It’s not been a good week.

No, I’m afraid I’m not exaggerating.  In fact, it’s a massive understatement – but just how do you describe losing two friends your own age to cancer in under forty-eight hours?

Many of you will have seen Dale Reid’s obituary on the Ladies’ European Tour website and the accolades paid to her when the sad news of her death filtered through from her home in Townsville in Queensland.  One of our favourite blog readers, Gordon from Enniskillen, sent a lovely note about her, but I felt unable to write anything last week.  Unfortunately, I’ve known for five months how unwell Dale was, so from that point of view it wasn’t entirely unexpected news.  My other friend, however, was a shock of seismic proportions and my not mentioning her doesn’t mean anything other than it is all too raw and far, far too soon to think of sharing any stories.

Dale was a good Fifer, hailing from Ladybank Golf Club and she is the reason that course was always on my bucket list of places to play.  Six years ago Gill Stewart, Mary McKenna, Sandra Ross and I (aka the July Club although we always had our annual golf get-together in October!) paid a visit to Ladybank on one of our little Scottish forays.  Indulge me by allowing me to reproduce here a little of what I wrote at the time.

“So, next it was on to Ladybank Golf Club, the original stomping ground of our old pal Dale Reid and the principal reason this course has always been on my bucket list.  Dale, one of Scotland’s finest women golfers, now living in Oz, was a ferocious competitor through her multi-titled amateur and professional days, recording 23 professional wins worldwide and topping the European Order of Merit twice.  She played in four Solheim Cup teams and captained two, most famously in her homeland in 2000 when Europe defeated the USA at Loch Lomond.

Captaining the winning Solheim Cup team of 2000 was a joyous moment for Dale, centre with the trophy. [Janice Moodie’s FB page.]

“An honorary member of the Ladies’ European Tour, she was awarded the OBE in the 2001 New Year’s Honours List.  Although short in stature, Reidy gave the ball an almighty thump and Gill remembers her using an old wooden-headed 2-wood off the tee.  No driver for Dale!  She just loved that 2-wood.  It wasn’t always the same story with her putter, however, which I remember she was frequently changing.  But when she had her eye in – look out!  She was well-nigh unbeatable.”

Dale and her long-term partner Corinne Dibnah were a tour de force wherever they went and it’s hard to write about one without writing about the other.

I was trying to work out how long they have been together and reckon it must be at least thirty years.  I remember playing with Reidy, somewhere in Germany, and Dibs was out quite a few groups ahead of us.  (It was a Thursday or Friday as that’s about the only time I had ever a chance of playing behind either of them!)  Well, Dibs was waiting at the back of our last green on each day to see Dale and I thought, “Hello.  Think there’s something going on here!”  And so it proved to be.
What golf they both played, beating a path to the bank just about every week with wheelbarrow loads of dosh – their winnings.  And their generosity was endless.  Generosity with their money – to others on tour who wouldn’t have been out there without their help – and generosity with their time.  They were both so good to me when my marriage broke up, supplying sympathetic ears and, very importantly, numerous bottles of red wine.  Jeez, they must have been sick of me moaning on, but they never showed it once.  I’ve never forgotten it.  Reidy was glad to know that I learned a little sense and second time around married a Scotsman and we’re together now for more than 20 years!  The last message I received from them both was:  “Say hi to that lovely Scottish husband of yours.”
I’ve no doubt that the golfing world will be reaching out to Corinne, who has lost the love of her life and I hope it will envelop her and support her.  All our lives were enhanced by knowing Dale, an immensely talented, straight-talking character with a wonderfully droll sense of humour.  It’s hard not to think of her and smile.
And that’s exactly what she’d want.