This week?s blog is all about words and combines modest name dropping with bizarre tournament titles. Let?s get the name out of the way early on so that an enormous amount of unbridled anticipation doesn?t give way to an overwhelming sense of anticlimax.
Okay, are you ready? Well the name that is going to drop with all the force of a five kilo sack of sushi released from the top of the Sony head office in downtown Tokyo is my friend if not yours? Shigeki Maruyama. Shigeki, as he insisted I call him, and I played golf together about 18 months ago. The event was the pro-am before the tournament that I always thought had the most ridiculous title? the Southern Farms Bureau Classic. It has recently been comfortably overtaken by another event on the US PGA Tour, but more of that later.
The Southern Farms Bureau Classic, for those who aren?t hugely familiar with it, is played somewhere in the deep south. Although I can?t recall precisely where, I do remember that it was in the state of Mississippi because I was a guest of the Mississippi Visitor and Convention Bureau, who very kindly gave me a sleeve of golf balls. Each of the balls had MISSISSIPPI emblazoned on it which, although that might sound harmless enough, severely dented my confidence on the greens because whenever I looked down at my ball all I could see was MISS.
I formed the distinct impression that Shigeki really liked me and it was almost embarrassing how much more time he spent talking to me than he did the other two members of our fourball. Then I discovered the reason and it wasn?t my immense charm or remarkably cheerful disposition that appealed to him. ?I understand what you are saying,? he explained, ?not like the Americans.? United in our un-Americaness, we had a hugely enjoyable round.
At the 10th tee, a photographer took our team picture. Feeling that I now knew him well enough to beg a favour, I asked my friend Shigeki if he wouldn?t mind not smiling for the camera. When he asked me why I explained that he?s smiling in every photo I had ever seen of him and that one of him not smiling might become a collectors? item. This made him laugh so much that his grin is ridiculously wide in the photo that now sits on top of my substantial trophy cabinet.
Since that day I have followed his progress, which has been pretty dismal, and have often worried whether playing with me may have irreparably damaged his career. Then, at the weekend, I was hugely relieved to see that he came joint second in, wait for it, the Ginn Sur Mer Classic. Ever the investigative journalist, I googled Ginn Sur Mer and discovered that it?s a resort chain. Because it?s about to build a development on one of my favourite destinations, Grand Bahama Island, I won?t risk a gratuitous insult for fear of jeopardising my chances of ever being invited there. The one relevant thing I did discover is that the Ginn Sur Mer Classic was created as a replacement for the Running Horse Championship. Extraordinary.