fisherman’s jersey and warmest gilet, with my best cashmere Travelwrap (a bit grubby now because it’s a regular at Tottenham games but I’m scared to wash it) over my knees. In fact, no sooner had I got tucked in and settled than I felt the need to go in search of my woolly hat and fingerless gloves – any excuse to delay writing a word.
They’re not exactly new resolutions but I’m still intent on reducing my amount of stuff and spending more time on the golf course. I hesitate to say “play more golf” because at the moment my good walk is punctuated with a series of physical jerks that could scarcely be described as swings or shots; contortions and clouts, more like, as my foursomes partner this week would be (un)happy to confirm.
Our winter comps are over 13 holes and we were just about in credit on Tuesday, with six blobs and seven scoring holes for a not-so-grand total of 15 points. We were far from last but the runaway winners had an otherworldly 31 points. I don’t care what level you’re playing at, that is good going in foursomes. Well played Jenny L and Sue J.
Lots of people don’t like foursomes because it’s an unforgiving format and it’s hard to score well if one or other of you is off your game – and heaven help you if you’re both misfiring. It can test patience and stretch friendships (and relationships) to the limit. I’ve always loved it because it suits my lazy nature and if you hit a poor shot, it’s up to your partner to sort it out. The only rule, really: Just get on with it. No sorries. (Every sorry equals a gin and tonic.) No tuts. (Don’t even go there!) And, in my case, do not play with your spouse. NEVER EVEN CONTEMPLATE IT. DO NOT BE TEMPTED. I could partner Dai in a fourball but foursomes? NEVER.
Apart from the fact that he was likely to visit boondocks that I never even knew existed, the main problem was that our approach to the game was very different. I’d evolved from being a bad-tempered little sod, a stormy petrel who threw clubs, into something a little more laidback and less obnoxious, capable of treating the two impostors just the same – more or less. Dai? Not so much.
Mark Garrod, who runs the AGW’s PYP (Association of Golf Writers’ Pick Your Pro), our annual competition in futility, was the Press Association’s golf man for many years and played quite a bit of golf with Dai, one way and another. He recalled a time they were playing in Phuket, in Thailand and Dai’s first five shots all finished in a lake. Ever droll and understated, Mark said, “He took it well, of course,”……
Mind you, Dai and I shared an aversion to water on a golf course, perhaps because our balls were invariably attracted to the watery depths, never to be retrieved. One of the reasons I love Whittington is that there’s no H2O to speak of: not a lake, not a river, not a sneaky little burn meandering its way across the fairways to trap the unwary and the unskilled. Saying that, I was at WHGC on Wednesday afternoon and put five balls in the water.
How so? I was up having an indoor lesson with Rachel Bailey, one of our pros, who’s trying to encourage us to do a little work on our games during the winter, ready to blossom in the spring. There were a couple of us there, having our games exposed by the numbers on the screen as we hit into it. We decided that doing a bit of pitching and chipping would be less depressing than seeing how glacial our swing “speed” was. Then, encouraged, we headed off to play Nailcote Hall, a par three course of considerable complexity.
Well, it was too complex for me anyway. Ball after ball tailed off into the water and there was that sinking, sinking feeling that I’d never get round, doomed to spend the rest of my golfing life in the dropping zone. Even so, Nailcote has a special place in my heart because I once spent a wonderful day there, at their Par 3 Championship, chatting to Max Faulkner, Open champion at Portrush in 1951 and Bert Gadd, from a long line of golfing brothers. I didn’t say much because they regaled me – and the rest of their audience – with enough stories and anecdotes to fill a library of books. They were both well in to their 80s but sprightly wasn’t the word for them. It was a magical day.