Death by Football

I watched both the Arsenal and Manchester United games on TV yesterday.

I really wish I hadn’t.

No that’s wrong. I’m glad I did. Because I’ve vowed never to watch another football match again in my life.

For this was on the back of watching a wholly uninspiring Barcelona game last week.

What’s all the fuss about football for? I’m not getting this. Dull does not convey the extent of the monotony in these games, by all accounts being played at the highest of levels. It was torture.

In about four and a half hours not very much happened. Ok there was a lot of passing about and ‘build up’ so called, but 99 per cent of the time this build up came to nothing. And then, the whole desperately tedious process would start afresh. Deary me.

And these guys on the pitch are getting ludicrous amounts of dosh to flounce around and go about the production-line passing of a ball. Why do people pay so much to go and see this stuff?

For some it’s maybe the Saturday booze up with the lads and the mob rivalry, adrenaline-kick thing. But why pay for that? Just tag along on the end of a Trump rally and shout something really inane there instead.

Ok I suppose some will go for the flashes of brilliance that seemingly sometimes occur on the pitch. But these are surely very rare indeed. I didn’t see anything coming near to inspirational in four and a half hours. In fact there were only a few exceptions to the wholly monotonous course of events, and that was some pretty shoddy football.

The one time that something different did happen was when Rashford neatly got round the full back and opened up the goal, but leaving himself a very poor angle of attack. To my utter amazement though he shot at goal, when the likelihood of scoring was about a hundred to one I would say, and when Matic was coming into the middle of the penalty box unmarked. It was very poor.

So that’s me done with footy.

But it’s never really been my game to be honest. I’ve been to one match in my life and got spat at by Alex Cropley as he took a corner, in revenge for the onslaught he was receiving from a group of ardent Rangers fans.


Maybe I’ll take up watching something more interesting now.

Paint drying, springs to mind.

Golf is not for Donald

You know, on reflection, golf is probably the last game that Donald Trump should be playing.

For golf is the ultimate game in which you need to be brutally honest. And there is no hiding from this. You may try and indeed many do. But, like the guy that thinks he’s clever and who never buys a round at the bar, you will be known and exposed for it.

It’s a hard call to make, for sometimes in golf things are not too clear. I remember in fact, during my best round this year, eventually finding my ball an inch inside the out of bounds on the 9th of the New. My playing partner and I had both walked past it initially, but when I came back from another angle there it was, slightly shielded by a tuft of grass. But it was in bounds, if only just. However I’m sure that it may have raised some degree of suspicion in my playing partner’s mind, and that’s natural as I hadn’t played with him before.

But in time we know who the real cheats are. Of course I always give the example of my brother marking the rich businessman who says he had a 5 when it was a 6 and tried to worm his way out, brazenly and most pathetically, by saying ‘no, a net 5’ when challenged.

This all just reminds me of Trump at the moment and his incredible antics with the election counts. In fact it’s of the ‘net 5’ comment pedigree.

He and his wunderland cronies are calling out this sort of nonsense for the whole world to see and it is all such primary school playground stuff.

Just imagine what Trumpy gets up to on the golf course!? Well we don’t have to imagine in all honesty, just look at his golf swing and ask yourself is this the swing of a chap with a 3 handicap, countless course records (I do here emphasise the word ‘countless’) and club championship wins to his name? No it’s definitely not.

This is the swing of the guy not buying the round at the bar and smirking to all and sundry, thinking that he’s being a clever little ass and getting away with it. But he’s not. He’s just being an ass.

A man who comes out with such inanity that it beggars belief. This one recently in the Georgia tape ” You know, I’m sure that you’re a good lawyer, you’ve got a nice surname”. And like his bleach brainwave, he was unfortunately nay joking.

And so, for the love of Christ! Spare us please Donny.

My recommendation to you Mr Trumpy is to maybe take up poker.

At least in that game, deception, trickery and being dumb, potentially have some merit.

