Tommy The Cat – Meanest Man In Cwm

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Tommy the Cat saves money with new ‘electric’ trolley system

Last summer the club needed some money. They offered members who had been members 20 years or more a deal –

Annual membership is £600.

The deal they offered was a one off £6000 payment for life long membership. Nothing to pay ever after that.

Tommy the Cat is intrigued. He is 65. He’s not in the best of health, to be fair, with a recent heart op and a gammy leg. Still, it’s something he could easily afford. He is a millionaire with a chain of bakeries in the valleys area and a lot of money in the bank for a variety of ‘projects’.

Tommy decided not to take up the offer.

Me – Why not Tommy?

Tommy – I went to see Dai Doggs, the doctor.

  • Tommy – Dai, tell me straight doc how long do you think I’ll live?
  • Dai – You’ll live for ever you daft, evil bastard.
  • Tommy – Stop pissing around Dai. Tell me seriously, honestly.
  • Dai – Well if I was a betting man I’d say 10 years more or less.
  • Tommy – More or less?
  • Dai – Eh?
  • Tommy – More or less?
  • Dai – Possibly less, I guess

Tommy – So I thought it’s not worth taking the gamble is it?

Tall Tales From Tregethin – 1. Bobby Jones And The Ystrad Mynach Cup

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Dai Rees Lounge, Cwm, Wales
“It was the week before the Ystrad Mynach Cup when I met Bobby Jones first. Bobby Jones – the legend, the man. Probably the greatest golfer in, well, in ever. Here in Tregethin was the man that entered twenty majors, won thirteen and lost seven. Here was the winner of three proper Opens , four yankee Opens, and whatever number is left Amateur Championships. And there he was in the flesh, as sure as I’m sitting here, as close as I am to Dai Copy. Bobby Jones walking down Balaclava Terrace like, you know, like a normal person. Bobby Jones the grand slam amateur winner – an amateur! Well – amateurish. But, wow. Bobby ‘the man’ Jones. He won almost everything. Almost everything.”

Doctor Dai Doggs lifted his pint of Guinness and finished the final third in a long, slow gulp. By the time he had wiped his mouth with his cuff there was another in front of him. It had been bought and delivered by a nameless tourist who walked backward slowly back to the other end of the table awaiting the nod of recognition from Dr. D. Never one to disappoint Dr. D. gave the faintest of head bows and resumed.

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Doctor Dai Doggs lifted his pint

“Although he had won everything in golf, he hadn’t won everything in golf. He hadn’t won the big one. The big prize had eluded him, the hufen de la hufen, the ‘Chair’, if you will, the Ystrad Mynach Cup – the Y. M. C. A unique competition. One of the most unique competitions in the world. It was the tournament, quote, they all loved to win. It is still the one. The thing to have on your mantlepiece or your C.V.. The thing to put on your Wiki page alongside your Nobel prizes, your Pulitzer prizes, your Ballon d’Ors, your Christmas number ones. It’s the Y. M. C.. A number of great golfers have won this prize, and a number of great golfers have not won this prize. You won’t see your Ben Hogans or your Sam Sneads or your Ian Woosnams names on the wall. And I’ll tell you why.”

Dr. Dai Doggs half-swivelled in his chair to point at a wooden mahogany board roughly six feet high and twenty foot long attached to the wall containing a list of all the Ystrad Mynach Cup winners. He drank the first third of his new pint.

