Meeting Nancy Lopez

It was rumoured that the legendary Nancy Lopez was in town and was due up at the Castle. The owner of the Dunvegan was seen trawling the Old Course for her and that is always a strong sign (although I wish she would put as much energy into her kitchen as she does into tracking celebrities).

Anyway, it was confirmed that Nancy Lopez is here as my player yesterday, had a picture taken with her at Kingsbarns the previous day. Today, I had the privilege of meeting her and what a delight it was too. She was very down to earth and friendly, and little wonder that she is a great ambassador to the game and has just been honoured at a Masters ceremony.

She had brought across a group of forty players and four golf pros and was giving daily clinics on different aspect of the game. One of her top pros Therese was in my group and was delightful. It made me laugh as her bag had one of Nancy’s nineteen steps emblazoned on it ‘play happy’. And I think that is marvellous and enriching. Our fourball was made up with the characterful Marge and Ebbe from Chicago and the impressive LGA teaching boss and pro, Nancy Henderson.

They all did ‘play happy’ and had a tremendous game with much fun. Everyone, caddies and all, had a great day. It was interesting that the group of forty were asked to put down in a few words what golf was to them. Now not one of them mentioned ‘scoring’.

Now how refreshing is that?

Jordan Spieth turned away from The Ship


My partner and I headed down the coast to Elie yesterday to go sailing with a chap I met at a bus stop at the west end of Edinburgh. I had my golf clubs and this interesting looking gentleman in a boiler suit asked if I was going up to play in St Andrews. I wasn’t actually, as I was just in the process of carting my gear on my pilgramage to my new flat there. He was on his way to go painting. Anyway we got chatting and turns out he is a retired diplomat called Charles, who has a wee pad in St Monans and a wee boat in Elie harbour. I told him I had a fancy for creel fishing and learning a bit more about seafaring, so he invited me (us) out yesterday.

Now Charles turns out to be a bit of a character to say the least. He has been in staying in a treehouse overnight in Tyningham, with his grandchildren, and is up with his artist niece, Rowena.

We get there at 1pm and after a quick, but unsuccessful bite, in the Ship Inn, (famed for new owners  turning away Jordan Spieth at last year’s  Open on the basis that they were full, ‘as there was a golf tournament going on in St Andrews!’), and a reasonable  pint of Black IPA, we  headed to the harbour where we see some chap shouting and waving eagerly from this rather old fashioned little sailing boat just off the shore. It is Charles and he indicates that he will meet us at the pontoon. I don’t know what a pontoon is, or indeed where it is, but presume it’s somewhere adjacent to the harbour. And I don’t know why but I suddenly feel I’m in a scene of a film that is a cross between Para Handy and Three Men in a Boat.

I had to go and get a lifejacket from Angus at the sailing school and he intimates that if I am in my right mind going out with Charles. Of course its all good jibing fun , but Charles did tell me that he had a wee bit of a cap size on his boat way back from fishing last year.

After a few unsuccessful attempts to get the motor started we set off and get the sails up just outside the harbour. Unfortunately, we weren’t blessed with a stiff wind, came to a standstill and had to resort to the motor again. Only the motor wouldn’t start and we kind of were heading towards rocks, And then from around the corner, out of the blue, came a RNLI boat which was heading straight for us, It was miraculous. We had only been there for about 5minutes and suddenly we were being rescued by the full compliment of the Anstruther based lifeboat crew. Charles looked a tad perplexed and marginally embarrassed,

However, we then got the motor started and were kind of semi escorted round the bay a bit by the said lifeboat. Turns out it was on a training exercise. However, it had caused serious amusement to half of Elie as there were few boats out that day and we were rather the focus of attention.

What a fun day and trip. Priceless actually. Next time I hope Charles will show me how to lay creels, and we get a bit of a breeze and that The Ship Inn will up it’s game.

Musings on Muirfield

Well, Muirfield will not follow the likes of The R&A and Royal St Georges in allowing ladies to join their membership ranks. Although the lasses got the support of 397 of the gentlemen from The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, 219 didn’t like the prospect of the opposite sex on board.

