The kilted caddie is unwell

Of course no one is going to believe this but I am incapacitated after playing cricket against a Falkland B team and having a 3 day allay in alcohol. There was a major highlight though in meeting some highly amusing Canadians while drinking Guinness in the Jigger beer garden, at the start of what turned into being an impromptu but major gastronomic tour. It included eating a fine fillet steak in The Old Course Hotel with a nice restaurateur chap, Wolfgang, from Cologne, two lovely plates of scallops in Kazoku the new Japanese restaurant in town, lobster and crayfish in the Seafood restaurant, chips in Ham’s Hame, a very poor Indian meal from Maisha, chilli con carne in The Criterion, fish pie and nachos in Drouthy Neebors and drinks en route in The New Inn, the Rule, The Dunvegan and Playfairs. And all culminating in a spot of tango dancing at a late hour in Aikmans, a couple of days later. Yes, one had to dance that all off.

The result of this is a severely ruptured calf, a pretty hellish hangover and a considerably depleted wallet. I’ll admit that I did win a couple of hundred on the Gee-gee’s but, unfortunately, gave a lot of people I met the heebee jeebees.

But what fun new pals from Toronto. They were on great form and celebrating after playing The Old Course.  One was a retired fireman who told me his ‘Calgary story’, which makes my past few days seem slightly uninteresting. They got a call from A&E one morning to ask if they could attend rather promptly with their tool box. Now this seemed a bit odd. So they stroll into A&E with their large tool box and a weeping woman is standing outside a pulled cubicle curtain. Inside her son is facing a serious problem because he has put a celtic ring around his private part, which has caused much swelling and I would surmise much pain. They try with many tools but cannot remove this rather awkwardly positioned celtic ring which is thick and made of iron. But our golfing fireman proved he was up to the job in the end. He strategically stood on a table above the patient for maximum leverage and applied heavy duty three foot long iron rail cutters, as his colleague prised open a critical gap with some sort of wedge.

Job done.

ps I won’t be playing cricket for a long, long time. That is one dangerous occupation too.


Playing for Purple Socks

Toni and I were out with two larger than life Texans yesterday. I caddied for Will, an orthopedic surgeon from Austin and Toni had Rich, an Oil and Gas man now living in Northern California.

They had a fun game which was lubricated with ‘medicine’ as Will called it. I think it was 20 year old Bunnahabhain medicine. Anyway, they decided to have a match on the back nine for a pair of purple socks which Rich had taken a fancy to. As one does. Now, both being highly competitive, they had a terrific match and it was neck and neck. Until the last.

Rich hammered a drive down the middle of eighteen and taunted Will with ‘follow that!’. Unfortunately Will did not. He topped a drive about a cricket pitch length into some nasty rough, topped a wedge ten feet, repeated this shot and then hit a reasonable ‘recovery club’ but onto a steep bank alongside Rich’s drive. There was not a lot I could say to Will at this point and I think I murmured ‘it’s not over yet’. To which I got zero response. Let’s face it he’d played four and was lying none too prettily. In fact he is only able to move it forward twenty yards off the bank. Five shots. We then have no option but to hit for safety with an 8 iron. Yes we hit a safety shot! This is so out of character for me. But we did. Six shots.

In reply Rich hits a good fairway wood second but gets an awkward lie on the edge of the bunker in the middle of the 18th fairway. Toni is walking up and says ‘it’s ok we can get a stance’ to which I reply ‘can you?’ and get a slightly uneasy look from Rich. They are nevertheless both 120 yards from the green and Rich has four shots in the bank.  Will then hits a poorish 9 iron about twenty yards short of the green and leaving a treacherous seventy foot putt. He has hit seven and now looks like a man who has lost his purple socks. In fact most defeated.

But then an amazing scenario follows which makes Jean Van De Velde look like complete chicken feed. Rich’s third, where his feet are well below the ball, flies straight into a bunker 50 yards in front of the green. He then attempts a heroic shot which flies over the green and onto a bank leaving a most cute and difficult chip . He hits it and it comes back to him . He then, with massive concentration now, hits a very similar shot which  just reaches the green, but stops this time. He quickly (and I would say with more than a marginal degree of desperation) runs up the slope, but the wind is blowing and just before he gets his marker down it starts to move and rolls back. He then, looking most unsettled now, hits it to five feet. That’s seven shots.