Dave Thomson

Dave and I were at school together and started playing golf at the same time. He was always a far better sportsman than me though, being much more athletic and naturally gifted, although we both played in the first team at rugby and cricket.

He was a superb full back with a huge boot, an awesome fast bowler and a mean, big-hitting batsman.

It was no surprise then that he got much better at goff than me. In fact he came top spot in the Qualifying School for the European Tour.

He didn’t make a success on tour though. In fact he said he lost a pile load of money and bagged a divorce into the bargain.

However, he landed one of the best pro-jobs on the planet as head professional at the Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle. He’s been there for seventeen years now.

I was in contact last week, as I would like to go up and play the course with a view to writing an article on the place.

I think it’s a pretty rum idea to be honest. Dave and I could have a game and we could catch up on the last 45 years of our lives and compare our very different career paths. Dave kind of concentrated on golf whereas I meandered through university, bumming in the Alps, primary school teaching, ski teaching, golf teaching (well animateur at Club Med!), chartered accountancy, wine salesman, jobbing gardener, investment banker bod, insurance clerk, breakfast chef, florist, cafe owner, golf caddie, turf speculator, failed restaurateur, failed ski rep, roustabout, ski and golf company operator, plongeur, blogger, columnist for a golf magazine in Hong Kong, now defunct. Shall I go on? No.

So we would have a lot to chat about.

And of course, I wouldn’t be averse to sampling the menu at Skibo Castle either and having a wee peep at the wine list over a G@T in front of their big log fire.

In fact it would make a rather nice weekend, all told.

I wonder if Dave is thinking the same?

Goff in St Andrews

Of course I’m extremely lucky to live in St Andrews and pay only 240 quid a year for my Residents’ Links Ticket which entitles me to play on all 7 courses, including the Old.

In addition, I’m a member of the St Andrews and St Andrews Thistle Clubs which costs in total 200 a year. With that I get a huge amount of competitive golf and the use of the clubhouse facilities. Not a shabby deal alround? They sell a mean pint of Guinness and Penman steak pies, have decent snooker tables, Sky TV, a patio and balcony on the 18th and a pile load of history to boot.

No wonder St Andrews is such a mecca for golf and the house prices are still rocketing. And it will carry on I expect. You can’t replicate this stuff. Made of girders and all that.

They’re doing a massive facelift on the old Rusacks Hotel which has been bought over by an American outfit, Graduate Hotels. And wow what a change. The front facing bedrooms have balconies which sit on the eighteenth fairway of the Old and they have built a rather expansive rooftop balcony which looks like a bar and a rum place to sit and watch the golf of an afternoon. The only thing is though, that I’d be watching closely if the kilted caddie steps on the eighteenth tee. Accuracy is not in my game I’m afraid.

And I see they’re also hard at work at the Old Course Hotel as I expect they’re nervous at being usurped by the Graduate Hotels crowd. That must be a worry, as I know where I’d rather be hanging out and it’s not overlooking the 17th of the Old. These blokes at AJ Partners in Chicago, who own the Graduate group are developing a pretty niche and attractive brand. Watch out Herbie! Loos are one thing but views another.

So it’s all happening here in St Andrews and my handicap is even coming down too. In fact everything is starting to go a bit swimmingly. Even the nags are coming in.

But dare I tempt fate any further?

Ok then. 1.05 Sedgefield, Spin the Coin.

An awesome name at least.

‘3 things you need to know about rockets’

Not my title I’m afraid but that of Jessica Fox’s book about her upping-sticks from California to go and work at The Bookshop in Wigton.

Now that’s a whopping title for a book. It’s immense actually. I mean Jessica Fox may not even be a good writer, but with a title like that who needs to be. That will sell her book.

I mean Bill Bryson made his career, in my opinion, on the back of one good joke at the start of his first book ‘I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.’

