On meeting the R&A rules man.

I played my first medal of the year yesterday at 7.12am on the Jubilee and got a par at the first. That’s as much as I am going to tell you as the rest of my round was pretty mediocre to outright shocking in places. A bit like a very bad and stormy Radio 4 Shipping Forecast, but lacking the poetry. Rockies, south to south west and heading south.

Anyhow it was a fine morning and lovely to be out on the links with a couple of top guys Kevin and Gary. Kevin was bemoaning the fact that he had qualified to play for the Jock Hutchison match play tournament at the St Andrews Club. Unfortunately he only has a competition links ticket and the upshot of this is that he has to pay the full 180 quid green fee for each match play round over the Old Course! The Links Trust is not at the moment waiving this which I think is shocking and Kevin, who ironically works for the council, is not going to give them the 180 quid per round and has rightly withdrawn. Anyway watch out for my May article in HK Golf for more examples of below par behaviour of the ‘charity’ that is the Links Trust.

I was going into the St Andrews clubhouse after the round and spotted Dave Rickman who is the R&A Rules man, so I thought I’d give him my full thoughts on the Lexi Thomson marking scandal. He was a bit reserved but as much as intimated his deep suspicions about the incident.

I also added my feelings about the size of present day markers being too large and am looking forward to see if he takes that on board and so the kilted caddie will have been instrumental in changing the Rules of Golf. I also intimated that the hole should be bigger but he didn’t appear to look like he was buying into that one.

I had a delightful lunch in the club (Penmans steak pie, chips and beans) and afterwards walked round by the Dunvegan. Now this is always a tad risky because on a fine summer’s day at noon, this is the most sublime spot in the whole of St Andrews. The benches outside the Dunvegan are in the perfect position to catch the sun and one can sit and dream away the hours, speak and wave to passers by, be gay, flirtatious and frivolous, exclaim how life is beautiful and nurture a pint of Guinness or two.

It is a beautiful position and vantage point and is a bit like sitting in the garden of Sinatras Bar in Porto Banus or the deckchairs in the snow at the Grand Ourse restaurant at the foot of the Solaise pistes in Val D’Isere. It is then that the cares of the world melt away and the warm rays of hope lift and elevate the soul. I say ‘lift and elevate’ because this is surely a spiritual transfiguration and should be described as so.

These establishments are some of my favorite places, heaven sent, offer alcohol and a wonderful platform to watch the world go by and dream away the hours, under Alpine, Marbella and Kingdom of Fife blue skies. When I am old I plan to spend much time in these spots sipping Amarone, writing my memoirs and wondering where it all went wrong.

Anyway yesterday I wasn’t going to go there all by myself but low and behold my pal, John Lupton, was already sitting there, after having just finished on the Old. And of course it would have been immensely silly and potentially very rude not to have joined him and while away a couple of delightful hours. And also John is a very good man and the Dunvegan sells very satisfactory and the most sustaining Guinness.

Playing for five, five, and five

One thing I am not is a betting man on the golf course. I have never been nor ever will be. I like to enjoy my golf.

Anyway, I heard two very interesting betting stories yesterday from my new chum Bill.

He had friends who were playing a game at Sunningdale and the chap on the first tee intimated that they should play for ‘five, five and five’. All very well his friend thought and proceeded to win the game. In the clubhouse he was handed a cheque for fifteen thousand quid. He said he couldn’t tell his wife as she would have been mortified.

Bill also knew Tip Anderson, Arnold Palmer’s legendary caddie, as he used to drink in the Links Bar and was honorary captain of the Madras RFC darts team. Seemingly Tip had intimated that Tony Lema would win the forthcoming Open in St Andrews. Bill had never heard of Tony Lema like most people at that time. Anyway, Bill had seemingly then drawn Tony Lema in the office sweep.

Now to add to this bizarre situation Bill was visiting his father in a pub in Gala and there was this old chap, with cleft lip, who sold the local rag in the pub. It was customary to buy the chap a half pint. Anyway on doing so the guy recommended a tip in the big horse race at Ascot that weekend.

So Bill, for some outlandish reason as he was not really a gambler, put on a two quid double on Lema and the Gala pub horse tip (remember this was 1964).

And of course it came in! And he was able to buy a very nice second hand sports car on the back of it.

Of course I am a less fortunate, inspired and successful gambler than that. My Gold Cup and Grand National horses, Bachasson and Blacklion falling at the first.

Now I wonder what the odds would have been on that double and if anyone would have bought into it?


I never got on Radio 4

I was lying in bed on Saturday morning and I got a rather unusual call from a nice sounding chap who said he was from Radio 4, had seen my blog and thought it would make an interesting wee piece for me to talk about the art of caddying and give a tip for The Masters. Realising that this was no April fool as a week had passed since that prankster day I felt rather chuffed.

In fact so chuffed I got pretty dolled up in a bohemian radio 4 way with Tom Morris royal blue and mustard streaked socks, Walker Slater overcoat and Upper Nagoya grey silk scarf worn in a Bloomsbury way (or a la Bloomsbury let us say) and headed determinedly and airily to the BBC Studio in Edinburgh on Sunday morning.

I had a rather enjoyable time talking with the most pleasant guy on the line from London. They said it was just the stuff they were after and I felt it went pretty well. So it was a big downer when I got a call an hour before broadcast to say that unfortunately the tone of my piece did not sit well with the stuff going on in Syria at the moment. And yes I can’t argue with that.

Anyway that was a fun experience and the nearest I’ll ever get to be being heard on The World at One.

On the positives for the week I was successful at my first interview for the Scottish tour guide course, I got two compliments on how well I’m looking, albeit from men and Show on the Road came in at the 2.35 at Exeter.

As a matter of fact, my unbroadcast tip for The Masters was the winner, Patrick Reed. And at the moment I’m just not quite sure how so many radio 4 listeners are ever going to get over this.

Not that I expect many radio 4 listeners avidly follow the kilted caddie blog.