A remarkable story and true

I often sail down the road to Edinburgh to catch up with the merry butchers at Wm Christie in Bruntsfield. Not only do I get golf tips from Angus and hear his new jokes, but I tap into the Edinburgh grapevine and give them the gossip from across the water. A vital exchange.

Now Angus is the real golfer but Bob was a caddie on the European Tour, when aged fourteen he chucked his academic studies at James Gillespie High School (I say ‘academic studies’ in the broadest and loosest sense possible) and headed for the school of life, carrying the bag of his infamous uncle, David Robertson from Dunbar, who later became renowned for getting banned from the tour for cheating.

Nevertheless, the guy could hit a golf ball and made some success in his short lived professional life. However, Bob told me the other day that he actually threw away two tournaments which he was winning, the Northern Open and the Coca Cola at North Berwick. And all because he was terrified of making the winners speech! He seemingly got to the sixteenth ahead in the last round in both and said to Bob ‘I’m going to throw it. I just can’t do the speech’ Bob remonstrated with him and said ‘just say thank you’. But he couldn’t get over that fear.

Kind of stage fright in the extreme. But rather defeating the purpose of playing professional golf what?

On a more positive note I’ve been accepted back into Mortonhall as a country member which I’m delighted about. I started playing golf there aged ten and have so many fond memories of the place. On a recent visit it was great to see my Dad’s pals still going strong. What a happy place it is for me. And indeed what a great and beautiful golf course it is too, settled next to the Braid Hills, afire with yellow furze all summer long.

Siegfried Sasoon used to escape there while convalescing during the war and there is indeed a hole, the fourth called ‘Poet’s Walk’. It is all a bit of a dream of a course to be honest, and I’m very glad to be back to it.

The Dunghill

The Dunhill is over again. The valiant attempt to bring pros and amateurs together playing in a top level tournament. But does this format work? In theory yes, but in practice I would say a resounding no.

I didn’t go down to watch this year apart from a mere five minutes when I stopped by the 18th to see if the pros were driving the last green with the strong backwind. And indeed they were, which is fairly impressive. However that was all that was impressive about the two pros, Haydn Porteous and Jacques Kruyswijk. For as I watched them stride onto the left of the 18th green I noticed that one of the pro’s amateur partner was trying to hit his second shot from just before the road. But the two pros were just not in the least bit interested. They weren’t looking. And that is shocking, no matter what stakes these guys are playing for.

However, I was not in the least bit surprised by what I saw, as I’d had my own first hand experience of this sort of behaviour as I’d caddied for David Walsh a few years ago, when he was paired with the up and coming Matt Wallace. What an eye opener that was. Mr Wallace swore under his breath at the other amateur on the fifth green of the Old after he thought he’d spoken too loudly while he was playing a shot. I say swore under his breath, he actually cursed the wee chap fairly loud and clear. Mr Wallace was also pretty ignorant in his behaviour towards his caddie at one point and indeed, when David missed a very short putt, I think in the third round at Kingsbarns on about the 12th after Matt had dropped five shots in three holes and fell off the leaderboard, he openly sighed and walked off the green making his view very clear about David’s short miss. Yuk! Friendly enjoyable golf? No.

But I suppose it’s a tough old world out there and to be honest I’m rather glad I’m not too heavily involved with it at that level. I actually heard that a caddie I know declined to take part this year as he found the whole thing too stressful. I get that. I would actually cringe at the thought of having to play in it as an amateur. No thanks.

My article on the Dunhill that year, in which I wrote about my experience with David was published by Hong Kong Golf Monthly. I was actually quite pleased with it in all honesty. I sent it to David as well as I would have loved to get some feedback from The Sunday Times Chief Sportswriter, the four-time Irish Sportswriter of the Year and the three-time UK Sportswriter of the Year.

However he didn’t respond.

Which is a shame because like that Dunhill amateur last week doing his best to pitch it alongside the major guns in the game, it would have been nice to have had my shot acknowledged too.