That’s actually pretty good but alas, all the rest of his stuff is grossly overrated and not really funny at all. In fact I would say he’s dead lucky he cracked that Des Moines joke early doors. In fact he’s made a killing out of it. Funny how things work?

I mean it’s like Frank Skinner must have said something funny at some point. But I seriously struggle with that one.

I’m just working on my forthcoming book’s title and it’s tricky. I quite like ‘Round the World on 8k’, but for that I need 8k and to get over a morbid fear of flying. Would be fun though.

Of course, that Tom Coyne chap did the book on Golf round Ireland and he’s been very successful with it. I actually emailed him and said I’d had the same idea a couple of years back after I read the book about the bloke who lugged a fridge around Ireland as a result of a drunken bet. And Tom said that’s exactly what had inspired him too.

For some reason that kind of rubbed it in even more. But all credit to him.

And of course Oliver Horowitz has done the caddie thing with ‘An American Caddie in St Andrews’ and a rum thing it is. I suppose I could write ‘How not to get Put-Up for the R@A’ but that’s a bit too like sour grapes.

‘Ding-dong in the Muirfield locker room’ would be better but Chris has already written ‘You don’t need a tie’ and I guess Dr Hugh would rather that particular event was not overly publicised.

It all seems to have been done.

I may have to stick to ‘The Kilted Caddie goes on tour’.

This has immense scope.

Of course, Douglas Stuart’s ‘Shuggie Bain’ had to win the Booker. That’s a huge title. Also and by the sounds of it, he seems a very cool guy and has an important story to tell. Must read that one.

But first I must press on with my book.

Trump and goff

I see Trump took refuge on one of his golf courses the other day. I wonder if he scored well? Perchance another course record?

Presumably yes.

But who was he trying to fool by scoring well? His playing partners? The press? His obviously fragile ego?

And thereby he insinuates that people are generally fools? Or he doesn’t care? Because cheating at goff is most apparent and nearly always exposed.

I always go back to this very successful businessman playing a competition with my brother who was marking his card. The poor chap scored a six and tried to fob it off as a five. His retort when challenged ‘no a net 5’ !

A statement that is too untenable and ridiculous for words. But the pathetic man did try this on.

And now President Donald Trump has taken such behaviour to a whole different level on the world stage.

His election antics belong to late primary school years at the limit. Any reasonable mind should grasp the hopelessness of his stance. I mean even Iwanka has distanced herself, if not, Don and Eric. But they’re surely as thick as they come.

Maybe Donald might finally learn some humility from all this.

It’s not sir, all about winning.

On teaching

Well my tournament golf is certainly at a low point with successive 86’s on the Eden in the last 2 medals. My handicap is currently 8.7 and I’ve been agonizingly going through swing adjustments over the past few months.

I’m now going down the self-teach route, as my experience with golf instructors per se has been awful. You tube is handy for watching different swing actions and does give some insight. But like ski teaching there are far too many little fixes out there which can leave you heading rapidly down the 19th hole road.

I taught skiing for 15 years and am very cynical about the efficacy of a lot of the teaching out there too, to be honest. In fact most of the canon is pretty drivel and you only have to sit at the bottom of Hillend for half an hour at ski school time, to get an idea of the paltry, inane stuff that is dressed up in the name of professional ski instruction.

For mostly you learn to ski by watching and finding a natural balanced posture that suits you. You can’t really be told how to ski.

I always go back to the commencement of ‘teaching’ ski turns. There are chapters in ski manuals about pressure and angles and other mind busting stuff (squeezing your big toe nonetheless!), people being made to hold their hands on their knees and all such ridiculous piffle.

However, I found the best and most immediate way was to get the pupil behind me, head down the slope, start turning and say ‘follow me’. And they did.

And they did it naturally. Without their head full of unwanted, restricting and damaging nonsense.

The same mostly goes for golf I think, but after a few fundamentals are appreciated. A good balanced set up, a square take away and then a good coil of the body involving a slight tightening of the abdomen and a full shoulder turn.

