If Ernie Els Asked

woody2There are two things you do not want to hear when you return from a golf trip.  Two things which do not go hand in hand with days of thirty six holes, Pinot Grigiot and early starts.  I heard them both.  They were not music to my ears.  Or my legs.  And if Ernie Els had asked, I would have said: “No”.

The Foot Prof would not have been amused.  A week of hammering the metatarsals on the tee.  Thirty six holes between sunrise and sunset. The Prof with his chunky cufflinks and compliancy rules had replaced the hobble and pain with fairways and the joy of the well struck shot.  The needles and drugs were a distant memory and life was good. With two feet.

It had been a good trip .  Despite the start.

“You have got to be kidding” said the Sheriff, looking at the  clubs and the trolley, the battery and charger. A golf holdall for golf bits and pieces. Hand warmers, spare socks and sun block.  Golf shoes. Plus a spare pair in case it rained. The Galvins and black umbrella.  The suitcase had been ditched for a kitbag, overflowing with  shoes, hair dryer, hair straighteners, jeans, shirts, fluffy towel and pillow and a book for bedtime.  Dried fruit and cereal bars for fairway munching.  Ipod, camera and laptop.  Plus chargers. 

The clubs and trolleys were stowed and wedged between kitbags and holdalls, we headed off to find the motorway. Left the Kentish cherry trees and bluebell woods and sought the south coast with its bobbing boats and gin palace marinas. We hit the first motorway gridlock and the Sheriff decided to find an alternative route.

“Can you just check the map” he said. I knew the script.

“No” I said.

The Sheriff tuned into his alpha male navigation DNA and we found the first course.  We beat Big Rich to the bar, beer and sandwiches. Gus and The Busman made it through the gridlock and Biggles  wished he had his plane.

Ruggy spent the day cleaning her clubs, clearing the fridge, warbling her scales and polishing her quavers. She loaded the car with clubs and kitchen sink and kept her appointment with the choir and the Record Producer.

“Still can’t believe she chose the singing over us and the golf” said Gus.

“I suppose you can miss a high ‘c’ but you can’t shank a crochet” said the Sheriff. The teams were announced and bets laid.  We left behind the mystery of the warbling canary and headed out for the first game of the tournament.

Biggles perfected the late lag and nearly drove the short par fours.

“You on any medication or steroids?” said Gus.

The sun shone, the putts rolled, the skylarks sang on the wing

The eighteenth was a replica of the seventeenth at Sawgrass. A par three island green.  Bunkered and necklaced with water. What it lacked in marble paced greens, it made up for with intimidation.  It was nearest the pin.  Biggles missed right. Miles right. Rich and Gus were long and The Busman bunkered. The Sheriff took the right club and nailed the pin.

Chips for tea and points tallied for the day.

Time to send a postcard to Sid.

Dear Sid,

We made it to Dorset with the clubs and bananas.  The Sheriff was not happy about the excess baggage and his suspension.  Played our first game and lost a few balls along the way. Off to the hotel and the weather forecast is good.  Let’s hope we packed the swing. Tell Pancake he should have left a ‘Dear John note’ at home and slipped away with his clubs.

All for now.

The Dorset Dimpled Ball Crew x

I sent a card to the Golf Police.

Made it to Dorset x

Ps might not bring so much stuff next time x

It was only a short drive to the hotel overlooking the marina.

The Sheriff travelled light.   One set of clubs and a small holdall. He travelled minimalist to my kitchen sink.

“What you bring, you carry” he said strolling off with his clubs and bag.

The hotel was shabby chic.  Needed a lick of paint and a plumber.  Water was either icy or scalding but the beds were good and the staff smiled, as we lugged our clubs up to the bedrooms.  We had our own table in the corner. Overlooking the yachts and still waters of the marina.

The bar closed early and there were no vegetarian sausages for breakfast.  Alarms were set and watches synchronized.

“When I say 7.30am “ said The Sheriff, “that is what I mean”.

Gus slept with his clubs and Big Rich discovered some baths come in extra large and soaked in the suds. We slept beneath a star studded sky and the Canary drove through the night. Humming as she drove along the quiet lanes and motorways.  With her clubs and kitchen sink.

Biggles was late for breakfast but we made the early morning tee times and sent Sid another card.

Dear Sid,

The Sheriff knows that time and tide for no man wait.  Nor do tee times.  We made it to Parkstone with time for a quick cappuccino.   Magnificent course of heather covered banks and fast greens. Willie Park Junior designed the course. All 6,241 yards off the whites and it would give Sunningdale a run for its money.  It gave us a test and we left some Taylor mades and Prov1’s in the gorse and heather.  Biggles had a good front nine and missed his putt for twenty five points.  On the front nine.  The back nine was not so good and he had to settle for 39 points.  At supper the Sheriff had pasta and cut him two shots.

All for now.

The Dorset Dimpled Ball crew x

Ps We have not seen the Boys in Blue but there are lots of people with stiff hair cuts and shiny black shoes.There is not too much social housing around here for key workers.  More footballers mansions with sea views, big fuel- hungry boats and bling.

We still lugged the clubs up and down the stairs and did a quiz in between courses. The staff smiled and the wine was chilled. The waitress took our orders and fired back the banter and  the waiter wrote some of the quiz answers on his pad. Outside the boats were still on their moorings in the marina.  The chef put the vegetarian sausages in the freezer and we slept and dreamt of birdies and fast greens.  Missed putts and lost balls.

I sent another card to the Golf Police.

Good golf. Good course. Good food. Nice boats x

Biggles was late for breakfast again, the Brazilian waiter was not familiar with vegetarian sausages and they were lost somewhere in the Chef’s freezer.

“Just have ordinary ones” said Big Rich. “There’s hardly any meat in them anyway”.