Will hits a super putt up to four feet from off the green and knocks it in for a ‘good’ nine. He then asks, the rather bemused and fraught Rich, how many he has played. And the reality is that Rich now has a tricky five footer to win the game.

And I think the moral of the story is don’t play for purple socks.

A miraculous half. But what a fun game.

Meeting Paul Lawrie

UPS had a big corporate day up at The Castle last week and they had Paul Lawrie playing out a few holes with the lucky invitees. He turned out to be a lovely chap and had a great way with all the players in the groups, offering encouragement and having more than a few laughs.

My man Mark said he had been sitting next to him at dinner the previous evening in The Old Course Hotel and Paul had recounted his Open win at Carnoustie and the amusing aftermath. He had driven down with his brother in law that day and probably not expecting to be carrying off the Claret Jug hadn’t booked any local place for the night. So they obviously hung around a bit after the speeches and then piled into their car to head up the road to Aberdeen. However a couple of weakish bladders necessitated the parking in a layby at some obscure point in the Grampian region. Out of nowhere a police vehicle pulled up and out popped two serious and imposing looking officers. And then realization struck and they said ‘it’s you!’. And there were soon two very happy members of the local constabulary getting selfies with Paul and his recently acquired Claret Jug.

Not a bad day on the beat.

From Saint Louis to Dundee

Derek, John and I have just had a three day caddying job for a lovely family group from Saint Louis.

We finished off on The Old last night in the evening sun and had a beer sitting outside at Ham’s Hame. What an epic way to finish their sojourn here. The guys had already spent a few days on the west coast of Ireland to indulge in local customs which took in sea walks, local hostelries and an appreciation of the cultural significance of Guinness and Jamiesons. In their three days here they have managed four rounds, visited Edinburgh Castle and got to know three pretty low-life caddies.

Mark, the most lovely father, presented all caddies with a miniature of malt and looked a most contented chap as he sat back with his 18 year old Glenlivet, surveying the most iconic view in golf and surrounded by his family. He told how they’d been to Edinburgh the day before to go to dinner at The Tower and visit the Bow Bar on Victoria Street in the heart of the old town, which is my favorite bar. Unfortunately on their way back, three of the young lads managed to miss the stop at Leuchars and so made a brief visit to Dundee. And I suppose this could have been a lot worse as that train could have been bound for Glasgow.

They asked us to sign the souvenir flags they’d bought which I found a bit amusing as it was the second time I’d been asked for a signature that afternoon. One affable and smiling American gent had approached me in front of the R&A with a hard back edition of Oliver Horovitz’s ‘An American Caddie in St Andrews’ and asked if I was in the book. I said ‘no but he’s in mine’ which seemed to elicit a positive enough response to requisition a kilted caddie signature.

Four Singapore Ladies

Just got a message from Australia to say that there are four ladies from Singapore who are wanting to meet the kilted caddie and are out playing on the New today. I shall have to skirt up and sneak past the R&A lest I get spotted and potted at by any still aggrieved member. For I am most conscious now of not ruffling any further members’ feathers.

But it is very difficult to remain inconspicuous in my Walker Slater waistcoat and tartan tie, pink lady starched apple blossom shirt with airy cuffs, Joey D kilt and scarlet socks. So I jumped on my bike and made haste, parked at the Jigger, negotiated a pint of Guinness and scaled the wall onto the seventeenth of The Old.

Anyway the group who I meet on the sixteenth green of The New, on this beautiful May day, are all smiles and clad in wonderful cerise pink tops and matching tartan plus two’s from Slanj in Glasgow. They have sartorially knocked me for six.

There are three very characterful and game ladies from Singapore and Fiona Glover who now lives there. Fiona’s late dad John was the head rules man in the R&A and once gave me a tour when I was a student here. I remember him as the most lovely Irish gentleman and very able golfer. He played for Ireland for thirty years.