The first Autumnal mist is lying like a silver cloak across the course. As I sip a latte from my favourite chair in the 19th and look at the golden crowns in the trees lining the course in front of me, it’s an apt time to reflect on another golfing season.
From the comfort of my living room watching the exalted atmosphere of the final day of all four Majors I’m sure even Derren Brown couldn’t have predicted the winners. The romantic in me was rooting for a Watson or Westwood Open win but to be fair Cink has served his golfing dues. He produced a great if workmanlike run on the rails to take the prize. Elsewhere I’m not sure in their heart of hearts Messrs. Cabrera, Glover and Yang thought they could do it. Although El Pato had won a big one before, he wasn’t tipped at Augusta and had slipped under the radar of most golfing experts. Lucas Glover I guess epitomised the American ethos of the being able to live the dream and that if you truly believe in your own ability you’ll get the reward. Will he go on from here? I guess only time will tell. As for Yang, I loved the drama of the final round at Hazeltine. As the back nine started, there was a bemused look from Woods who despite not really firing, couldn’t believe that this little man wouldn’t bow down to him and his last round history. When Yang hit that last great shot into 18 to seal the deal, his smile lit up the screen.
Back in my world of sporadic pars, provisional balls and three putts where has the season gone? It started in a flurry of activity organising the inaugural GM Forum Spring Meeting won by Chris Kissane (aka murphthemog). I’ve had the privilege to write the Forum Pages for the magazine for a while before recently passing the baton on. It allowed me to meet a lot of fellow golf lovers from around the country and enjoy a number of different courses. The company was always friendly, the games played in a great atmosphere and I enjoyed some magnificent courses. Sadly my golf never really married with the surroundings and I was patchy at best away from home.
I proudly commented on the Golf Monthly Forum and to a number of regular playing partners that my ambition was to get back to a ten handicap by the Masters (no, not that one, the Royal Ascot Masters) at the start of September. Sadly I came tantalisingly close and finally finished after 36 holes of medal play on Masters Sunday on 11.1. Was it a flourish of bravado? At the time I didn’t think so. Having come through a winter of tuition with a great teaching pro called Grant Sayer at Maidenhead Golf Centre my swing was sound. I had a new short game that was going to transform my scores. Cast your minds back. The season was there in front of us. Didn’t we all feel the same? Weren’t we all going to show our cronies that we could really play? Wagers on a Saturday morning were ours for the taking. We really felt we could take on the golfing gods.
In the end it was another year of peaks and troughs as I’m sure it was for many others. That one great game was always at fingertip length. I did record my best scores for each nine at my home course, +1 and +3 gross respectively, although sadly not in one euphoric round. I did manage to sneak a medal win and a couple of top-three places but other than that, I flattered to deceive with a card and pencil in hand. If the darkest hour is before the dawn then my 6, 6, 6 (double, treble, bogey) finishes in consecutive events (was that an omen) to throw away winning chances was that moment.
It’s only in these peaceful moments of solitude, looking down the 18th from my comfy chair that you get to reflect on the plusses. Royal Ascot continues to mature and improve and I’m able to get out and enjoy the course and the convivial surroundings of the 19th. I’ve met some wonderful new friends and enjoyed some golfing triumphs and disasters along the way. I’ve loved the post-match banter on medal days as the field recoup to rejoice or despair. There have been tales of 12s at our 1st (a par 3) and scores representing a lifetime best where for one round you were untouchable (nett 56 anyone?). Now the nights are getting darker I’ll immerse myself in the Golf Monthly Forum where the golfing sun never sets and there is always a view and opinion on this fascinating pastime. I’ve already read many posts of players finally realising their own personal goals this season. It might have been breaking one hundred for the first time, winning a club championship or even a hole in one so it seems that for many there has been a bountiful golfing harvest. If you were one of those my hearty congratulations and I raise my latte in salute.
I hope your golfing year gave you everything you wanted. Take the time to sit and take stock. Think of friends we may have lost, now striding heaven’s fairways. Think of the family who give you the time and space to pursue a game that for many is deep within our soul. Remember the highs and learn from the lows. Embrace the challenge of winter golf and revel in the anticipation of the trees in bud next spring heralding in a brand new season.