Getting on the Old Lady

Working in my job as concierge at the Fairmont I have been asked numerous times over the past few weeks, especially by keen-eyed Americans, about nabbing a tee-time on the Old Course.

The truth is that there is no miracle way, unless your name is Jack Ma and own half of the universe. He immediately got a tee-time allocated after arriving in St Andrews as part of his ongoing golf tour a few weeks back (according to one of his entourage ‘he has played golf every day around the world over the past three months, mostly in Europe’).

Jack nailed a four-ball at 7.30 am on Friday somehow. I won’t tell how. I am in trouble enough doon toon as it is.

Suffice it to say that he didn’t go through the ballot system!

However your average golfing Joe Bloggs is unfortunately not Jack Ma.

Indeed even a Mr Neil Armstrong who remonstrated with a starter that he was the bloke who had walked on the moon, thought he had a chance of winging it.

‘Aye, but you are nay going to walk onto the Old Course sir!’ was the very dogged de-facto reply from an unswayed starter, who maybe did not appreciate the enormity of his underlying humour, but must have certainly known that he’d brought Neil down to earth (apologies for this! smile sign with wink)

Last night about 10.30pm I was approached by two very determined looking middle-aged Americans who asked about getting an early taxi down to the Old.

‘How early I asked?’

‘2am’ came the firm reply.

They had resolved to camp out in the queue. I booked it and said they should definitely get on queing at that time.

I woke this morning to the pouring rain and took my hat off to these two gentlemen.

I just hope they haven’t caught double pneumonia, the rain stops and indeed that they get on!

Stop Press:

Indeed they did get on! It’s now 8pm the following night and I just saw one of the 2am blokes. He said they got off at 6.30am in the first group!

What a sterling performance.

Perchance dollar.

For the love of money and the 5th Amendment

That’s about the long and the short of it I suppose. This LIV nonsense. Not for the good of the game as some of the LIV numpties are glibly declaring.

But what a total shambles and what a total mess. 11 idiots taking the PGA Tour to task in a Californian District Court for rightly suspending them.

It’s all very Trumpian. An utter sham, a pretence and a big lie. And all for money!

How much do these bunch of Charlie’s want? For playing golf indeed.

It’s all going down hill fast.

But so is the world at the moment all told. I mean look what’s happening across the pond! It’s unbelievable.

America is split down the middle between incredibly nice and intelligent people and the brain-dead scum of humanity (some who unbelievably sit in Congress)

And it appears professional golf is so split too.

Parlous times.

I must end with a bit of a hoot. Trump’s quote yesterday when questioned under oath about possible business valuation fraud.

‘I have absolutely no choice but to invoke the 5th amendment because the current administration has lost all moral and ethical bounds of decency’

I’m afraid that I have no option now but to invoke the 5th as I’m just lost for words.

A golfer and a gentleman

This week at The Fairmont I had my faith restored in professional golfers as I had the great fortune to caddy in a group that included the South African pro Brandon Stone.

What an absolute gentleman he was.

Avid readers of my blog will know of my lingering doubts about the professional golf ranks after my Dunhill experience with the ignorant rude brat that is Matt Wallace and a recent encounter with a self-obsessed and haughty Sir Nick Faldo.

But the delight of Brandon’s company has now changed all that and rather kicked them and the associated negativity into touch, where they indeed belong.

For there is no cost to being nice and considerate and friendly and open-minded, no matter how good a golfer you are.

Thank you Brandon Stone for showing me that.

And what a golfer you are sir.

Wow! What an Open

It’s really quite incredible what Cameron Smith did on the last ten holes at St Andrews to clinch the Open from a fired up Rory.

With Hovland not getting into gear at all on the final day, Rory must have thought that he had the 150th Open Championship in the bag. However Cammy Smith hit 5 consecutive birdies on the trot after the turn and Rory suddenly realised that his playing partner Victor was not the danger.

Cameron’s par on the 17th was absolutely immense all said. The putt around the Road Hole bunker and then to nail a fifteen footer which never looked like missing was almost beyond belief. That up and down effectively clinched him the Claret Jug. That must be one of the biggest putts in golf history, up and downs for that matter.

Poor Rory. He didn’t do much wrong except maybe rest upon his laurels too much.

But wow what a tournament.

I got down to the 18th fifteen minutes before the end to get a bit of the atmosphere. I have never heard anything like the roar of awe when Cameron Young drove to 12 feet on the amphitheatre that was the last. It was really quite remarkable.

And what a spectacle with the hugely appreciative and respectful crowd basking in the late evening St Andrews Bay sun.

When Cameron Smith putted on the last green there was absolute silence. Quite amazing.

What a fine example to the sporting world the golf crowds have shown us this week in the Auld Toon. Wish that football, even rugby would take note.

Now, I’m well excited as I shall be teeing off in the St Andrews Club Summer Meeting this Saturday and really can’t wait to play the Old Lady again.