That’s a bit tough on women. The dice are loaded against them already in ‘the rules’ necessitating a two-third majority in the vote. Come on chaps let’s at least have a level playing field. Otherwise they will surely sense a sniff of prejudice.

A leaked letter from the club intimated that a lady member ‘would be bound to feel uncomfortable’. Well, no wonder if there are 219 blokes out gunning at you. Any person would feel uncomfortable at that. Also. I have heard of a boxing match take place between two of the members in the changing room, over the use of a mobile phone, so I suppose there is that kind of physical danger element. Mind you there would be at least be a few doctors kicking around, given the status of the club. Oh, in fact one of the guys was a doctor. He has now gained the esteemed nickname ‘ding a ling’ by all accounts.

The bloke contingent also inferred that ladies might ‘question their lunch arrangements’. Now, that would be serious. Getting in the way of the serious issue of your stomachs. I appreciate that the Muirfield lunch is legendary but why be selfish about that too.

However, as a concession they will entertain the building of a second ‘lady friendly course and clubhouse’.

Well blow me a concession and it’s going to be friendly too!

I am just wondering how many of the gents will be joining that club as I presume that’s integral to the deal.

Or am I just being too cynical here chaps?

Barrie and The Beast

Seemingly, they found a grenade on Kingsbarns Golf Course a few weeks ago. However I believe without injury. This was not the case in a small club called Burnside across the water, near Carnoustie. John Boath the old pro at Braid Hills Golf Club recounted an horrific, but true story, of how he was playing one day and he heard a loud bang, and a man’s head came rolling onto the tee! And no it wasn’t the Battle of the Green Fields! It must have been going back a bit, but there was a field next to one of the holes that was lets say ’out of bounds’ as it was still mine laden. And indeed it was!

I had never heard of the Burnside course till yesterday. Likewise, I had never heard of its near neighbour Barrie till yesterday, either. But Bernie, a USGA golf rules man out with us, was raving about it. He says it’s the most beautiful little gem of a course, with greens enveloped by yellow furze, lovely views, and well worth the thirty quid green fee. So I must give that a try. Maybe after playing The Beast, as Carnoustie is referred to.

Bernie was talking about his caddie old John Collings who has been walking the links across there for forty five years and who is a wee bit of a character by all accounts. We have our own Jimmy Reid who lives in town with a similar heritage, forty two years I think, and he is still in his fifties! So I dare say he will have a good few loops under his belt.

Makes me feel very green indeed.

Tom and Parker

Was out with a father and son duo yesterday, Tom and Parker from Conneticut. Like father like son they weren’t. Father Tom was slightly built and had the driest wit while Parker, well Parker was much larger and hard to make out. He was a hugely imposing character, very courteous, and solicitous. He was the most laid back chap that I have ever come across. I mean his heart rate must have been down about forty. He kind of took everything in his large strides. I reckon if a nuclear bomb had gone off in the Forth he would have kept the same demeanour and remain unfazed, maybe have taken another practice swing.

My fellow caddie Drew and I had an enjoyable round with the guys. On one occasion Parker lost his balance on a drive and kind of shimmied forward a few steps. Drew said ‘that was balletic!’ and the formidable, giant like, Parker acknowledged that his movements had never been described as that before. However, I don’t think Parker has missed out on a career in ballet. He’s going for corporate law and I reckon he’ll go far.

Tom had that New York stand up comic wit. I laughed out loud as he considered his difficult approach shot, from a hundred and fifty yards into the postage stamp fifteenth green.  Drew was obviously a bit unsure about the clubbing as there was a strong swirling wind. He chatted for a good time to Tom about the nuances of the shot; bringing it in with a draw, five to ten yards from the right, keeping it lowish etc. Tom just stood still listening and slightly agape looking. He then turned and said with the most marvellous comic timing, ‘Have you been watching the way I’ve been hitting it all day?!’.

Anyway, I got a good feedback from the guys about the Ardgowan Hotel in town. Supposed to be extremely well run, homely with a resident dog, and do very good food. So I’ll be heading down there soon.

