What have they done to the Old Course?

Well, they’ve put what resembles a piece of the M1 through the middle.

Ok slight exaggeration but they have put tarmac on the main track which leads out to the loop! But why oh why? The Old Course is a beautiful historic links and a place of great natural beauty. It’s very old (the key is indeed in the name) and shouldn’t be tampered with like this.

But the Links Trust has decided to tarmac it. Mind you, they are the crew who changed the name of the Old Tom Morris Shop and called it ‘The Open’. And that sure doesn’t have the same historical ring or give rise to any real stirring in the guts of a true afficiando of the ancient game.

So got that off my chest. But poor, poor show by some of the unimaginative bods sitting on the Links Trust.

What a Masters by the way? Ok, my lay on Tiger didn’t turn out triumphantly, but at least I got Molinari in the top six and successfully laid Mickelson for a top ten place.

But what a shame for the stalwart Italian. He was going swimmingly until he hit the water. (Sorry!)

However, It was indeed prescient when he said in his interview on the night before the final round that ‘this is golf, anything can happen’ Unfortunately it did.

Anyway, hearty congratulations to Tiger. But I’ll be betting Molinari next year.

I see McLeish has been sacked by the SFA. Seemingly on the back of his poor record while in charge. 12 games, 5 wins and 7 defeats. But hey wait a minute, what’s wrong with that? this is Scottish football we are talking about and I don’t recall us ever being at the forefront of the world stage. 5 wins out of 12 is not that shabby. I guess the 3-0 drubbing by Kazakhstan didn’t help. But let’s face it, anyone can have a bad day. I mean, I shot a ton in the second round of the Jock Hutchison, but this doesn’t mean that I’m not a world class player. So give the guy a wee chance. Poor soul. And remember that he wasn’t even on the pitch. The eleven players should take some of the flak.

So here is my political forecast for what it’s worth. Moggy and crew team up with Farage and win a snap general election to give ‘No Deal’ a welcome push and end the Brexit fiasco. Done and finally dusted. Decisively onwards.

On the American front, Trump finally runs out of luck, the market crashes and he joins Manafort and that hideous, botoxed Stone character in the clink.

The bistrot in Edinburgh has stalled as we are awaiting the builder to finish the new shop front. Looking to the end of May now. Michael is presently in Catania and has unearthed some mega Etna wines by all accounts. I mean they sound pretty volcanic. It’s hard to please the palate of Mr Gardner.

I hit my finest drive of the week on the 17th of the Old on Friday, taking the line between the ‘L’ in the Hotel sign and the actual Hotel and landing it twenty yards from the Jigger wall. This is very fine positioning for the Jigger Challenge which would have involved jumping the wall, ordering and consuming a pint of Guinness before the guys had cleared the green. Unfortunately I didn’t and then paid the price by hitting the most massive shank which headed towards the University Management Building.

Marvellous as Cologne Tom would say.

Yes that would have been the perfect riposte to that shot, should I have had a caddie.

I did actually here Cologne Tom say that to an American chap when out caddying with him on the Castle, after his guy topped the ball. My player turned to me in an aside and said with some slight concern and a not insignificant intonation of disbelief ‘Bert topped it and Tom said ”marvellous” ‘.

I still laugh at that now.

Cologne Tom is the most wonderfully entertaining individual. One of our truest characters.

Why on earth our caddie master didn’t put him out with Obama I will never understand.

But hey ho, he seems to have an issue with colourful caddies and works for the Links Trust as well I suppose.
















remembering Henry Longhurst

As a kid I was besotted with the writings of Henry Longhurst, as then columnist of Golf Illustrated. He was poetic, kind hearted, funny and wrote quite beautifully.

Henry and I share a couple of things in common. We both have Desmond’s in Economics, his Cambridge and mine St Andrews, and we both played on our respective University golf teams.

The only difference is that Henry was a good golfer, playing off scratch for twenty years and winning the German Amateur of all things.

But he also encapsulated something that was very upstanding and very British. Something rather rare nowadays. He was your Sunday afternoon village green cricketer, supping beer in the folds of smiling chestnut trees and laughter and deck-chaired bonhomie. A gentleman.