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Pensioner Dave – a strange name for a strange person

“Look at the early years and you see some sparkling players from the last but one century and right up to the early years of the last century – the ‘roaring twenties’, as they were known in Wales. There were your great names – your Tom Morrises, your Joyce Wethereds, your Laurie Auchterlonies, your Harry Vardens, your Ted Rays, your Glenna Collett-Vares. But… look at the later years – the swinging seventies, early eighties, naughtical nineties and beyond and you see your Tiger Woodses, your Tom Watsonses, your Bradley Dredges, your Michele Wies, your Inbee Parkses,your Anika Sorenstenses. What you won’t see are your Walter Hagenses, your Henry Cottonses, your Babes Didriksonsses or your Nick Faldosis. This magnificent board behind you reads like a who’s who golfing list of stars, it’s fair to call them that, yes stars, who have won the YMC. A list of the greatest and the good. However, in a way it’s only half a story. It doesn’t tell the story of who the best players were for forty years in the middle of the twentieth century. if you look at the list from the thirties through to the seventies – the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties, you see how domineering one name features. Every year bar one from 1930 to 1970 there is just one name to see. A strange name for a strange person – a name that describes him as well as naming him – ‘Pensioner Dave’. A period of total domination. Well, almost total domination…..

If you look closely at the year 1934 you’ll see that the winner has been scratched out. It could be ‘Pensioner Dave’ or it could be any other name. The traditions of this club uphold the vision of this club –  ’peidiwch â throi o gwmpas’ – never look back. Thus there are no amendments to rules, no updating of golf fees in line with inflation and most definitely no reworking of the winners board. There’s been a debate for many years about that Sunday, 15 July 1934. Some say Pensioner Dave won it and got so excited pointing at his five time champion’s name that he eroded the barely dry paint. Some say Bobby Jones won it and Pensioner Dave rubbed it off in a fury. Some say Virginia Van Wie was so excited after she won the playoff with Reg Whitcombe that she gouged the surface of the board with her name on it and kept it as a memento where it took pride of place in her home in Alaska. (The fact that she retired soon afterwards has somehow been seen by some to add credence to the story). Some say potato some say potato. I know however, what really happened in 1935. I saw it. I was young but I was there.”

………

 

Saturday Morning Golf School On Tour

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EXT. COLD WINTER THURSDAY, CRIEFF GOLF CLUB.

It was Sparky’s first year on the Scotland golf tour. Every two years the SMGS (Saturday Morning Golf School) went to Scotland on the Wales v Scotland international weekend and played golf for a week. The group played a number of golf clubs every day in and around Edinburgh and watched the match on Saturday. Sparky was nervous. He’d been playing golf for a few years but had only encountered the electric, intense Saturday Morning Golf School atmosphere on a few occasions and knew very few people in the group.

It was the first tee at a nameless, but tough and windy proper links course. There were 11 others waiting around the first tee pretending to stretch and wake up and have their last cigarette (of the front nine).
Tommy the Cat (has become the self-appointed leader, and official welcomer)
TOMMY THE CAT
Sparky, as a special honour you get to tee off first.
Very muted applause, some abuse and a general murmur of ‘bandit’.
TOMMY THE CAT
Here you are I’ll even get Dai Proper to tee it up for you.

Dai Proper duly walks onto the tee and stares into the distance.

Sparky shakily places his ball on the tee and mutters to himself

SPARKY
Slow swing…slow swing
His bottom is going like a trout’s mouth as he lifts the club and hits it, not great but straight and quite long. He smiles at Tommy the Cat.
Tommy the Cat smiles back, then turns Sparky around 180 degrees.

TOMMY THE CAT
Well done. Now there’s the first fairway.
He points down the fairway, in the opposite direction to Sparky’s tee shot.

TOMMY THE CAT
I suggest you wander back to your ball and see if you can hit a couple of 5 irons back in this direction.

Introducing Samael Watcher Y.P. -Disciplinary Meeting, ‘The Dai Rees Lounge’, Cwm Golf Club.

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Dai Rees – The Legend who had a lounge named after him

Let me put you in the picture. I am sitting on an ex-crimson old chair crushed against the flock wallpaper of the crappy ‘Dai Rees Committee Room’ at poxy Cwm Rhymney Golf Club. It feels like we’re still in the 1940s. I’m feeling uncomfortable wearing a suit and tie and my head is full of words and words. I’ve endured the Chairman’s verbal report, the Secretary’s verbal report and the verbal report of Dai Dogs (Handicap Sec) standing in for the green keeper who was unable to attend due to his hay fever being particularly troublesome at the moment.

