And that, as they say is that. Chicago, for me at least is over. I have razzled my last dazzle, pranced my last dance and ogled my last chorus girl. All that?s left is to review the past year. A year that saw the birth of my first child, the birth of my blog and the tumbling of my handicap from 5 all the way down to 4.
I?ve decided to break the year down into categories and in the best luvvie tradition present awards to the winners: I give you the Golfing Blogging Actor?s Guild Awards, known as the GOLFBAGS.
The first GOLFBAG is awarded to the friendliest club. The nominations are:
Thurlestone GC – Devon
Wolstanton GC – Stoke
Canterbury GC – Kent
And the winner is?? Drumroll??.
Whilst Canterbury and Thurlestone are remarkably friendly places, affording the warmest of welcomes to visitors, they are just pipped by Wolstanton. The greeting I received at the pro shop and the way the secretary bent over backwards to accommodate my visit was astonishing. Then there?s the membership. Everyone I joined, and I returned a few times, played the game with such enjoyment and good humour, that even playing badly, and I did on occasion, in no way diminished the experience. The course was a little short due to lack of space, but challenging. And the 225 yard par 3, 6th will wreck many a card.
The only drawback to Wolstanton is finding it. You know it?s there, you can see it from the road, but getting inside is another matter. I drove round it three times before finding the entrance.
The next category is best municipal. And the nominations are:
Braid Hills ? Edinburgh
Kings Links ? Aberdeen
Troon Municipal ? Troon
And the GOLFBAG goes to??. Drumroll?..
The first thing you?ll notice is all the nominees are Scottish. Maybe it?s because golf is more a game for the people than in England, but their public courses are a different class. Braid Hills has long been a favourite of mine, with its gorse lined fairways and spectacular views of Arthur?s Seat and the Kings Links at Aberdeen is one of the oldest courses in the land. But the magnificent courses at Troon Muni win hands down. There are in fact three courses, but the two I played, the Darley and Loch Green, were wonderful, traditional links courses. As a test of golf the Darley just shades it, but as far as beauty is concerned then Loch Green is the course to play. The stretch around the town affords beautiful views across Royal Troon and the Portland out to the Isle of Arran. All for £20. And within 45 minutes drive of Glasgow city centre.
The next category is not one close to my heart. It?s the ?Actor?s Most Embarrassing Golfing Moment Of The Year? award. And the nominations are (how do I keep this down to three?):
5 iron embedded in dressing room ceiling
The incident in the members bar at Wolstanton
Playing the first two holes at Durham GC in one shot
And the winner is??. Drumroll??.
The incident in the members bar at Wolstanton.
Two weeks before Stoke, I?d noticed my six pack beginning to resemble a party keg. To combat this I put myself on a strict diet of vegetables and All-Bran. By the end of Stoke, this regime was beginning to pay dividends, however, the repercussions were severe. The amount of gastric wind I was producing could have powered Lichtenstein and I was having problems keeping it under control. It was so bad, members of the cast were beginning to complain.
During my final round at the wonderful Wolstanton, playing with club chairman Bertie, it was particularly bad. Controlled releases in discreet parts of the course were all that was saving me from what I presumed would be immediate banishment.
After the game having changed, I was making my way to the snug, when the urge for an almighty expulsion came upon me. The sung was heaving so I dived into the members bar, checked that it was empty, braced myself against a table and proceeded to let rip. I?m not sure how long it lasted, but it felt like a good 30 seconds. Fully punctured, I turned only to be met by the chairman and our playing partners complete with gaping mouths sitting at a table hidden from the door. After a heavily pregnant pause ?Ah, George I see you?ve found us?, Bertie as always proved the perfect gentleman.
The other GOLFBAGS including the major awards of best course and best round will have to wait until next week as my wife has just informed me that she?s popping out and could I look after the baby. When I asked how long she?d be, she replied ?no more than six or seven months, but that I was not to worry, because she?s come home on Sundays. A funny woman my wife.