Kissing the captain’s balls

I have been woefully involved in this year’s R&A Autumn Meeting. Not that I am a member of the club of course, but as a caddie I am able to participate in the ‘driving in’ of the new captain when, as he hits his ball off the 1st tee of the Old, local caddies try to catch it and win a gold sovereign.

Trouble is this year I totally forgot and I was sitting in my bed at 8am with my coffee and seeking inspiration of a literary kind when I heard a loud bang go off, as the cannon accompanied the captain’s drive.

Damn, there’s a fat chance of me catching the captains ball sitting in my bed. I was pretty annoyed with myself and thought of Oliver Horowitz, my caddie writing nemesis, who would never have allowed such a slip to happen. He has won it on three occasions. I suppose that’s why his book got on the New York Best Sellers List and I’m a 15 hit a day blogger.

I didn’t play in the annual R&A town match either, in which members of the ancient club take on the town ie members of the New and St Andrews clubs. No, I was too late to get my name down on the list for this amazing sporting encounter, in which 792 competitors took part this year!

This involves a two ball format, lots of shuffling between the three clubhouses for lunch and drinks. A most merry gathering altogether and a bit of a score if you get invited into the R&A clubhouse for your meal and an opportunity for a stab at their famously well discounted wine list, en primeur!

I did, however, caddie in the R&A mixed foursomes at the weekend which is a great fun event held at the Castle. Many hungover gentlemen play with their wives and other women from up and down the country and indeed from across the world, in this keenly contested competition which concludes the R&A autumn fortnight.

I caddied for a lovely lass, Claire from Sunningdale, who accompanied new R&A member James from Ganton, in Yorkshire. He was telling me how he had just become a member and was duly inaugurated at the dinner the previous evening in the tradition of kissing the captain’s balls.

It does strike me that the captain’s balls play a rather significant role in the R&A Autumn meeting, but I must say I’m up for catching rather than kissing. All day actually.

If I can get out of bed that is.

Icebreaker Coach

Coach was on inimitable form yesterday after he was drafted in to help out at The Castle for four Americans who had just arrived in town.

He is surely the most amazing icebreaker in the history of caddiekind and should probably be better employed on a full time basis up in Antartica or taking up some prominent position in the diplomatic service.

His potentially tricky client was in his hands after nine holes and calling him ‘Sir Coach’ on the inward half. For he has a slick and wonderfully witty repartee and could talk the hind legs off the proverbial, while having pretty excellent timing. I mean, to say that Coach has the gift of the blarney is to be understating things terribly. I suppose he is from Glasgow.

One of the Americans quizzed us about our national fondness for mutton along the lines ‘so what is all this about Scotsmen and sheep?’ and Coach immediately turns round and says ‘that’s just the way it is’ with a dead pan demeanour and a solemn, reflective tone. But then adding a few seconds later ‘and they don’t complain’.

He gives the read of a putt like describing a work of art in lyrical and expressive Cambuslang cant, while wonderfully wrong footing his somewhat serious and line questioning client on a couple of occasions with the classic cast off comment, ‘it’s a double break’. There is really not a lot you can say to that on some of our greens. Mind you I think this may have been wearing a bit thin on the third double break occasion when the chap intimated that it could well be his putter that is going to be doing the breaking.

However my favourite all day was over a slightly bendy putt on the 16th when Coach said with the utmost earnestness ‘if you get it up I can’t see it missing’.

Magnificent. A memorable line, as his man left it short again!

ps As I am leaving the Castle and chugging up the hill on my hundred quid, second hand Dawes push bike, who comes past me, grinning ear to ear, in a spanking new Audi Cabriolet. The man himself.

Sorry Coach but you are no longer Coach, you are Cabriolet with a lilting and dancing stress on the ‘et’ In fact, Sir Cabriolet.

Haggis curiosity

That’s the second time in a week that I’ve been asked about haggis and the advisability of eating it. So it’s time to put the record straight and declare the wonderful thing that is our national dish.

Our lovely group from New Jersey yesterday were most intrigued when it was offered for breakfast at the Fairmount. However they all abstained, as did all other customers seemingly, as the dish was left untouched. Now that is a shame.

Haggis has inspired our national poet to rapture and it may well strike you as somewhat odd but it’s the national fodder. Moreover, once a year we put on our kilts and serenade it with the bagpipes, toast it with usqubae, recite well kent tales, march high with it on a platter and then kill it with a dagger.

Coach, Meroe and the trolley’s off

Coach, the most amusing Old Course caddie, was in fine form the other morning in our shack. Referring to the job description of caddie as ‘bag carrier’ he regales in his endearing Glaswegian twang ‘what! bag carriers! Councillors, moral supports, shoulders to cry on, swing analysists, shrinks, mind readers and marriage guidance gurus more like’. Yes, Coach puts the point across fairly well as a man obviously feeling the stress at the close of a pretty hectic season. Nevertheless, he does casually add that he has been invited out by a wealthy client for a two week, all expenses paid trip to a luxurious pad in Bermuda. Only problem is that the client is a bloke.

