The Undertaker spoke with careful deliberation. His words were measured, his instructions precise. The date and time were confirmed.
“I think the weather will be ok. Take care” he said. “See you Friday”.
In the diary the date was ring fenced in big bold black letters. Outside, the thrush was singing from the chimney top and somewhere a moorhen called her brood to the safety of the reeds.
Soon it would be time for tennis and strawberries. The Druids would be ironing their robes for the summer solstice and the sound of leather on willow cricket bats would be heard on village greens. June had been its usual mix of rain, windy days and cloudless blue skies. The rain had taken the sting out of the greens and the fairways lost the unfair lottery of the bounce.
“Prefer these greens” said Gus sinking another long putt on the fifth to salvage another half with Sid.
Shame you can’t find the fairways” said Pancake cleaving the middle of the sixth fairway with his shoulder turn and hurling hands.
Big Rich found the trees on the left and Sid kept him company. Ahead the ancient Vets, with their arthritic hips and knees, tapped the ball down the middle of the fairway. They knew every chip and every subtle borrow on each green. They played early and seldom played eighteen before turning back to the clubhouse for tea and the morning papers.
Abercrombie looked down from on high and smiled from his celestial home. He knew the bunkers would wait for the wayward shot. The greens would punish the timid or the bold. And he knew Big Rich and Sid more often walked the woods than the short cut grass.
Gus took the front and back. Ruggy walked away with nearest the pin.
“Need to get your handicap checked” said Pancake “stiffing it to the pin and you off fifteen”.
Ruggy refused to blush and pocketed the winnings.
“You all need to try a bit harder” she said and headed off to the supermarket. Gus had a quiet word in the car park.
“Sorry I can’t be with you on Friday. I’ll be thinking of you”.
“Very kind of you. Thanks”.
“It’ll be ok” said Gus and we traded hugs.
We loaded our cars with the paraphernalia of golf and became part of the traffic.
Things were running smoothly on the home front. The ironing was up to date and the fridge had been decontaminated of all things no longer edible. The thespian was still in rehearsal mode. Gargling aspirin and making vitamin busting juice drinks.
Hope you are word perfect and ready to rock them with the tale of King Arthur x How’s things x
Don’t ask x
So I did not ask.
I took the clubs out and enjoyed the soft greens. Enjoyed the way they held a three quarter pitch or a running eight iron from the fringe. Enjoyed the roll off the putter and the sound of the ball dropping into the cup. And in between, I thought about the Undertaker and the date ring fenced in the diary. I took a day away from the fairways and went to source an outfit.
Changing rooms are not good places. Too many mirrors and too many queues.
“Sure you have the right size, Madam?” said the Shop Assistant.
“Remember that one’s cut on the bias. Had you thought about a more flattering length”.
I shut the curtain. Hard. And wished I was out buying clubs. Checking out the co-efficient of restitution. The degree of a driver. The whip of the shaft or the soft feel of a ball.
“Why don’t you try a different style?” The assistant was very persistent.
“Surprise me” I said.
She went off to find something not cut on the bias and I thought about researching a new driver. One which went straight.
I bought the dress not cut on the bias. Discreet colours and a light fabric. Perfect for the summer weather. In the end I went with a hat. Black with a twist of colour on the brim. I went home via the driving range. The driver behaved and the wedge shots were crisp and it only took a hundred balls to feel better about the shop assistant and the dress sizes.
“Not sure about the hat” said the Golf Police. I poured some more cream on the apple pie.
“I have made up my mind” I said “and spoken to the Undertaker. He thinks a hat will be fine”.
The Golf Police finished the apple pie and went back for seconds.
And the day arrived. The birds woke early and sang from the chimney tops. They beat the sound of the alarm which went into snooze mode.
“Five more minutes” I said and turned over and went back to sleep.
In the house of the Undertaker, the alarm pierced the dawn. He reached out and turned it off and headed to the shower. His clothes were neatly hung on the wardrobe. Muted colours. Black with a suitable tie. And shiny black shoes.
In the end, Gus was right and the day was ok. The Undertaker took charge and said all the right things.
“I like your hat” said to the Undertaker. The black hat with a twist of colour on the brim.
He understood the order of the day and things ran like clockwork.
Until we reached the thirteenth hole. Nearest the pin. Beat the Pro. We had only started on the previous hole and had scrambled the points. Competing against the Pro before the swings had time to settle, had proved a swing too hard and no one beat the Pro. Or found the green and another hole was given up to the course and the card.
“Come on team” said The Undertaker. “We can do this”
And for one hole we did as he asked. Two birdies. Eight points. But it was to prove a false dawn. Ruggy came out of the starting blocks but faded before the last nine holes. Rich fought the rough and The Undertaker was wild off the tee. Each lashed shot was accompanied by a wail of despair. Woods. OB. Fields. The whole was not greater than the sum of its parts. And the ball never did find the hole in regulation.
“Never mind” said The Undertaker, adding up the points. “Saves making a speech and we might win the raffle”.
A large sum of money was raised for charity. Hardly anyone beat the Pro and the cold buffet was washed down with chilled wine, followed by strawberries and cream. The suitable dress fitted and there was room for seconds of strawberries.
“Just finish off with cheese and biscuits” said Big Rich, tucking into the brie and stilton.
The speeches were short and the prize giving was followed by the raffle. We had bought the wrong numbers and would not be taking home the flat screen television.
Gus sent a text.
How did the day go x
It was ok x
So you didn’t win then x
The Undertaker said hello and hopes are feeling ok x
Outside the sun still shone on the patio, moorhens called from the margins of the lake and golfers headed out for their evening round.