A very hard school

What a very hard school is the qualification to get on the European Tour. First of all there is a four round preliminary stage with about 700 entrants who are whittled down to about 300. Thereafter they all play so that a field of about eighty can get through to a final, 6 round qualifying stage in Portugal. Twenty five and those tied get a full tour card. This will cost you one and a half thousand quid to enter.

I shall not be getting my cheque book out. Notwithstanding that I’m not playing off scratch and not willing to forgo my amateur status for the chance.

So I watched the final scores come in yesterday and it was looking like 13 under was going to make it. I noticed that the genial Frenchman, Julien Quesne who I had met at the Dunhill, was 14 under with six holes to play. ‘Was’ is very much the operative word here as poor Julien went bogey, bogey, double bogey! This coincided with me following him on twitter and I dearly hope there was no causal link at play?! As I’m the kiss of death to most people. But poor Julien. All that hard work and excellent golf undone over a few holes. What a cruel game.

My old school pal, David Thomson. qualified years back and hit the road. Unfortunately he hardly made a cut, lost about seventy grand and his wife divorced him into the bargain. Luckily though for him, he bagged one of the best club jobs in the world at Skibo Castle and is still there now by all accounts, teaching the likes of Catherine Zeta-Jones and altogether lording it up. Mind you he did have the gift of the blarney.

I will add that Dave did have a very nice word to say about Sam Torrance though. He was on the practice area at his first ever tour event and feeling a bit green, when the seasoned Sam came up to him and welcomed him to the tour. That was lovely. Well done Sam.

My default Caddie Tournament win

We had our annual Caddie Tournament at the Castle on Friday, played on a fine and clear day. Lovely John Cunningham had a hole in one. I managed to score 34 points and take the first prize money, albeit young Johnny came in with 37 points, but hadn’t brought cash along for the sweepstake entry fee.

So I’m feeling a bit like Justin Rose in having had back-to-back tournament wins, as he has just scooped the Turkish Open after landing the WGC-HSBC Champions the previous week. Except Justin is £1.4 million to the better, while I’m thirty seven pounds and fifty five pence. But money is not everything.

Now, that’s it for caddying this season and there have been many fond farewells as we go our separate ways over the winter. I shall be continuing to blog nevertheless.

We had a wee meal and drink after the caddies match and a huge night. Reputedly, Mr Craig Robertson walked the twenty miles back to Leven in the early hours of Saturday morning. But this has yet to be verified by a sober Mr Robertson. If so it’s a superb feat. Walking half the way to Edinburgh on the back of a round at the Castle, a Hunter’s chicken and chips from the Rule and eighteen pints of lager is not to be sniffed at. In fact it is almost heroic.

I had a couple of rounds during the week and met lovely Richard and Paula from Ontario. Sometimes, I try a long shot ice breaker on first meeting people and ventured the name of the only Canadian with whom I am acquainted, ‘do you know Jim Kinnaird?’ to which Paula, gobsmacked, replied ‘oh yes Jim!’ Now, that’s quite something. Turns out Richard is in finance and knows Jim through a conference he holds in Bermuda!

Small world.

This kind of line doesn’t seem to work so well with Asians, I have found though. Asking a chap from Tokyo if he knows Hesa Hirose is usually met with a look of utter disbelief and an immediate supposition of insanity. May I say that this is sometimes a hard situation to retrieve in four and a half hours on a golf course.

However, I did have a similar situation in a bar, one late night in Edinburgh years ago, when talking to some chap from Chicago. I was waxing lyrical about an old flame, the belle of Kirkcaldy, Dorothy Whitelaw. Yes there are belles of Kirkcaldy! Anyway, it turned out that this American bloke had met her in a bar in Chicago when she was on her world tour!

Very small world.

Yesterday was the last round of the season for good. I caddied for Johnny Nolan, a big fun guy from Oregon who is a successful, self made restaurateur and pretty good golfer. So we had little in common, aside from girth.

Of course I should have tried the line ‘do you know Jim Kinnaird?’, but I just couldn’t chance on a connection between Calgary and Oregon. Different countries you see. However, it turned out they were staying in Jim’s house which overlooks the 18th green of the Old!

Now I should have asked if he knew Dorothy.