It seems a shame to finish the round just when the sun is tiptoeing through and it is getting warmer. It is also a pity that I finished as badly. Having got my round on track round the loop I lost it on the final holes. 5-5-6-5. Five over on that stretch with 12 putts. I have a choice. Think about the Achilles heel of my game -putting – and resolve to do something about it – or concentrate on other more pleasant things. Not a difficult decision. Putting can wait!
The first item on the agenda is to sort out the caddies. (The whole subject of caddies is material for an infinite no. of blogs) but I will restrict my musings to the psychology of how they treat their clients. A caddy is never discouraging at the end. They want us to finish well. It is amazing how easily earlier rubbish can be forgotten if the final holes are good. A great / good finish equates to a great / good tip. An algebraically perfect equation.
In this case the rest finish really well and we make sure the caddies are rewarded on that basis, not my horrible collapse. Stephen, one of the other caddies, finds out I am a director of Motherwell FC. One of his best pals is a Motherwell fanatic and he asks me for my autograph for him!!!! I am embarrassed and temporise by saying that if his pal gets in touch with me through my blog I will organise a visit to the Board room at a home game. Much better option than my autograph.
As we stand discussing it I take in the surroundings and appreciate it all again. Sun, crowds now, town glistening after its shower and shaking off the water like a well-loved Labrador. I am lucky to be here, lucky to be able to play such a course, lucky to have been par round the loop. I wipe my horrendous finish from my short term memory. Only way to deal with it!!
As I am reinventing reality Niall gives me a gentle nudge re lunch or as I grew up calling it dinner. Almost all of my generation referred to our midday meal as dinner. The evening meal was tea. It was always those appellations. Nobody I knew used lunch. I was lucky enough to attend the top academic school in Scotland, Hamilton Academy, and it was the same there. We brought our ‘dinner money’. We said ‘school dinners are s…’. It was probably after school before lunch became a more common term.
The memory is triggered by the association of finishing / showering / eating. But the contrast with showers in the 60s, especially after school games, and the R&A clubhouse is absolute. One of the great treats in sport is a really good hot shower after a game, particularly when rain and the extra clothes that demands produce a clamminess that is impossible to get rid of without washing. St Andrews’ showers are in the top ten I have used – ever (should I start a separate ranking for showers and washing facilities at golf courses? Nobody does that as far as I know. An unexplored niche!!) I feel so much better after towelling and dressing in dry clean clothes. Even the tie doesn’t seen too much of an imposition. We have a first (soft) drink in the lounge at a seat right on the bow of the window. Feels as if we are actually on the course. The greatest view in golf. All the chat is golf which is normal and that theme continues as we traipse upstairs to one of the most exclusive dining areas in the world. We are sitting at the far end of the room, closest to the course and have a fantastic view out on to what is now a perfect late afternoon. That is my favourite time for playing. No better feeling than finishing the last hole just as the sun is starting to go down. Perfect. Must be some evolutionary drive. Coming home to the cave with a bison!! Unless you have missed the bison by three / four putting the last few greens!!!
I wish I could somehow distil the atmosphere in the dining room and the clubhouse. Pure golf, untrammelled by considerations of lack of diversity or exclusiveness. A direct unbroken line back through countless generations to the start of golf as a world sport. Like finding the DNA of our ‘last universal common ancestor’.
These esoteric thoughts are pushed aside by a more pressing matter. What to have for lunch/ dinner? I go with tradition. Potted shrimp followed by mince with a poached egg on top. And chips obviously!! The quintessential golf lunch – or one of them. And I have eaten them all!!
One small glass of red and then crumble. Must have crumble. Obligatory. Niall would be pulled up in front of the committee if his guests didn’t order appropriately and I don’t want to cause a problem for him.
So the final question after a brilliant day -is the mince at the Old Course better than the mince at the school canteen at Hamilton Academy? Answers on an e mail to Pierremarcoshite@hamiltonacademycanteen.co.uk from all those who have sampled both.