Well over a year ago Geri and Sandy, two avid golfers from Arizona, struck lucky in the ballot for Ryder Cup tickets and planned a whistlestop tour of the UK that was to culminate in four glorious, Indian summer days at Celtic Manor, cheering on the boys in red, white and blue or shades of grey or whatever colour combinations the Pavins picked.
Sandy ordered their regulation USA baseball caps on line, they came armed with their mini stars and stripes and acquired a fraternal Welsh flag to mix and match.
David, their travel guide and driver from Lynchpin, was charming, solicitous and resourceful, even sussing out the shop with the best cheap and cheerful wellies, but there were a couple of things he could do nothing about: the weather and Celtic Manor’s Wye Valley route march, a trek better suited to the Roman legions who used to live in these parts than to golf fans of advancing years.
At least it’s all downhill from the final bus stop to the course – although the spectators with bog standard, if expensive, season tickets complete with photo have to clamber on and off two buses to make it from the car park – and only half a mile to the wee bridge near the 10th green.
It is, however, a hell of a lot further to the 18th green and the site of the opening and closing ceremonies and if you want to do damage in the merchandise tent, there’s more marching, or slipping and slopping, through mud.
And, of course, it’s all uphill, or as near as dammit, on the way back. “If this was in America,” Sandy said, as thousands of yompers streamed past her on the way out on Thursday, “no one would be here. They just wouldn’t come.”
The gals, forewarned, didn’t come on Friday but they’ll be back on Saturday, welly-booted and spurred and ready to rah, rah, rah. You’ll see and hear them round and about the 9th and 10th.
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