But, beyond all this – Beyond. All. This. Iesu Mawr – I am so bored.
Let me tell you precisely where I am. I’m in the aforementioned crappy ‘Dai Rees Committee Room’ of the aforementioned poxy Cwm poxy Golf poxy Club. – a speck of a village the size of a baby ant’s arse in the north edge of the Ebbw valley in the south east quarter of the south-east quarter of the ancient country ( principality if you’re going to split hairs) of Wales.
Why? Because I’m waiting for my turn.

‘Next item – Flags.’ said Tommy.
There was total silence. The seven attendees dropped their seven heads in one synchronised swoon. The speaker was the President. El Presidente. Tommy the President. Tommy the Pres. Tommy the Cat. Tommy the owner of a chain of, brackets three, count them, one, two, three, bread shops in this region of the northern Ebbw Valley. Tommy the impresario, as he liked to be known, or Tommy the wheeling-dealing, money-grabbing, ‘tight as a duck’s arse’ little shit as he is commonly known when out of earshot and gunshot. Tommy the Cat. So named because a long time ago – a long time ago – he was the more than half decent Cwm goalkeeper. Trials with Brithdir, allegedly. Tommy the Cat. Now, a man universally hated and despised in equal measure. A man of whom his closest friend would say to me a few hours from now –
‘It would be easier really to give you a list of the people who wouldn’t want to kill him. And as his best friend I’d certainly put myself on the ‘I’d rather kill him than not’ list.’

Tommy the Cat was discussing flags. Tommy is a bully. Full stop. A Fatty Aruncle lookalike cliché of a man. Fatty Arbuncle nasty twin brother..

I’m sorry. How rude of me. I haven’t introduced myself. The name is Sam, Samael K. Watcher P.I. Or to be truly bilingual as is the fashion slash law these days – Y.P. Ymchwilydd Preifat.

I’m a fully licensed Ymchwilydd Preifat. and have been for a year or so now. I’m a lone fox, unmarried,young, gifted and poor. I don’t do divorce business. I like whiskey and women and golf and a few other things. I’m a native son, born in Cwm, both parents dead, a pain in the arse sister called Seren. Oh, and there was a decade where I have no memory of anything that happened. It happens – but I’m over that now and like I said I am attending a committee meeting at Cwm Rhymney Golf Club. In a non-professional capacity, I hasten to add. I am here under duress. Well, under compulsion really. I was due to attend the disciplinary element of this surreal cabaret but had wandered in early and been wordlessly directed, by Tommy’s eyes, to sit and observe the whole performance at a discrete distance from the main stage in a shoddy, battered, crappy old chair under the frequently unwashed window at the edge of the ‘Dai Rees lounge’.

I heard the word ‘flags’ again, louder, and awoke from my revere. Is it revere? Or reverie? Is that even a word?………………

 

Adjer Bill

movemarker

In these dark golfing days of penalising professional golfers for moving their ball 2 cms and ‘trial by video’ and blah blah blah, I remember a time when even cheating used to be simpler..

BERWYN:                     Do you remember that guy from Pontnewydd that used to cheat?

PENSIONER DAVE:     Aye. Adjer.

BERWYN:                     I went to school with him.

ANDY:                           Adjer? Why was he called Adjer.

PENSIONER DAVE:     That was his name. He would always put his marker in front of his ball on the green and behind it when he wanted to putt.

ANDY:                          I don’t understand.

DAVE DEMONSTRATES

ANDY:                          Ah I see he was adjing nearer the hole every time.

JOHN:                            Is he still playing at Pontnewydd?

PENSIONER DAVE:     No. Dai Snips sorted him out.

JOHN:                           Big Snipsy? The barber?

PENSIONER DAVE:     Unisex hairdresser if you don’t mind.

ANDY:                           How?

PENSIONER DAVE:     How what?

