On encountering some gruff locals

I was out practicing the other morning on the Strathyrum and was having some major problems with a hook. Now the Strath runs parallel to the Eden Course for a few holes on the way in. On the 14th of the Strath I hit two monstrous hooks which ended up on the 16th fairway of the Eden, a par 5, amidst a group of four gentlemen’s drives who all looked a bit less than inviting, let’s say. So I thought I’d try a bit of humour to help along the situation by quirping ‘Which course are you guys playing?’ Unfortunately this was not taken that well by at least three members of the group who maintained rather stern looking faces. I think the other chap muttered something along the lines ‘not the one you’re playing’.

Anyhow, I made haste back to the Strath and onto the 15th tee, a short par 4. This time I again hit two monstrous hooks which now ended up on the 16th green of the Eden and again amongst the balls of the same four gentlemen who were now trying to play-out that hole, except one of my balls was about 6 feet from their flag. I ventured across and thought I’d try some humour again to help me out the predicament. In a sense this was really all quite amusing I reasoned. It’s not exactly that I was aiming their way.

Anyway, I sauntered onto their green, waited till a few of them putted out, got a few glares and then quickly picked up my errant balls while venturing the long shot ‘I’m sure you guys are on the wrong course’

No laughter ensued.

I did have a lovely round the following day though when I bumped into Gerard from Florida at the New Course. He is across for a week and playing 7 rounds, including a trip down to North Berwick. What a delightful man. We had a great chat and game and it showed me again what goff can offer in the beaten way of aquaintance.

Not what these guys on the Eden were reflecting when they stumbled across moi though! I imagine they would be uttering less poetical musings.

But heho it takes all sorts. And I’ll stick with the Gerard’s of this world. All day!

On Saturday I went down to Edinburgh to play in the Mortonhall monthly medal. I left St Andrews at 8.25am and got home at 6.49pm (the wonders of Stagecoach!), having played the medal and then walked back into the West End from my old patch at the Braids! (I haven’t got my blue card yet and it was a beautiful evening and I was feeling a tad nostalgic).

On the 11th green at Morty I noticed that someone on the 8th tee was looking across at me with some recognition. He had a tammy on and I didn’t know who it was. I ventured across after putting out and hey, it was Cammy my old caddie-master at the Fairmont who now lives in Edinburgh and has joined Morty! He was playing with Bob Ellis who gave me a big hug which was kind of endearing of him. I suppose it has been 7 years since I left. Small world though with Cammy. In fact it’s a small world all round. The chap I was playing with, James Kidd, is starting a new job on Monday morning in Melville Street. And his boss is none other than Dave’s son, Jack Ferguson.

A small world indeed!

Charity at The Links Trust and more

I just paid my yearly residents ticket for my goff in St Andrews and am reeling a bit and picking myself off the floor somewhat. It’s gone up by 41.666666… per cent. In fact let me take the liberty of rounding that up, 41.67 per cent. That’s a lot.

The girl behind the counter at the Links Trust office tried to give me the tenuous explanation that it was because of covid. I hope she has not been told to say that as the party-line by the way. Because that’s about as convincing as hearing Boris say that he didn’t appreciate that he was at a party. It’s utter nonsense.

As far as I heard, the Links Trust got furlough money. And quite a lot of it I expect. Outwith salaries the Links Trust does not have seriously onerous overheads.

Now let me be straight here. Golf in St Andrews as a resident is still a very good deal indeed. But the Links Trust is supposed to be a charity. However it’s a charity with an effective license to print money and that takes care of the boys. These guys (I think they are all guys?) who sit on the Board are getting monstrously big salaries. Far too much in my opinion. I will have to look again but well well over a 100k per person as far as I recall. For running golf in St Andrews! I mean let me not beat about the bush here, even I could do that. But imagine all the freebies they’re getting too. It’s a gravy train and a gravy train that I’m not on I’m afraid.

So I don’t appreciate being effectively lied to when they say that they’ve had to put the resident ticket up by 41.67 per cent in a year, giving the line that it is a matter of survival. Which it manifestly is not. For some poorish students who have come here for the golf this is a lot of money guys. Not everyone is on a cushy number earning ridiculous amounts of lucre for organising a piss-up in a brewery.

Now on a different note, the Masters is over by all accounts. I will be honest. I never saw one shot. But what I’m hearing on the street is that the Sky coverage was woeful and largely focused upon Tiger Woods for some reason.

Why? That’s like focusing on some colourful bod at Wimbledon on Court 14 when all the real tennis is getting played and missed out on Centre Court. Tiger is not that big a deal anymore. Show the real bloody golf. That’s what people want and indeed mostly paid to see.

Now, I have never liked the look of Sir Nick Faldo (I better not forget the ‘Sir’ just in case he reads this. By all accounts he doesn’t even like being addressed as ‘Nick’. It’s got to be ‘Sir Nick’. Ok Nick) and I’ve heard from a most reliable first-hand report that he is an arrogant toad. Anyway it kind of amused me that he made that complete faux pas while commentating at the climax of the Masters, as Rory made his charge and holed that incredible bunker shot (ok I have now watched one shot from this years Masters!). Anyhow, the CBS cameras were seemingly focused on Cameron Smith putting on the 13th while elsewhere Rory sank from the sand. Sir Nick Faldo, who was watching Rory on another screen, took the whole drama out of the situation by exclaiming that ‘something amazing has just happened’. They then cut to a short clip of Rory (not even showing any build-up in the set-up for the shot) then holing from the sand. Thus the huge moment was spoiled for CBS viewers. They all kind of knew where that ball was heading.

But something else amazing happened Sir Nick. Someone gave you a knighthood and a commentating job at CBS.

Good on Brian Viner but…

I had heard the story before but not from the horse’s mouth to be honest. I only read the real story in the Daily Mail last week when the man himself recounted the anecdote.

I had heard it on a rather drunken Home Of Golf Society weekend some twenty years back from the captain of the club, Alex Pratt. The HOGS is a society for ex-golfing St Andreans who have a nostalgic annual trip to the auld toon to reminisce, drink and play a bit of goff.

Anyway, Alex recounted how this student chap (who was not a very good golfer) had blagged his way through security onto the practice area in the 1984 Open at St Andrews. Alex said that he had then proceeded to take up a position in the driving range and started hitting very wayward shots, to the amusement of his friends and some of the assembled audience.

Brian Viner, the bloke who actually did it (now a Daily Mail journalist nonetheless) however tells it slightly differently. He indeed managed to get through security by employing the services of a friend as caddie and told the security bloke that he was just off the course and desperately wanted to work on his short game (clever ploy all said). He amazingly got through but then his nerve kind of failed him a bit, because there was a free bay next to Severiano Ballesteros. He unfortunately didn’t take it. Kind of bottled it I suppose.

He did however proceed to the practice putting area where he was approached by an American journalist, who asked him for his name and what he thought his chances were of winning! Brian seemingly said that his name was David Ridley and somewhat down-played his chances of winning The Open Championship.

What a shame though that Brian hadn’t had the presence of mind to introduce himself as say ‘Armitage Shanks’ or something along those lines.

Now that would have been a topper!

Nevertheless Brian was treated to free beers all-night in the Dunvegan on behalf of his friends who had bet that he wouldn’t do it.