Generally Yorkshiremen are an insular bunch. Rumour has it that when the Great Fire of London started the Yorkshire Evening Post ran the headline ?LEEDS MAN SINGED?. So it was with great surprise and delight that here in Sheffield I received my second reader invitation.
John Spon-Smith took a huge gamble on his reputation and standing in the community by inviting the actor to play his small, but exclusive 9-Hole (18-tee) course on the Chatsworth estate, about 30 minutes drive south of Sheffield.
Tuesday was a simply stunning day. The sun was well and truly out, the azure sky had just the odd wispy cirrus cloud and just the hint of a gentle breeze. It was the perfect day for golf?. A shame then that we played on Wednesday. As soon as I awoke, yet another 8.00am alarm call (any more of these and I might as well get a 9-5 job), I could hear the unmistakable sound of rain drops on broken digs window shutter. It was raining as I got in the car, it rained the entire journey, but joy of joys as soon as I arrived at the course it stopped. I met with John, we changed our shoes and headed quickly to the 1st.
?If it stays like this we?ll be fine? I foolishly said, it was on the f of fine that I felt the first drop of the deluge that would plague our entire round. Who said God doesn?t have a sense of humour.
The 1st at Chatsworth is a short 290 yard par-4. Uphill. Uphill in the same sense that Kilimanjaro is uphill. I couldn?t believe that we had to walk it, for 10 minutes after I hit my tee-shot I was looking for the cable car.
After the first few holes it became clear that John, a fair golfer off 12, wasn?t having the best of days. His normally straight driving had deserted him and more than a couple of balls were ?Gone, gone, and never called him Mother? in the deep fescue that divided the fairways. After 9-holes of wet, uncomfortable golf and facing the Everestian 1st/9th hole, we decided, after all of 30 seconds serious deliberation, to call it a day. (It was John?s suggestion of a ?Full English? that really swung it)
An hour and a half later, having wolfed down my eggs, bacon, sausage et al, feeling warm, dry and generally wonderfully cosy, it was time to head back to my digs. It was a shame that the weather, if you?ll excuse the pun, had put a dampener on the day, but it was by no means a total loss. John was a true Gentleman and a pleasure to play golf with. The course, although rather short and not at it?s best, afforded some wonderful views of the impressive Chatsworth house and the stunning surrounding country-side. You see Golf is like Pizza, even when it?s bad, it?s still bloody good.