Meanwhile Meroe, our sole female caddie, and I have been out two consecutive days. I say ‘out’ in meaning caddying together. The funniest thing was to see her line up her client’s putt on the 15th green and watch as her motorized trolley took off behind towards the ocean. On alerting her of this fact from some way off, she turned and covered a good twenty metres in truly Olympian fashion.

Mind you, I managed to over turn the said trolley the next day on the 11th in an attempt to lend a helping hand, while her man lined up a putt. Unfortunately going up the incline the bag fell off, the trolley overturned, and both tumbled down the slope with golf balls flying everywhere from an open pocket, the scene being worsened as I let go of my own trolley to try and retrieve the situation. This elicited a ‘Keith what are you doing?’ from calm Tony, a ‘that was a fine cameo performance’ from taciturn Fraser and a rather bad four letter word from myself.

The Kilted Caddie is getting into socks

No, I don’t mean putting on socks as I’m presently in bed and not in the habit of wearing such attire there. I mean commercially. I am just fed up with the lacklustre and unimaginative designs available in the old sock market. And I for one consider socks important. I am not Albert Einstein.

So I thought I’d do some market research, breezed into Auchterlonie’s the other day and in a corner found their pitiful FJ collection in black and grey and would you believe it, yes white. And a tenner a pair. Sock that.

I did come across one pair last summer in the Tom Morris collection which is rather becoming and attractive (and expensive), in navy and burnt orange stripes and it is my want to wear them on days out to Edinburgh. You could say they are my Edinburgh socks as such and I must admit I do get the odd person clocking them. The burnt orange does rather go with my presently tanned legs. I wasn’t a florist for ten years for nothing you know.

Anyway, I want bright colours and nice combinations thereof. I want cerise pinks, mustards, luminous lime greens and electric blues. I want socks that get noticed and colours that work together.

I see that crowd from Royal and Awesome have begun to take the initiative with their brightly coloured golf trousers. They have a brilliant name and are tapping into a huge market, which John Daly and Loud Mouth have done in the States. Shame about their socks though! As a matter of fact, I was out with a lovely chap Adrian from Toronto yesterday, who had bought a pair of plus twos from Royal and Awesome. Bright orange and white diamond. However he couldn’t get a pair of socks to match them.
This, of course, goes for the kilt sock market too. They are well behind the times and even the trendy and forward looking Howie at 21st Century Kilts in Edinburgh has not cottoned on yet.

So enter the kilted caddie line in sock design. Slanj! Hose!

Anyone got a sock making machine and some spare dye?

Four nutters from Philly

We had four absolute nutters from Philadelphia last week. Michael, Eric the pro, Leon and Donny.

They were remonstrating on the first tee about the fact that our clubhouse would not serve them beers, as it was before 10am. Leon was looking decidedly shaky and very much had the air of a man in need of a drink. His plight was only resolved on the sixth tee when Eric delved into his bag and miraculously produced a miniature of scotch. I have never seen a man look more relieved and a golf game immediately change so much for the better. Mind you, he had been through a torrid time for five holes with a combination of severe alcohol withdrawal, shocking golf, having to listen to his caddie Craig’s chat and Gary’s jokes.

I was out with Mike, who was excellent company and most accepting of my bad day on the greens. He graciously accepted my monumentally poor read on the eighth, which left his twenty five foot birdie attempt a shy seven feet wide of the hole. Mike joked that maybe I should stick to writing and Eric quipped that it was indeed a ‘hugely illiterate read’. On reflection it was not one of my finest moments.

All was well at the half way house though as the guys stocked up on beers and whisky. Mike being easily persuaded to purchase 8 beers instead of the 6 that he had initially proposed. The conversation went something along the lines ‘6 beers please’ and me going ‘come on eight at least’ and Mike replying, ‘ Ok eight please’. Just as well though, as by the sixteenth tee he had run out. He mentioned that one thing he could do was drink and this manifestly, could not be denied.

One thing that Eric the pro could do was play golf though and his excellent game saw him just slipping by to go two under on sixteen, which was mightily impressive. As was Mike’s beautifully carved three wood second shot round the bunker on the par 5 last, which brought me to exclaim ‘Lee Trevino eat your heart out’. Craig, up front, almost laughed as much as when I told him my ‘why does a Frenchman only have one egg for breakfast?’ joke.
‘Un oeuf is un oeuf!’

But this was no time for joking. The guys seemingly had to get straight down to Leven for a 3pm tee time and were planning to pop into The Crown with Craig afterwards! Now that had the potential to be a most unforgettable experience, if not a culturally explosive one. However, I heard today from Craig that this did not in fact materialize after many, many shots at Leven and a bit of golf too.