“ Isle of Purbeck today” said the Sheriff and he read out the teams.

“Don’t forget the sun block.The ferry leaves in fifteen minutes”. The ex law enforcement officer was never ambiguous.  Concise. Precise and never late on parade.  With shiny black shoes.

We made the ferry and forgot the sun block.

The Isle of Purbeck is a heath land course overlooking the coast. Peace. Scenes untouched by man, concrete and mobile masts.  A riot of yellow gorse and heather. Birds of prey and timid deer.   6,241 off the whites.  We walked the fairways and teed the ball high on the tee boxes.  Read the greens and missed the putts.  We tackled the Cratar and Cresta and fought Agglestone and Old Harry for our par. Old Harry always won.   We left balls in the gorse and heather for golfers to find another day. And in between shots, we sat and admired the views, from seats of long departed members. Gus missed a green. Took on a forest and fell down a hole. On the eighteenth tee,the clubhouse beckoned with its chilled beer,homemade Dorset apple cake and a barman called Jim. As the sun headed west over the mill pond sea, we caught the ferry back to our pillow and Brazilian waiter. Bill left the ferry and headed back to work with his suntan and golf bag wedged in the Morgan.

Biggles was late for supper.

“Where is Biggles?”  became the battle cry.

The Sheriff ate more pasta, reviewed the scores and kept the axe for another day.  We did another quiz between courses and outside the boats were motionless on their moorings.  “Don’t be late for breakfast” said the Sheriff.  We have another early start tomorrow.”

Biggles was late,the sausages were still missing and we sent Sid another card.

Dear Sid,

Playing Ferndown today.  Lots of pine trees and heather.  Peter Aliss’s old Dad used to be the Pro there and the greens and fairways are lush.  Used to be fifteen pence for a green fee but we raided the piggy bank.  Bill has gone home and Biggles got cut two shots.  Gus can’t find his game and nor can The Sheriff. Sometimes we can’t find Biggles.

All for now.

The Dorset Dimpled Ball crew

Ps we need to buy Biggles a watch.

In the evening we added another Ps to the card.

Pps  We played the course.  The course where Percy Allis was the Pro. It was worth raiding the piggy bank.  Had our very own starter called Colin, who wore a blazer and tie.  So very English in this heat!  We survived the pollen storm on the seventh but it ruined the Sheriff’s eyesight and game.  Ruggy got 33 points and Gus found his swing and won nearest the pin. I shanked on the first and got two blobs but met a nice chap called Harry on the seventh, when Gus hit a tree and Biggles found the heather.  We had fish and chips for lunch and took some photos of deer. And the Starter.  This is the end of the tour, Sid.  We are glad you had that raw egg in France last year. Dorset was a good choice but it’s time to head back to the motorway and the metropolis.  Time to leave the deer, Brazilian waiter and bobbing boats on the marina.  Time to say farewell to the quizzes and the score cards. Par and double bogey.  The missed putts and the outrageous birdies. Farewell to a feast of golf. Eating, talking, sleeping, dreaming golf.  Golf at breakfast. Golf at lunch and golf at dinner.   Time to head home to family and loved ones. Time to put away the golf clubs.  Rest weary bones and worn spikes.  And think of all the ‘what ifs and might have beens’. See you soon Sid x

We turned our backs on Dorset and the boats.  The fairways, heather and skylarks and headed home. Sunburnt. Exhausted. Golfed out.   And if Ernie Els rang my mobile and said:

“Do you fancy a game at Wentworth tomorrow? Fancy trying to get on the eighteenth in two?” my answer would be:


But Ernie never rang.  Instead, Ruggy dumped the clubs and trolley and kitbag and holdall on the drive and the Golf Police said:

“Good trip?”

“Wait till you get the post card” I said.  And then he said one of the two things you do not want to hear after a golf trip.  When you are sunburnt, exhausted, golfed out.

“Save you cooking, we are going out for supper with friends.  Be ready in ten minutes”.

I looked at the remote and the soft sofa.  The Big Boys playing Wentworth and beans on toast for tea.  And as I went upstairs to get ready, Daughter No. One said the second thing you do not want to hear after a golf trip.

“I’m riding tomorrow. Fancy walking around with me and the horse for a few miles?”  The horse is 16.3 hands.  It has four legs. My two were tired.

“Yes” I said, “that would be lovely”.

Dorset and the Dimpled ball crew were just a distant dream. Old Harry waited at Purbeck and the other Harry walked the lush fairways of Ferndown.  Strangers sat at our table and ordered full English, as the boats rode on their moorings in the marina and the lost balls sat silently in the yellow gorse and heather, where deer nibbled the grass in the blue light of the dawn.


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If Ernie Els Asked

4 Responses

  1. If only you would translate that to American English!

    Bill May 24, 2010 at 2:28 pm #
  2. Bill, sorry I spectacularly zapped your comment. Sorry :) In answer to your question “Can I translate into American English?”. Here is the deal. I will try and remember you say cart and we say trolley or buggy. You say pants and we say trousers. And I will go easy on the ‘whoops a daisy’ (Notting Hill – Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant). Hang in there and keep reading :)

    Woody May 24, 2010 at 8:23 pm #
  3. So glad you enjoyed Purbeck. It is great to get positive feedback .I am obviously biased but think you would have to go a long way to beat the views. Mind you it is a killer in the winter !!!
    Hope you visit again soon.
    All the best,
    Alison Rumble (Lady Captain )

    Alison Rumble June 11, 2010 at 2:41 pm #
  4. Alison,
    As you say, the views were stunning and we will be back for the peace and the Dorset apple cake! Kind Regards. Woody

    Woody June 11, 2010 at 5:09 pm #