I’m afraid I won’t be able to bag back to back Spring Meetings (shall I say Meetings as the St Andrews Club one is the Autumn for some reason!?) as I played badly at Mortonhall in Edinburgh last Saturday. Albeit Dave Cockburn and I progressed into the 4th round of the Mortonhall Foursomes on Sunday morning. That’s really the major at Mortonhall all told. Well maybe outwith the Dewar Hill Race of course!

Apart from that I’m loving working up at The Fairmont as a concierge and somewhat ad hoc caddie. What a great team they have up there.

It’s a joy to work with decent people, well mostly!?

Stop Press

I now know who the mystery celebrity was in my last post!

Bruce came up to me last night in the foyer of The Fairmont with a big grin and said he’d gone back to google famous golfers. And there was the man! It was five times Open champion Tom Watson who’d shot the general breeze with our Bruce for 5 minutes and who probably found it very hard to imagine that Bruce didn’t know who he was!

But Bruce is not a golfer and I guess Tom Watson is not as ubiquitous a brand as say Tiger or the kilted caddie.

What a stormer this Open is turning out to be! What with the weather and the massive hyped crowds and Rory right there at the top of the leaderboard after 2 rounds alongside well out of favour DJ and some amateur college kid with a real funky hat.

My money is on that guy. He’s one cool dude.

Now what’s his name?

Great shame for Tiger though. I saw him limping real bad back into his hotel room after his second and last round.

He is one unhappy chappy.

On having a bit of a one- way dialogue with Sir Nick Faldo

I’d kind of idolised Nick Faldo from a very young age. At a time when all I really thought and cared about was golf. It was Nick Faldo who stood out from the field for me. His swing was a masterpiece in flowing rythm. If he’d been a sculptor he’d be a Rodin, as a poet a Gerald Manley Hopkins.

So get the surprise I got the other day when I suddenly realised that I was standing next to him in the foyer of The Fairmont. I wasn’t going to say anything at first but then I thought hell why not.

‘Nick, can I just tell you that your rythmic swing was a real inspiration for me as a kid’

Nick looked at me with a face devoid of emotion and may I say of much intelligence. It was kind of a blob of unmoving slightly over-lived arrogance if you get my drift.

In response (if I can bring myself to use the word ‘response’) turning around and briefly looking at me, he didn’t utter one syllable or give away any other indication of being a sentient human being for about 3 to 5 seconds.

At which point I’m sure some neurons must have kicked in as he turned back to the group he was with.

Quite incredible really. I mean he could have given even a small Dominic Raab wink or a smile or at a push he could have proferred a ‘That’s nice’ or ‘I’m glad’ maybe? He could even have had a stab at a joke.

But no. There was this kind of emotionless vacuum. From my perspective it was as if he had just navigated past a piece of dog turd.

To be honest though I wasn’t that surprised from what I’d heard about the man. Shame that he’s so obviously very wrapped up in himself.

I will tell you a wee amusing anecdote from yesterday at The Fairmont though.

Bruce our lovely down to earth concierge from Forfar was talking to this man. The man finished by saying to Bruce ‘you don’t know who I am do you?’

Bruce didn’t know who the man was and said so. The man seemingly then just walked away.

And we don’t yet know who he was.

Unfortunately.

Interesting times amongst the rich and famous.

Well the famous-ish I should say!

Open Tickets for 12th July

Hi guys. Hope everyone is getting excited about The Open next week.

I have four tickets available at £45 each for Tuesday’s practice day which promises to be a hot idyllic one in our golfer’s paradise. These are tickets from a South African friend who unfortunately can’t make it anymore.

Everyone, remember to keep hitting it low and straight, apart from on dog-legs.

Outwith that I had a great fun day caddying at Fairmont this morning with the lovely Mo and Paul from Boston.

What very nice people. We had a good few laughs.

I start my new concierge job at the hotel on Sunday.

It’s going to be wild.

Interesting stuff on the political front with Bojo the Dodo.

I really can’t cope with this self-obsessed narcissistic freak who thinks he’s a Winston Churchill out to save us all.

A deluded spoilt brat from Eton with a silver tongue maybe, but unfortunately for him it’s all come via a silver spoon too.

He (miraculously) on two occasions didn’t get the Marcus Rashford school meal thing and he certainly isn’t getting that he’s no longer wanted as leader of our country.

Go and do us all a big favour Bojo.

Oh dear Mr Poulter

I was a bit taken aback by Ian Poulter’s lack of backbone when recently interviewed about the LIV Tour by a panel of journalists. But it was one journalist in particular who rather stumped him.

It went something like this. Would you play in a tour if Vladmir Putin was at the head of it?

At this point I wish I could have been in the room to see him and Westy cringing at this excellent question, given that Saudi Arabia are brazenly heading up the LIV Tour.

Ian came out with ‘that’s a speculative question and I’m not going to answer it’

I suppose, Ian, you meant ‘hypothetical’ ?

And also, I reckon you’ve being watching too much ‘Today in Parliament’ because that’s the sort of deflection that Bojo would try on. Except he would at least get the right word.