ANDY:                          How did he sort him out?

PENSIONER DAVE:     Well Adjer marked his ball against Snipsy a few times in a match. You know adjing and adjing and Snipsy is getting more and more wound up, you know. On the 16th he loses it. Adjer has cleaned and marked his ball a couple of times, getting nearer and nearer to the hole each time. Then Adjer picks the ball up again and starts cleaning it. He puts it down again and Snipsy looks at him hard. “Well,“ he says, “that’s close enough now for a gimme Adjer. So pick it up. Pick it up, put it in your pocket and if I see you in this club again I’ll stick the ball, your marker and your putter”…. Well he did tell him where he was going to put his putting equipment but I don’t want to upset a nice young man as you Andy. Anyway Adjer never played in Pontnewydd again.

BERWYN:                     He was always an idiot. As Thick as ……

JOHN:                           (INTERUPTING) … Charon’s ferry boat is with phantoms?

BERWYN:                     No. Is was going to say as thick as shit.

ANDY:                           Well what about him?

BERWYN:                     I saw him in Cardiff last Friday.

PENSIONER DAVE:     What was he doing?

BERWYN:                     Same job. Oh but he’s Chief Inspector Adjer now.

 

Golf Snippets From Mynydd Brawdafad G.C.

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“Il fait froid.” I said…. “It is cold” I explained penetratingly.

“Il fait extremely fucking froid” trumped Pensioner Steve.

“Maen o’er!” I added frostily for no sensible reason I could think of.

We were waiting on the wintry, first tee as Dai Proper and Dai Copy (twins) were completing their frozen first nine holes and wandering past us.

“Cold enough for you?”, trited Pensioner Steve

“Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey”, further trited Fred the Bread, icily.

“It’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a pool table”, even more numbing tritefulness from Pensioner Steve.

“It’s nobbling. It is.” Said Dai Proper, a man of gelid reserve,  in passing.

“It’s as cold as my mother in law’s love.” I quipped bitterly. Silence.

Dai Copy was very very nobbling. He cough, sneezed and shivered glacially past us complaining to Dai Proper (twin), “The trouble with this club Dai. The trouble with this club is the weather. Everyone moans about it. All of us members moan about it, but nobody ever does a fucking thing about it.”

We looked.We waited for the quartet to glide past us.
“Well.”

“Get on with it.”

We got on with it. We played. We moaned and not one of the committee did a thing about it.

Mynydd Brawdafad Golf Club

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David Lloyd George with guests (including original cast members of Pobol Y Cwm and the Likely Lads) at the initial Captain’s drive in ceremony – note club had affiliation with Llanfrechfa fishing club and president on right is carrying the ceremonial rod

Brawdafad is a tough course, in a tough part of the world. The land was bought in early 1921 (year of the acquittal of Harold Greenwood, birth of Dick Francis, 6-5 win for Wales rugby team in Paris) and a few short weeks later was opened. A report from the local newspaper makes fascinating reading;

“At the opening ceremony Captain Mr. P. Dave asked Dr Gwyn T. Bara, Chairman of the club to declare the course open. Dr Bara, their enthusiastic and highly efficient chairman was presented with a wonderful weapon, a golf driver, with which to drive a mighty ball from the first tee (laughter and applause). He thanked the lady and gentlemen of the committee for honouring him by asking him to open the course. He referred to the early beginnings of the club and its uphill struggles and said that were it not for the generosity of a local businessman, Mr. D. S. Snips (snr.) of Aber Annwyd the club would never have reached its present state (enthusiastic applause).

Dr Gwyn T. Bara explained that the situation reminded him of a remark Mr Ramsay Macdonald, the ex-premier made that ‘Golf is to me what his Sabine farm was to the poet Horace – a solace and an inspiration.’ (embarrassed silence). Dr Bara duly took the first hit on the course and hooked it through the clubhouse window.” The first club captain David Lloyd George then took over proceedings and in his own words “It’s time to get the party started”.