He was Grantchester and Wootton and Slad all rolled into one. Rupert Brooke and Auden and Laurie Lee I suppose. Except, all sunk into the deep pasture of a beer embraced village green. England there England and all that.

God get me a train!

Anyway enough of nostalgia. Life has been busy here in the Home of Golf. We are well into the season already, the tourists are piling in, the competitions are stacking up, the students are back and I’m an ageing old hack.

The horses have been running like donkeys I’m afraid. Apart from Kemboy who made up for falling at the first in the Gold Cup with an emphatic win in his next time out at Fairyhouse. We are on him at ten to one for next year’s Gold Cup already.

I’m going for Rose and McIlroy in the Masters and will lay Tiger for the cut.

But what about Watford versus Wolverhampton in the semi-finals of the FA Cup? That was the come back of all come-backs. Two ahead with eleven minutes left, the Wolves manager told his players to take the foot off the gas. They did, conceded two goals and then lost in extra time. Ouch.

Managers are my bugbear, of course. For goodness sake, let the guys play football. It’s got far too analytical in my mind. It’s all got a bit ridiculous. I mean when you get a substitution nowadays you have some really official looking guy pointing out stuff on an iPad to the oncoming player. I mean what on earth is that all about? Is he just going through rudimentaries like showing the player where the goalposts are located and reminding him that the idea is to get the ball into the other teams net? That’s what it looks like. And it sure looks like the oncoming player is not listening.

Ok now to politics…..

That’s enough of politics.

Leftbank is motoring ahead and we should have the new shopfront in this week. The furniture is on the way, as is the first barrel of Dark Star, by all accounts. That will surely have to be tasted. Quality control is immensely important.

My swing tip for the week is balance. I’m very much rolling along with this one and took it down to the new practice area yesterday. It;s working well.

I like it because it fits my new life philosophy and is what underpinned Sam Sneads lovely, elegant swing. It indeed also has resonance with Dai Rees’s eloquence.

And you may well be wondering how I know?

Because dear Henry Longhurst told me so.




Catch the bloody thing

Of course I’m talking about professional goalkeepers, who seem rather incapable of doing the most obvious thing when a ball comes towards them.

This was highlighted last night when Tottenham’s Lloris decided to parry a ball that was surely made to catch. as it was going pretty much into his chest. But he weakly tried to parry and it unfortunately then hit the foot of his defender and went over. So they lost a vital and hard fought match in the last seconds.

I suppose given I’m a rugger player my instinct is to catch a ball coming towards me, but I’m sure that most blokes at Anfield yesterday knew that football was for catching. The other option was far too dangerous. And I’m sorry but if you can’t attempt to catch that then hand me your gloves.

It would be ok if it was a Sunday afternoon kick around, but that bloke’s getting paid millions to do that.

So I’ve got that off my chest.

Now the Brexit thing is stuffed. I hope there is no revocation mind, as that would have very serious ramifications. The core of this is democracy, the peoples democracy. Stuff your perfuntory Peoples Vote.

My golf is erratic as ever. In the Charles Grieve Cup on Saturday, I was sitting pretty at four over on the fifteenth tee of the New, only to finish with a glorious 84! And there were no seagulls involved. It transpired that a couple of bogey’s and par’s in the last four holes would have secured me the trophy, everlasting immortality in the annals of history in the St Andrews Golf Club and continued my sequence of knocking off one trophy per year (I say ‘sequence’ in that it would have followed my victory with Alex Paton in the Ayton thing last year)

Trump now looks in a stronger position for 2020. God help us.

Leftbank should be open in six weeks. So Murrayfield will soon have a decent eaterie and a cool place to hang out. It’s going to be as successful as Montpeliers I hope, but without the nasty backstabbing of the partners.

The difference is that I have real friends and decent human beings with me in this.

My brother unfortunately didn’t.

Yes, it’s not all about money and that is going to be our mantra. We would much rather people got a very good glass of wine than that the margins are maximised at every turn. That would be far more satisfying.

My tips now for the rest of the year are Ms Pafois in the National, Man City, Oxford (boat race), Japan (rugby world cup and Olympic ski long jump), Shug in the MCBA champ, that chinese chap in the snooker, Dominic Raab for PM and Scotland to win the cricket. (that’s any cricket)

Roll up at boost odds of 420 to 1. £500 min bet.