During the first lockdown, I signed on as a friendship volunteer for a health charity called Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland. As applied with charities the world over, the organisation was looking for volunteers to chat with people who are on their own and confined to home.
Having missed out at the first time of asking by making a hash of the paperwork, I’m hoping to get started this time around. In the meantime, I have been going along with that old cliché about charity beginning at home by fielding calls from golfing relatives who have been missing their post-round chats in the bar. Not too many days ago, a sister wanted to tell of how she had reached the semi-finals of her club’s handicap foursomes, while three male relatives have been providing regular updates on matches won and lost.
... the tour players did not recognise all at once that hole-by-hole accounts were no longer acceptable.
Their accounts have at times reminded me of days on tour when professionals were encouraged to give a hole-by-hole account of their better rounds. Indeed, old-school journalists would demand full details of clubs hit to all 18 greens, along with the length of putts holed and missed. That all changed before the start of this latest century when sports editors suddenly started calling for a story which would make sense to rather more than the connoisseurs. It was no longer enough to tell of a 5-iron hit quail-high to some distant green unless, of course, it was hugely significant. Like, say, Tiger Woods’ chip-in at the 16th in the 2005 Masters, or Paula Creamer’s 75-foot putt to win the 2014 HSBC Women’s Championship in Singapore. No less of a headline-maker was the wayward drive with which Sergio García knocked a diamond out of a spectator’s ring in the 2014 Bridgestone Invitational. (Trust Sergio!)
In much the same way as no-one is ever entirely sure on what date a word or phrase suddenly becomes politically incorrect, so the tour players did not recognise all at once that hole-by-hole accounts were no longer acceptable.
My way of dealing with this change of emphasis was to get in first with a cheerful request that whoever it was should talk me through his/her favourite hole. Adam Scott, I think, was among the wary, and I’m pretty sure that he was the one who asked, with a grin, if he could have two favourite holes. Adam being Adam, of course he could.
Since speed, at least for the moment, is hardly of the essence, I have desisted from coming up with the same “favourite hole” request to relatives. Tempting though it might be on occasion, it wouldn’t exactly be charitable.