Brawdaf and Annwyd Valley Express Monday June 27th 1921

The club was bombed during the Second World War by a rather wayward squadron of German bomber. It was reported after the war that with all the bomb damage the course had never looked better.

It is a mountain course. It is rough and rugged and sheep-lined. It must be pretty much how many early Scottish courses looked. However, not many early Scottish courses were built alongside council estates. There is a scarcity of land at Brawdafad and every inch of the ground is used. It feels like someone has placed a full size snooker table in a small lounge. Each tee seems to be against a fence and at times it seems that you’ve barely enough room to take a full backswing.

The rough is very rough. Pensioner Dave once sliced a drive into the rough off the sixth tee and against all our advice went chasing after it. He disappeared from view for a good few minutes. Feeling slightly anxious we called out to him;

“Pensioner Dave have you found your ball?” we called.
“Not yet,” came the reply, “But I have found a golf bag and a set of clubs.”

Extract from Collection of golf articles – ‘Putting is a Form of Self-Torture’ now available – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Putting-Form-Self-Torture-Collection-Articles/dp/1533538247/

 

Preferred Lies – Tales from Tregethin Golf and Country Club

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Bobby Jones and the Ystrad Mynach Cup

“It was during a practice round for the Ystrad Mynach Cup that I first met Bobby Jones. Bobby Jones – the lege, the man. Probably the greatest golfer in, well, …. in ever. Here is the man that entered 20 majors and won 13 of them. Here’s the winner of 3 Opens Championships, 4 US Open Championships, 5 US Amateur Championships and the British Amateur Championship. He was the winner of the impossible ‘Grand Slam’, winning each of these championships in the same year – as an amateur! Well – amateurish. But, wow. Bobby ‘the man’ Jones. Here in Tregethin.”

Dr Dai Dogs, President of Tregethin Golf and Country Club was holding court. His face had been frequently compared, not unkindly, to a ripped dap. His hair was … disturbed. He looked exactly as he lived. The sad grey eyes had seen 87 hard years of grief and despair as a golfer, greyhound trainer and doctor in Tregethin. Dai Dogs fully understood the twin emotions of grief and despair as he was required to mete them out on a regular basis. There was a reason he was not nicknamed after his doctoring or golfing abilities. He was a good story teller though, and the expectant crowd were sitting at his feet – semi-metaphorically, of course. Most of them were seated at a large, and exponentially growing, mismatch of tables and chairs on the far side of the Dai Rees lounge looking out over the eighteenth hole of Tregethin Golf and Country Club.

Dr Dai Dogs sipped his beer, “I think I first met him in ’36 I believe. Yes, it must have been because I had combined the surgery and the kennels in ’35. I remember thinking – Wow, Bobby Jones. Although he had won all these events there was one tournament that had eluded him. This was the crème de la crème, the icing on the cake, the Ystrad Mynach Cup – the Y. M.C. A superb competition with a history, surpassed by many, but as unique as many unique big tournaments. The history of it was quite interesting, But, it wasn’t the fascinating, untellable history that was the attraction. It was the tournament ‘they all loved to win’. The tournament that separated the men and the women, from the boys and the girls. It was the thing to have on your CV. The Nobel prize, the Pulitzer prize.  of golf, the Ballon d’Or, the Jnanpith Award, the Christmas number one. Yes – the Y M C. A number of great golfers have won this prize, and a number of great golfers have not won this prize. This may seem a surprise to people – but there is a good reason. The winners including some sparkling players in the roaring 20s – Joyce Wethered, Tom Morris senior, Walter Hagen, Glenna Collett-Vare. The clubhouse wall in Tregethin Golf and Country Club, reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ golfing list of people who have won the YMC. A list of the great and the best. It  reads like a list of great players that have won the greatest golf tournament in the world. And you would be right. However, if you look at that list from 1940 to the present day – we’re in 1947 at present” he reminded people, “you don’t see your Sam Sneads, your Ben Hogans, your Patty Bergs, your Gene Sarazens and your Francis Ouimets. No. You see one name. A strange name for a strange person – a name that describes him as well as naming him – ‘Pensioner Steve’.”

