Last week I was hit by the sort of double whammy that would almost certainly have sent a person of lesser resolve reeling against the ropes if not straight to the canvas. The first, that hideous Wembley fiasco, has been thoroughly dissected elsewhere and so I shall endeavour to avoid mentioning it again other than to say that I watched the horror unfold in a five-star hotel in Spain, which didn?t lessen the pain uno iota.
I was in Murcia to selflessly check up on what Polaris World is doing and to see if a change of climate might re-invigorate my game. You must have seen the ads. They used to feature the Golden Bear strolling along the beach telling us about this exciting new development. Because I wasn?t really there long enough to ask, I never found out why he was replaced by an elegant Spaniard I presume runs the company creating this multi-golfplex.
The morning after the horror of the night before dawned suitably dismal. ?There are more days of sun (here) than anywhere else in Europe,? boasts the blurb. Well, this wasn?t going to be one of them. No, this was going to be one of the others that Murcia mercifully experiences only rarely. This was going to be precisely one of those days that we ?enjoy? all too frequently in Britain that persuades planeloads of us to desert these sodden shores for the sun-baked beaches of southern Spain.
A great many, it seems, are choosing to buy one of the thousands of apartments and villas that Polaris World are erecting around the planned Nicklaus courses, of which there will eventually be seven. Despite the rain I tackled La Torre, which is one that is already up and rolling. It lies at the heart of one of the Polaris World resorts and is consequently surrounded by 2500 properties, including 1700 apartments. Fortunately, the rain had driven the occupants off their balconies and spared them the dismal spectacle of me and my two playing partners duffing it in the drizzle.
We played the Perch, or Chair as it is sometimes called. You have to win a hole to occupy the perch and then win another hole whilst on the perch to score a point. If you halve a hole whilst on the perch, you stay on it but don?t score. If you lose a hole whilst on it, whoever wins the hole inherits the perch. If no-one wins it outright, it stays empty. Is that clear?
The single best thing about the Perch ? and where it metaphorically scores over other games such as Stableford or Four-Two-Zero ? is that very few points are won and it?s consequently remarkably easy to keep tally. In fact, our game finished precisely where it started with none of us banking a point. If only the match the previous night had ended up the same way. (You said you weren?t going to mention the football again ? Ed). Sorry. Anyway, what would have been very much more difficult would have been to have kept count of the ?For Sale? signs hanging forlornly from the adjacent buildings. Clearly the ?dream? of owning a place in the sun wasn?t working out for everyone.
Perhaps I should declare a disinterest. Owning a property overseas has never really appealed. I love the frost and the snow and the beer and the football and all the other ingredients that together make life in Britain a rich experience. Sweep that away and substitute 300 + days of sunshine and I?m not sure that I would remain either sane or sober.
But, as it is with my almost total inability to chip around the green, I recognise that I?m very much in a miserable minority. Millions of my compatriots want winter warmth. Polaris World offers that, golf, restaurants, swimming pools, tennis courts and all the other incidentals that combine to create Shangri-La. And they would appear to be able to do so at a very competitive price. Apartments start at around £80k. Mind you, you can buy an enormous number of waterproofs, woolly hats, mittens, umbrellas and thermal underwear for that sort of money.