However, the journalist then delivered a knock-out follow up in asking, essentially, if there were any moral grounds upon which he would not tee it up for loads of money.

Ian answered ‘I don’t have to answer that question’

To me this raises just two questions.

Does he not understand the meaning of the word ‘moral’ ? or has he simply got the ethical outlook of a Donald Trump and anything beyond getting a birdie is outwith his mental grasp?

Poor, poor stuff Mr Poulter.

Almost as bad as General Flynn invoking the 5th Amendment when asked about whether force should ever be used to prevent the peaceful transition of power!

You and Flynn are utter blockheads I’m afraid.

Quite astonishing really.

LIV Tour and other stuff

This new mega-money LIV Tour is causing a bit of a stir in the world of golf. Dustin Johnson reputedly has been paid a $26 million fee to play it. Bryson Dechambeau and Patrick Reid have just jumped ship too. How predictable was that?

The PGA Tour is in a bit of a quandary as to how to play this though and at the moment it looks like it’s suspending those individuals from playing their Tour. And of course it’s all about money. Obviously the Saudi’s have a lot of that and look like they are willing to throw crazy amounts at this.

Now you wouldn’t expect the likes of Bryson Dechambeau, Patrick Reid, Greg Norman and Phil Mickelson to take a moral stand over the Saudi’s. They all don’t appear to be the brightest fish in the pond and have, let’s say, rather faked-up Donald Trumpish world outlooks. That is money and money and oh yes, money. They say they are making ‘business decisions’ and all that expected cliche’d crap.

It rather sucks. Especially when some pro recently commented ‘it’s not all about the money’ Of course it is.

I think when Greg Norman was asked about Jamal Khashoggi he replied ‘yes we all make mistakes’.

Yes Greg, like when you open your mouth on a serious issue.

We can be very grateful for the guys with brains like Rory and Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth who have rightly and properly turned their backs on this nonsense.

In my golf world I bombed out of the division 2 championship in St Andrews. I played badly. I was 4 down after 7 holes, somehow managed to get back to square on the 13th tee but then lost it again. I was convincingly beaten 4 and 2.

However I will now be marking my ball very distinctly and for the following reason. My tee shot on the par 3, 13th went left and looked like it bounded round the corner towards the further rough. I hit a provisional which went left but on the fairway. We looked for my first ball which we both thought had gone further than it actually had. Then I walked back towards my second ball and saw my first in the rough parallel to it (the reality was that I struck the balls about the same). Now my playing partner was a bit surprised that it had only got that far and to be honest so was I as it looked like it had gone further from the tee, but it was my ball.

However, there is always that very awkward moment when you sense a kind of marginal disbelief in someone’s voice. I could only say ‘it’s definitely my ball’ Which it was. It was a Titleist 4 with 3 dots and ‘Fairmont’ written on the side. A ball I had found and someone else had marked.

A slight weakness is that I have been using the markings of balls that I have already found and am not in the habit of distinctly marking my ball. The point is that this can give rise to doubt. And it’s not a nice place to be to be honest. Especially at a critical point in a match, which unfortunately this was.

So I shall be marking my balls ‘TKC’ from now on in a very distinctive and fetching pink. Period.

My golf though was a worry during the championship but has since improved beyond all recognition.

I will keep you posted on this one. I’m pretty excited about it.

What a day at Mortonhall

The sun shone, the course was immaculate, the birds were singing, old friends appeared, we chatted and laughed and made merry. It was altogether a very happy day.

Don’t mention the golf though, as I probably made the worst start in the history of championship qualifying at this, the oldest club in Edinburgh. To say I didn’t get out of the stalls is a bit of an understatement but we’ll go with it as it was Derby Day too.

So off the first tee I hit two consecutive shanks and lost two balls with my play-safe 5 iron and then proceeded to hit five off the tee with my driver which went with pace through the tree left of the first tee and was also never seen again. I accepted my lot. A NR. Surely the quickest no return declaration in a comp? What I need to know is that if the rules permit a 3 minute search for each ball? Or is it en masse? And if so may I say these balls were well apart.

Of course I knew it was never going to be an uneventful start back in the big league at Morty but this took the biscuit. It’s rather a blessing that we weren’t playing off the old first tee in front of the clubhouse.

Now will you believe this though. I’ve never felt so good about my goff and my swing. I just really have to drop it inside from the top by letting my arms fall and not use my upper body to swing across it. This has taken me a tonne of time to learn by the way!

Ok mentally things have got to improve a bit (however what’s new there!), but I’m pretty excited all told.

It was so lovely to get back though and I had a great half an hour shooting the breeze with some of Dad’s old pals. It was like winding back the clock 30 years. Mortonhall was a big part of my life for so long.

This week however I’m in St Andrews and feeling very bullish about my chances in their champ. I’m through to the quarter finals already as my opponent declared a positive covid test. But I’m reading more into it than that.

I would love to at least tee it up in the final on the Old Course this Friday evening. That would be fun.

Except I don’t think my playing partners on Saturday would quite believe it

I do hope they are ok. Must have been a bit traumatic for them.