He paused to take a new pint from Dai Snips. Snipsy had rushed to the bar and back to ensure Dogs was sufficiently lubricated. Dogs drank thirstily and continued.

“Granted, 1939 is a blank space on the wall – due to the war”, he again reminded people. “However, the past 6 years have seen the name ‘Pensioner Steve’. ‘Pensioner Steve’. ‘Pensioner Steve’. ‘Pensioner Steve’. ‘Pensioner Steve’. ‘Pensioner Steve’.  Why? you ask. Well, following the 1939 cancellation a delegation was sent to Berlin to ask for, and get, special dispensation for the introduction of a non-bombing zone around the whole of Tregethin, not just the club and practice areas. With the ‘Dai Rees – Tregethin airport’ staying open this allowed golfers from all sides and all countries to get to the club to practice during the week and compete on the third Sunday in July. This proved satisfactory, as all the armies, obviously, released their best players for the occasion. So, we had the scenario of your Sam Sneads, your Ben Hogans, your Patty Bergs, your Walter Hagens, Martin Kaymers seniors and your Bernard Langers all competing together.”

He paused to think, looking out of the slightly grubby window and remembering, with a hint of a tear in his eye. Word had got around and there were people standing, quietly, filling every available space in the Dai Rees lounge and spilling over into the corridor and changing rooms.  Dai Dogs looked around, finished his beer, took another full pint from an unknown, unidentifiable arm and moved on.

“How Pensioner Steve came to be the undefeatable champion is a funny story, and one I am finally allowed to tell. But first a little background on Pensioner Steve. Pensioner Steve is his real name – unlike some of the others and their pretend names – Bobby Jones was originally Robert Tyre Jones. Ben Hogan was Benjamin Haganeski, Sam Snead was Salaman Rushdie, Byron Nelson was Barbara Streisand and so on and so forth. No, Pensioner Steve was always Pensioner Steve from that fateful, indeterminate day he was born. Pensioner Steve grew up as a decent enough golfer. However, there are two sides to every coin and it is the side of the coin that has one side that tells the story of Pensioner Steve. On the head side, he was a good player, on the tail side he was a better player. The difference? The coin itself. In a way. He was a different person with a scorecard, a head, in his hand – than with a 10-shilling note, a tail.” The doctor waited for the crowd to work this out. Then he helped. “He was virtually unbeatable when playing for money but useless when the handicap secretary was around or playing on the intensely Christian, financially useless, Welsh Baptist Sabbath or playing a handicap-counting competition. So, it was unsurprising that Pensioner Steve never entered and competition. He had 2 reasons for playing golf – coins and notes. Both were unavailable in this god forsaken bible-bashing Bethesda belt of Tregethin.”

Dr Dogs didn’t pause.

“On the morning of the third Sabbath of the seventh month in the year of our lord 1940 Pensioner Steve was drinking in the members’ lounge (officially a German Presbyterian zone, as agreed during the negotiations of ’39 I mentioned earlier). He was sitting and drinking with Sir Tom Jones – former Chairman and Organiser of the Rules Committee. Sir Tom buys Pensioner Steve a drink. Under the 1939 terms of agreement drink was allowed, as was smoking. Gambling or mention of the Church was expressly forbidden – obviously.  Sir Jones asked Pensioner Steve why he wasn’t playing in the competition. Pensioner Steve replied wearily that there’s no real point playing as the prize money is extremely poor, and still is – 100 pfennigs went nowhere in the 1940s – and there was no way to supplement the winnings it being Sunday and betting very banned.

Sir Tom smiled and pondered. He had heard rumours of Pensioner Steve’s prowess but had never seen him due to his (Sir Tom’s) career suddenly taking off and him (Sir Tom again) becoming, in effect, the titular Chairman only. On his travels, young Sir Tom had played a great deal of golf in America and he was keen to see Pensioner Steve slugging it out with Sir Tom’s friend – the young up and coming Gene Sarazen.

