Also published on the Golf Monthly website
We’re fortunate to have the most cheerful postman in the UK. Seriously, I would be confident of putting Ken up against any other Royal Mail employee in a head to head, “happy-off.” He’d smile, chuckle and chortle them off the park.
Every day I see him he’s beaming from ear to ear, he gives a friendly wave or stops for a chat. His favourite topic is invariably the weather. He gives his analysis of current conditions and a prediction on what’s to come. Even when the outlook is bleak he delivers the news with a hint of optimism. “Yes, it looks like a hurricane is coming – winds up to 140mph. But it’ll dry the ground out nicely so that’s good news.”
But even Ken has been left feeling a little flummoxed by the recent weather here on Deeside. Last week Aboyne witnessed record temperatures in the mid 20s. People were strolling around eating ice creams, sunbathing by the River Dee, they were out in the garden barbecuing and other such summery activities. But now I’m looking out at snow! It’s been as low as minus two and the golf course is closed. Ken knocked on the door yesterday morning to hand over a parcel. He still had a smile on his face but he was struggling to come to terms with the meteorological mix-up. “I just don’t know anymore,” he said. “It’s anybody’s guess what we’ll get next.”
What Ken? No optimistic slant? I knew global warming would have some depressing side affects but this wasn’t one I’d prepared myself for.
Luckily for me, I was away for the most intense snowfall at the beginning of this week. I was down in Surrey playing in the “Father and Son” Open tournament at West Hill Golf Club. I’m going to write a feature about the experience that will appear in a forthcoming copy of the mag so I won’t go into too many details. What I will say is that, foursomes is a stressful game and playing it with your father makes it even more so.
There’s a picture on the clubhouse wall at West Hill featuring an advert for one of the earliest Father and Son tournaments, held in the 1930s. It depicts a man and a boy looking at a ball lying in a very unappealing spot in a bush, the caption reads, “I’m sorry about putting you there dad.”
One of the unwritten rules of foursomes is that you never say sorry. I’m sorry, but that’s impossible. After I shanked one into the trees midway through the second round and it rattled off down a path leaving an impossible shot to the green, how could I not say sorry? After I’d hit a 315-yard drive down the third only to watch the old boy catch the (pretty straightforward) second shot seriously fat, I certainly didn’t reject his apology.
I’ve decided it’s ok, actually a good idea, to say sorry in foursomes. It gets it out in the open, you acknowledge your mistake and your partner is given the chance to absolve you of your sin. If you say nothing it bubbles under the surface. “Doesn’t he feel any sort of guilt for putting me in that bunker? I just can’t do this anymore.”
Dad and I got on remarkably well (ok, we didn’t fare brilliantly in the competition itself) but, relationship-wise, we’re still on speaking terms. I think part of it was our unspoken decision to say sorry when appropriate. Not every time we made a minor mistake, just on the top-grade blunders: missed 2-footers and balls out of bounds, the sort of thing that can’t be salvaged. If you’re driving someone else’s car, you don’t need to apologise for taking two goes to get into a parking space, you do if you try it in one and put a giant scrape down the paintwork!