I could have told Monty that command is a lonely place. I could have told him a team is only as strong as its weakest link. I could have told him about the Fed-Ex Gang, chasing the dollar the other side of the pond. I could have told Pavin that tigers are solitary and walk alone. But the Captains never picked up the phone.
I know a bit about the Ryder cup. I know Samuel Ryder and I had a lot in common. He grew seeds and sold them in penny packets. I am a dab hand with the hoe and fork. I know my perennials from my annuals. When Sam suffered poor health his doctors suggested fresh air and light exercise. My Doctor would do the same. He used to play off two and turned his back on the dimpled ball for medicine and a higher calling. I know he would suggest golf as a cure all and write a note to the Golf Police.
Sam hung up the seed packets, converted from cricket to the dimpled ball and was taught by a professional by the name of Abe Mitchell. Mitchell was the golf Pro at the little course on the headland, with the lighthouse which flashes out to sea ever thirty two seconds. I bet Abe stopped off for tea and fruit cake at the half way house. And ate as much cake as Big Rich and Sid.
The course where my Ma played and I walked in her footsteps. The same course where the Pro does me deals and leaves no paper trails for the Golf Police. Where the life boat cuts across the bay on its journey round the headland, with the notorious shifting Goodwin Sands. Where the souls of ship wrecked mariners are heard to cry on stormy nights.
Sam the seed seller earned a few bob, got down to a handicap of six and never forgot his debt to Mitchell, who taught him how to swing a golf club. When Sam sponsored a biennial golf match between the USA and the UK, the figure on top of the little gold trophy was none other than Abe Mitchell. When the Americans became too strong for their cousins across the water, the competition was extended to include the Europeans and became a sponsor’s dream.
Probably Pavin and Monty don’t know about my close links and ties with the cup and the lighthouse on the headland. If they picked the phone up, there are other things I could share with them.
The Ryder Cup is never plain sailing. From logos on the kit, to pricing of tickets for the fans. From wives present or otherwise. Where to park the burger vans and who gets the best changing room. From team selection to order of play, things are seldom without the odd storm or lumpy sea. And no one mentions the weather. In Wales, Galvin Greens are mandatory. A set for every day and every downpour. But, however tough Captains Pavin and Montgomery might think they have it, they should try walking in my shoes. They have back room staff, bespoke shoes and ringside seats. I have the Golf Police, shop bought shoes and no ringside ticket. One remote and one television.
Monty must be overdosing on headache pills. He wanted support at the haggis and tartan tournament at Gleneagles from Ryder Cup hopefuls. Some answered his call but Fed Ex Few left the jets on the runway, didn’t blink and called his bluff. They refused to fuel up the Lear Jets and head to the land of tartan. His wild card selections now stalk his waking moments and sleepless nights.
Then it became more complicated. Hanson clinched victory at the Czech Open. Jimenez cancelled his place at the top table with the bride and groom in Spain and booked a flight to Scotland.
The Ryder Cup captains jot down the permutations. To play or not to play the tiger. Three Europeans into four does not go.
Things had not run smoothly on the home front. The spare television set had finally been called to its resting place. It refused to work and the flickering screen, went a wedgewood shade of blue and then died. It was bad timing.
The Golf Police spent most of the week in the car. It had been a bad week. A speeding ticket in Wales. A parking ticket near home. And straying into a Welsh bus lane. The family offered support.
“Don’t go to Wales”.
“Why don’t you stick to the speed limit?” said the thespian.
“When did you think you were a bus?” asked Daughter No. One.
“Maybe when I kept giving you lifts”.
“Why don’t you stick the parking ticket on the windscreen instead of letting it blow upside down?” I asked after supper. Liver and bacon. Thick gravy and onion and mashed potato. Hazelnut yoghurt.
The advice was not well received. He opted to fight the parking fine and bus lane transgression and attend a speed awareness course. The letter arrived. Written in Welsh. There never was a good time to mention the Ryder Cup being played in Wales or the second television.
I waited until the speed awareness course was out of the way. The course lasted a day and cost twice as much as the fine. But no points on the licence.
“So how did the course go and shall we replace the television?” The timing was poor. It was worse than a fast swing completed before the club face was square.
“I got thrown off the course. Incorrect paperwork. And we don’t need another television”.
I cooked suppers, ironed the shirts and did some research on flat screens.
On the next golf day, I took my knuckles and neck off to the shopping mall. The television department was next to the bed department in my favourite store. I took the Bard’s Sonnets, laid on the bed and discussed flat screens with the hooker. I talked into his cauliflower ears, bent in the front row of the scrum. It was better than consulting the Oracle at Delphi. We settled on a twenty two inch. High Definition. It remained only to share with the Golf Police. I waited until the speeding, parking and bus fine were consigned to history and the speed course was completed.
“So how did it go? Was it in English or Welsh?” I asked. The response was minimal. Neither in English or Welsh. Just silence.
The parking fine was cancelled. It was agreed the Polish Traffic Management Enforcer had been unduly harsh and the ticket could still be read, albeit upside down on the windscreen. The brief visit to the bus lane proved costly. The Golf Police appealed on the grounds that the vehicle in question was regularly used for short trips to drop off family passengers, but it appeared the car did not pass as a big red vehicle and the fine stood.
The Golf Police spends his time staying out of bus lanes, sticking to the speed limit and avoiding Polish Traffic Management Enforcers.
That just leaves the Ryder Cup but not on the radar of the Golf Police and his lieutenants, is a golf match dreamed up by a seed merchant called Sam. They never heard of a gold cup with the tiny figure of Abe Mitchell picked out on top. Abe who taught Sam and walked the fairways by the lighthouse on the headland.
Battle plans need to be drawn up. Four days of match play. Foursomes. Fourball better ball and singles. Pavin and Monty continue to wrestle with their selections. Wild cards, waterproofs and Welsh weather. But there is shared history between the Golf Police, the Ryder Cup and the remote. I have not always won. But I have learnt to play the long game. This time the winner takes the remote.
Discussion about the second television remains on the back burner and the medium to firm mattress is still with the hooker in the department store.