‘I tell you what’, grinned the slightly inebriated Sir Tom, ‘I’ll allow betting this once. Just this one-time mind you, as long as you enter.’ Pensioner Steve looked at him questionably. ‘I know what you’re thinking, Pensioner Steve, said Sir Tom Jones, but I assure you that legally this is something I can do. Something I must do. As you know I was heavily involved in the 1939 negotiations and as a reward, which I never thought I would use, it was writing into the agreement that I could overrule all current and future legislation on one occasion such as this. I refused to accept this honour several times but you know what,’ said Sir Tom, ‘I’m glad I accepted it now’.

Pensioner Steve thought. Pensioner Steve spoke, ‘Is it a medal competition?’. Sir Tom nodded and the game was nearly afoot.

‘Let’s have it in writing.’ said the ever-mistrusting Pensioner Steve and with a flourish Sir Tom produced a legal pad from his coat pocket and signed a local law then and pretty much there permitting betting from 6:58 a.m. (the time it currently was). The law was quickly ratified by the Clerk of the court, Chief Justice Llewellyn Ap Davies, who was in the members lounge and a local civil servant – Brenda Gwyneth Rees-Griffiths. Pensioner Steve shook Sir Thomas’ hand in that slightly sly little way he has and the game was really afoot.

‘I’ll rescind this law a soon as I get back in,’ announced Sir Tom O’Ponty as he moved swiftly toward through the lounge door toward the first tee to officially hit the first drive and start the competition.

And so, it came to pass that Pensioner Steve playing with the up and coming friend of Sir Thomas Jones, Gene Sarazen, won the competition by 3 shots. He had a remarkable round and in the process landed a fair number of wagers with various American and other International spectators.

Sir Tom enjoyed the day and the excitement greatly. Too greatly in fact and collapsed on the 18th green as Pensioner Steve holed his bunker shot for a course record 65.

The law was never rescinded and Pensioner Steve bets to his evil heart’s delight on this one special Sunday of the year. You would feel there would be no market in it. Such is life – there are always people to bet against – The hopeful, the foolish, the young, the old, the dreamers, especially at the odds offered by Pensioner Steve. As one of the competitors in last year’s Saturday pro-am famously said, ‘Never give a sucker an even break.’ This was of course WC Fields – a frequent visitor to the club and winner of the 1925 Saturday pro-am alongside a very, very young Walter Hagen.”

Dai Doggs stopped. He finished his drink, “And this, on my soul, is how this day came into being.”

He stood up and said, “I’ve got to go back to my surgery now to attend to the curs but if you’re here tomorrow I’ll tell you about Bobby Jones’ build up to this year’s tournament and reveal a few more secrets.”

He flounced out back to his surgery.

End of Part 1

 

Random Golf Conversations – Albert

Albert and playing partner contemplating going out for the first doubles match of the Winter

EXT.   COLD AUTUMN WEDNESDAY, MYNYDD BRAWDAFAD GOLF CLUB

2 forlorn figures standing on the 132 yard, par 3, 13th.

Albert, a youngster of 48 takes out a 5 iron and swings it ferociously throughout the conversation. There is no wind.
Barry, a 52 year old writer looks on amazed.

BARRY
You know this is only 132 yards?

ALBERT
I do.

BARRY
You know you hit that 5 iron 160 yards on the last hole?

ALBERT
I do.

BARRY
So. Why?

ALBERT
I don’t want to take any chances.

BARRY
Take any chances on what?

ALBERT
On getting it into the hole.

BARRY
But that’s the point, isn’t it?

ALBERT
I never aim at the hole on par 3s on Wednesdays

BARRY
Why?

ALBERT
In case I get a hole in 1

BARRY
?

