NCG Top 100s panellist Tom Irwin's spiritual home will always be Seacroft, in his native Lincolnshire, the best course he got to play in his youth . Well, apart from Woodhall Spa. Where better than seacroft to kick off the new golfing season?
At 7.43 I arrived for our 7.30 meet up. Youthful, hungover sloth has been replaced by unmanageable manic middle age. We are late again.
We stop for coffee. Sustenance. Late-night curry, B&B breakfasts, garage lunches – diet fads give way to gluttony and back again. Fastidiousness is always defeated by feast. This morning there is only time for coffee.
We miss a turn and get lost. Again. In Ireland once, we made a two-hour, bleary-eyed drive to Connemara and arrived half an hour late – to the wrong Connemara Golf Club.
We talk. We always talk. Grandiose politics, Covid, Fantasy Football. Our company structure, our short-game secrets. How is your family? Who is your captain?
On we go. On and on. Away from home. The route, the purpose, the company, the destination. This is home. Not the lockdown home. Not a home of worry, and schooling, and stresses and endless responsibility but an ethereal home of fantasy and self-indulgence. A home of perpetual motion – no-one can get us here, mainly because they can’t keep up with us.
Our first golf trip since 2019. A remote links. A backwater resort, hanging off the eastern edge of Lincolnshire.
The golf is Seacroft. The charming drunk you only ever meet in your favourite pub. Tattered and charismatic. Malleable but menacing. Flawed but forgivable.
Today, 10 mph, firm and bouncy, it is three pints in and perfect company. Out you go. A road hugging the right and dunes the left. Greens in the air. Everything on the second shot. You turn round to shy at the short 6th and then off you go again. Dog legs, blind shots, angles, nuance. Until the 10th – oh the 10th – 140 yards in the sky across the wind. Always the 10th.
Back we come. The green at the 11th. The never-ending 12th. The tidal wave of 13. The green at 14. The angle from the 15th. The underwhelming end. The missing pages in your favourite novel.
The day is flicking through a family album. A snap shot of what life was and what life could be. Of space and blue sky and time and challenge and reward.
And food. We need food. But there is only time for a sandwich. We have a lesson to get to, and family to get back to, and work to do.
Our first golf trip back is over.
NCG Top 100s: The best golf courses in England
- THE RANKING: View our current England Top 100 list
- METHODOLOGY: How the NCG Top 100s lists are decided
- CLOSE CALLS: The English courses that just missed out in 2018
Visit the NCG Top 100s homepage for all this and much, much more.