It’s taken me forty years to approach getting this right and ridding my mind of bad habits born through bad teaching and my own misunderstanding. It’s a fact that the person who has given me by far the most insight into the dynamic of the golf swing is my local butcher.

Anyway, I must say I feel mildly confident with things now. But only mildly. It’s still very early days.

Let’s watch this space over the forthcoming year to see if the kilted caddie’s new golf method works for the kilted caddie.

And by the way, anyone wanting a kilted caddie ski experience (yes experience not lesson), can take me out to Val D’Isere for a week at that new 5 star pad.

I specialise in apres-ski.

Crazy Golf

It was indeed crazy golf at the end of the women’s ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills, which saw Mirim Lee chip in for the third time of the day to secure a playoff place and eventually win at the first extra hole.

But that third chip-in was not the craziest part of the day. Because that centred around a tarpaulin ‘wall’ erected behind the green on the last. Officials seemingly wanted to recreate the feeling of the usual grandstand. But all they did was effectively provide a wide back-stop to dropping into the lake. It was so placed that it invited an over-hit second shot on the critical par 5 last and a free drop from the back of the green. Mirim seemingly hit a huge hook into it, dropped and as said, chipped in for her eagle.

But this is surely not cricket? Or in fact maybe it is more cricket than golf? Well at the least it was crazy golf. For such a situation in a major is just crazy.

The LPGA should have some serious questions to answer over it. They should surely have envisioned this farcical outcome?

And I suggest a wee rule change whereby this cannot again happen. You should not be allowed to gain advantage by intentionally hitting into a place whereby you gain the advantage of a free drop.

The kilted caddie rule.

Now, there’s a crazy thought?

Oh, I can just sense my destined calling to the Bautherwhillery Club becoming ever so much closer to a reality. Think I could make quite a rum job of it on the rules committee.

Crazy how things work out.

Watch your balls!

I was rather aghast and taken aback yesterday, as two older couples were party to stealing my ball which I hit to the front of the 18th green on the Old.

Not only did one of them steal it (one of the ‘gentlemen’ by all accounts), but they all denied it when I ran and confronted them! Blatantly lied to my face! How very pitiful. I had to make the salient point that we had all left primary school. Indeed way back.

Two guys, independently, who were looking on at the 18th green, attested to the fact that one bloke in that group had definitely picked up my ball. They willingly gave me their names and numbers in evidence.

I immediately phoned the New Club Secretary to complain and got a very sympathetic ear from the nice and helpful chap there.

The Links Trust chap, however, was not so keen to pursue the matter and asked me what I think he should do about it? saying that they were snowed under.

In fact he kind of irritated me a bit when he asked if I’d apologised for hitting into them! To which I rather pointed out that I was not going to apologize for hitting into them after one bloke had nabbed my ball.

Bit of a shame all round. It was the first time I’d driven the eighteenth and a wee birdie would have secured the match.

Such is my luck!

But it does still appear that the Links Trust and me are nay entirely on the same wavelength yet like?

Swedish virologist had huge point

Yes I remember listening with great interest to the Swedish virologist chap who masterminded that country’s alternative response to the Covid pandemic.

And what he said most presciently was that once you are into a lockdown, it’s very hard to come out of it.

I don’t think this was at the forefront of Boris and clan’s minds’ as they quickly put the UK into a full scale lockdown back in March. And I suppose that’s very understandable. But what truth is in the statement now as our country struggles to get back to work and find a coherent policy and way forward. It’s become a nightmare and you just feel that the political response is very unsatisfactory and just wildly shooting in the dark.

It bodes very badly for the UK economy for sure and I don’t see any easy way back now. You just have to be very surprised that there’s not been a much bigger hit on the stock market. The jobs market is getting dire and heaven help the many independent business’s on the edge of all this.

And in the meantime we seem to have forgotten all about Brexit.

But what a relief that is.