Food for thought

We were out with a lovely bunch of Canadians yesterday. The sun shone and I had some of my favourite caddies alongside. Our group were just off a long haul from Toronto and were surviving on adrenalin and St Andrews Ale. They worked for Golf Town and had all won an incentive driven, action packed few days in St Andrews, courtesy of Callaway.

They had obviously been selling a lot of Callaway gear as they were eating at The Peat Inn first night and then The Seafood Restaurant in town. Now that’s not cheap. I think the tasting menu at The Peat Inn works out about a hundred quid a head. Mind you it’s got a Michelin Star and that deal involves six courses and lovely, matched wines. It really is the place to go for a treat or celebration, but be sure to book in advance.

I think a meal there would be the finale to my perfect day. A game of golf first with some good mates on The Old Course, a trip round the Auld Toon stopping for a pint (or two!) in The Central, and then off to The Peat Inn for a long, lazy, indulgent meal. Fill your wallet though.

Anyway Eddie, my fellow caddie, was on top form as usual. He is an ex-miner who lives down the coast in Leven and is the salt of the earth. He has the loudest, rudest and heartiest laugh in The East Neuk and does any man good to hear it. He is like all the miners I have ever met in being great fun. Must be something to do with the intense comraderie they develop down the pit or something like that. He gave me a good tip for a meal too, The Lomond in Falkland, and I am going to try it. At the moment, I am a fan of The Tavern in Strathkinness and I think it’s by far the best bar food around. Unfortunately, St Andrews doesn’t seem to have got to grips with good bar food yet. It’s all battered haddock, cheap Campbell’s beefburgers, oven chips and the dreaded nachos I’m afraid. What an opportunity for someone.

Now what bus goes to Falkland?

A fun week

Caddied for a couple of really good guys this week. First of all there was Trent who was across from Brisbane on a year’s sabbatical. I thought at first that this was going to be a hard name to remember but then it all fell into place: Australia, cricket, Trent Bridge. Bingo.

He was a bit nervous on the tee as I think it was his first time with a caddie, but we soon got talking about sport and horse racing in particular, and he was in seventh heaven. It was soon all about furlongs, the study of form, necks and noses, sweating up and Black Caviar. The round passed quickly and enjoyably, and I got a tip in the 3.30 at Bong Bong.

And then yesterday, I was walking on to the first tee and a smart bright chap bounded across and declared ‘I am Randy’. My immediate reaction to that is always to think, yes sure you may well be, but perhaps you should keep that one to yourself, or at least address it to your wife. Anyway, I didn’t get Randy’s bag as he was already taken but was matched with Zach. Now, I’ve just watched the film Caddie Shack for the first time and I swear that I’ve got the Bill Murray character here. He is brimming with energy and personality and kind of has the air of a cirrus cloud on the way back from the pub, (if you know what I mean?) .

Zach is immense fun. A zany real estate broker from Utah, he is on a bi-annual tour with what looks to be like a fast talking, fast crack group. However, he is limping badly as he fell over in the shower and has seriously severed his toe. Nevertheless, he is up for a game and a lot of fun by the looks of it. He opens his tobacco tin and stuffs a huge amount into his mouth. Maybe it’s got some anaesthetic quality but I’m afraid he now looks like he’s chewing his golf ball.

The group are huge fun and they have a great game with much jibing and some good golf. These are the Americans I love. Quick witted, quick talking, courteous and enjoying the game for what it is.

Zach and I got on to a shared passion of food. He was bemoaning his culinary experiences in St Andrews and I had to agree and sympathize. We got talking about the rich harvests of lobsters and crabs that never manage to find their way on to the menus of restaurants in town. He said he’d had a good haddock but declared that his split pea soup had been the highlight of the week!  The Russel Hotel had served up a pitifully thin rib-eyed steak and woeful pigeon breasts. I had to tell him that it’s supposed to be one of the better establishments around.

So Zach and I are going to open up a seriously good pad serving thick, tender steaks and fresh crab and lobster. Well once that toe has heeled.