Count down to the Ryder Cup. Things had been said in the household of the Golf Police. Words bandied across the breakfast table. Some of them were four letters. It was time to tell some home truths.
“You do know it’s the Ryder Cup soon” I said spooning the coffee into the cups.
“Won’t affect me” said the Golf Police.
Assumptions can be dangerous. I had tried to lessen the impact on the family but the plans had fallen at the last hurdle.
I know about plans. Most battles are won due to forward planning, luck and a refusal to accept defeat. Nelson won his Battle of Trafalgar, Wellington his Waterloo. Hannibal did not let the Pyrenees and the Roman Army stop him from crossing the Alps. With elephants. If he could cross a river with elephants, I could outflank and out manoeuvre the Golf Police.
I started on the spare room. Took years of accumulated clutter to the tip. Cleaned the oak floor and tidied the book case. Moved the golf clubs to another part of the house, bought a DVD and rang the television man. It all seemed so easy. And then the hurdle tripped me up.
“You need an aerial” said the Television man.
“Why can’t I just buy a new television?” It was not that simple and The Golf Police drew the line at all the expense.
“No point” he said. I thought about the rafts and the elephants.
“I might have to pull rank”.
“Try” he said.
I needed to regroup. To plan and work out a strategy. The last two Ryder Cups had been bad news. In 2006 the dates had been ring fenced in the diary but the thespian was walking the boards in the land of the Bard. The same weekend as the Ryder cup.
We had checked into a hotel, with the pillow and the putter. The room had a big flat screen television and something could be salvaged. Between watching a Shakespearian tale of love and intrigue, lost princes and wicked step mothers, a loyal servant, diamond ring and decapitation in the Welsh forest, there would be time for fourballs and foursomes. But there was a fatal flaw in the plan. The television did not have the sports channel.
We will have to check out” I said.
We agreed to compromise. The Golf Police arranged boat trips and tangled with the willows and fishing lines as my team took on the might of the Yanks. I plied the Golf Police with red wine and bribed the night staff to give me sole control of the remote. It stayed in my handbag and I watched the team bring home the cup.
I dropped the remote in the river on the way home, ordered a new diary and wrote in the dates of the Ryder Cup for 2008.
It stayed in the diary for two years, until the Golf Police came home one day and broke the news.
“We have been invited to a celebration in a Chateau in France” he said. “In September”.
I went to church and lit candles. I stayed away from ladders and avoided cracks in the pavement. I saluted lonesome magpies and crossed my fingers and toes. There were four weekends in September. The candles and prayers failed. The cup coincided with the chateau celebration.
We packed the putter and pillow and headed off to France, as Faldo was trying to remember the name of his team members and their respective countries. Azinger passed the Opening Ceremony with flying colours. He knew the names of all his players and their home state.
We had crossed the sea before the first shots had been fired off the tee. We caught a train and travelled the French way. With children, chickens and bikes. We checked into the hotel as the first matches went out. The hotel was very French. Chic staff, ornate mirrors and marble. We seemed to be the only guests not checking in with a dog. I tried my school girl French.
“Bonjour Madame. S’il vous plait. Un room avec un grande telly and sans chien. Merci”. It got lost in translation. The room smelt of dog and the television was slightly bigger than the remote. I could not find the golf.
I went back down stairs.
“Excuse moi, Madame. Oui et the Ryder Cup?”
They showed me a map of the nearest race course. For horses. I showed them my golf swing. They applauded and a French man carrying a sheep dog down the marble stairs exclaimed.
I gave up. We went to the sumptuous party at the chateau. Candles light the drive way leading to the oak panelled high ceiling rooms. The chateau was a luxurious clubhouse and as we sipped champagne and nibbled canapés, a two ball approached the eighteenth green. The match was conceded and the two Frenchmen kissed one another on both cheeks. Then went home to watch the golf. Overhead a formation of geese headed west and far away in the states the Battle of the Ryder cup was being slogged out.
When the stars were out, we returned to the hotel of the dog and as the Golf Police slept off the champagne and wine, I watched the singles on the match box sized screen. I lip read the interviews, dubbed in French and watched the American rookies take back the cup. The Valhalla warriors painted the screen the colour of the red wine.
In the morning we said farewell to the poodles, huskies and chinchillas and congratulated the solitary American eating his croissants with strong black coffee.
“So we won a golf match” he said quietly “but we lost Wall Street”……
I dropped the remote in the sea as we headed back to the white cliffs of Dover.
Another Ryder cup glimpsed from afar. I made it two nil to the Golf Police. Twenty ten was my year and I was owed. So I mowed lawns and ironed shirts. I cooked feasts and went the extra mile with apple pie and custard. The pot of gold stars was full to the top. But that was before the garden shear incident.
Between hoeing and mowing, I chatted over the fence to the Sparky. Somehow we went from watts and voltage to swing planes. I told him about my flat swing and spending hours next to a wall with my driver. He told me about going up two shots in a medal round.
“All that work” he said “And then to go up two shots”.
He told me about Driver Dave. Dave whose body gets in the way of his swing. Especially with his driver.
“What degree driver does he use? Does he have a stiff shaft?”
Neither the degree nor shaft seemed to be the problem. It seemed to stem from the body of Dave being in the wrong place.
“Perhaps he could stand more open. Give himself some room to swing the club?”
The Sparky was not convinced. They had been away on a golfing trip. Dave had played well and got 22 points on the back nine. He went to bed that night and dreamed of the fairways. He dreamed of points and prizes and decided on a plan.
Plans sometimes go wrong.
He woke the next morning and stood on the first tee. It was a par four. One hundred and fifty yards from the tee box was a ditch. His hand hovered briefly over the driver and then he went with the seven iron. Perfect strike. Perfect lay up. Perfect plan. Driver Dave smiled. He could see the prize table and began to think about his speech. The next shot went into the ditch. Followed by another. At some stage his hands parted company with the club and it was briefly airborne. In fact it was airborne longer than some of his golf shots. He tore up the plan and cancelled the speech.
“Poor Driver Dave”.
“So will you be watching the Ryder Cup” I said. The Sparky put his tools down and lent over the fence.
“Watching it” he said. “Off to Spain on a golf trip and we will be watching it out there”.
I tried to be pleased for him. He wasn’t married to the Golf Police and his plans were on stream. No hurdles to trip over. Four balls, foursomes and singles. I had one television, one remote and no allies.
“Enjoy it” I said “and look out for Big Rich. He plays in our swindle and will be there for the first day. Big guy. Likes cake and cars”.
And so we went our separate ways. He went to fix his wires and check the watts and volts. I put the tools away, I thought about the problem of Driver Dave and whether it would help him to swing against a wall. I thought about the one television and pulling rank for the Cup. I thought about how many hours before the first ball was struck and whether Monty should have gone with Casey and Rose. I thought about Hannibal, the rafts and the elephants. And as I left the drive, I drove over the gardening shears.