My week in golf: Family matters
I can’t believe I am writing this. There are times when golf has to take a back seat.
It was my daughter Amy’s first birthday on Saturday.
Even I’m not that bad a parent I’d swerve a memorable moment like that for a day on the course.
So I only played 9.
I feel like you are all now judging me, and getting ready to call social services.
In my defence, she wasn’t in the house when I slipped out for a quick couple of hours.
Amy’s mum had decided an even better early morning birthday present for our little girl was to take her ‘volunteering’ at the local park run.
This involves standing around in a bib and either directing passing traffic or scanning the barcodes of runners.
So many happy returns Amy. I promise that birthdays will get better.
With all the presents to unwrap and a family tour to take in – everyone wants to see your baby when they turn a digit – there has been remarkably little time spent on the course over the last seven days.
But I did bear the burden of the M1 (is there a road that’s more disgraceful at the moment?) to take in a round at Centurion on Friday.
The charity Golfing4Life were holding a media day to spread the news of their development of promising young elite players and so it was a chance to play the intriguing St Albans layout.
Centurion has only been open a couple of years but it has fast gained a reputation for excellent customer service and an immaculate course.
I was paired up with three young stars of the game – all boasting a scratch or better handicap and an ability to hit the ball miles.
Now this is the sort of challenge that can send a balding 39-year-old with a propensity to miss fairways scurrying for cover.
Maybe it was just the surroundings at Centurion, or the feeling of sun on skin on a mild autumn day, but after 6 holes an unexpected figure was outscoring all of them.
An 11 handicap is nothing to boast about. It’s a golfing no-man’s land. You are not a beginner anymore but neither can you be taken seriously like you do a single figure exponent.
What it does mean, though, is that in the right circumstances you can play a bit.
When you’re in the mood and the swing is doing what it’s supposed to, you can put together a run that can match even a former Reid Trophy winner.
And so, for about 90 precious minutes, that’s exactly what I did.
Pars at the first two holes had me bursting with pride. Even a bogey at the 3rd – I missed the green left and came up too short with a chip – couldn’t dampen a bright start.
My best shot came at the 4th. A par 3 with danger all around, I hit a 7-iron from 140 yards (it’s still nearly winter and I’m not Rory McIlroy) to about 4 feet.
When I rammed the putt into the cup for a birdie 2, some of the dads had taken notice and were asking me what my ‘handicap’ was.
When I got to the 8th and was still one over gross, I was worried there was going to a revolt in the halfway house.
But all good things come to an end and so did this run. I meandered round the back 9, splurging a shot here and dropping another there.
I came home in handicap – 36 points. No mean feat on a track that was 6,750 yards and that I’d never played before.
But once you’ve tasted that sort of run, anything other than a record round feels like a disappointment.
Bob Rotella wrote, I think it was in Golf Isn’t A Game of Perfect, that what I’d experienced was playing the golf of which I am capable.
I hope it isn’t too long before I experience that feeling again. April, for example, would be very nice.