ALBERT
I don’t want to buy a round

BARRY
It’s Wednesday afternoon. By the time we get into the club there’ll only by 3 people there, including us

ALBERT
I know but Jimmy Pies will be there

BARRY
So

ALBERT
I’m not buying him a drink

BARRY
So you’d rather take 3 more clubs than you need on a hole you’ve never managed to get within 5 feet of in your life because there’s a bloke who may be in the club when you get back you won’t buy a drink for?

ALBERT
Correct

Albert smiles as his tee shot lands 20 yards behind the pin.

*****

EXT.   COLD WINTER THURSDAY, CRIEFF GOLF CLUB.

It was Albert’s first year on the Scotland golf tour. Every 2 years the SMGS went to Scotland on the Wales v Scotland international weekend and played golf for a week, They played a number of golf clubs every day in and around Edinburgh and watched the match on Saturday. Albert was nervous. He’d been playing golf for a few years but had only encountered the electric, intense Saturday Morning Golf Society atmosphere on a few occasions and knew very few people in the group.

It was the first tee at a nameless, but tough and windy proper links course. There were 12 waiting around the first tee pretending to stretch and wake up and have their last cigarette (of the front nine).
Dev (has become the self appointed leader, and welcomer)

DEV
Albert. As a special honour you get to tee off first

Very muted applause, some abuse and a general murmur of ‘bandit’.

DEV
Here you are I’ll even put your tee in the ground for you and line you up. It’s tradition

Albert walks onto the tee and stares into the distance. He shakily places his ball on the tee and mutters to himself

ALBERT
Slow swing…slow swing

His bottom is going like a trout’s mouth as he lifts the club and hits it, not great but straight and quite long. He smiles at Dev.

Dev smiles back, turns Albert around 180 degrees

DEV
Well done. Now there’s the first fairway

He points down the fairway, in the opposite direction to Albert’s tee shot,

DEV
I suggest you wander back to your ball and see if you can hit a couple of 5 irons back in this direction

Off The Beaten Track – West Mon G C … continued

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Act 2:  “Look Ma – top of the world!” (“Edrych ma – ben y byd!”)

Before we began the round I went to the clubhouse to talk to a few people. I was shown the visitors book. I was amazed to see the range of people who had taken the time to write in it after playing the course;

I was not surprised that local hero, Bradley Dredge (my mother knows his mother, you know) had written in it, or John Daly. I was quite surprised that Hollywood legends like James Cagney, Judy Garland and rock stars like Morrissey had also contributed. I decided to write these quotes on a piece of paper and use them to motivate my colleagues as we played the back nine.

 We were on the 10th tee when I read my first quote from the visitor’s book;

“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting.” – Bradley Dredge

 They were impressed. Almost moved to tears but they managed to hide it well behind sarcasm and scorn.

 We moved onwards and upward. Upwards, ever upwards.

The 10th was a long par 3. In the match between Andy and Pensioner Dave versus myself and Brother John, we were 3 up. Pensioner Dave was sulking. John had won practically all the holes for us. I was mainly being used to read the yardage on the signs, point John towards the green and keep score.

“I don’t mind losing,” lied Pensioner Dave, “but I hate when we lose to just one person.” A remark aimed at me.

“It takes a big man, with no ego to play as badly as I do.” I explained, “I’m motivating my partner.”

This seemed to be amusing to the others.

West Mon is a rough, ragged course. The fairways are sheep-lined like a scene from the mountain stages of the Tour de France and just as sparse. It’s a traditional South Wales valley course, with a typical South Wales valley mentality. It’s harsh, unforgiving and proud of it.

I tried to keep the spirits up with another entry from the visitors’ book;

“Great  God! This is an awful place” – Captain R. F. Scott, explorer, scratch golfer refering to the climb from 13th to 14th tee.

 We halved the 11th and 12th moving higher and higher. Colder and colder. The air thinner and thiner. It played tricks with our minds. I imagined I made a putt. I did. We were now 3 up. No one cared any more.

At the base camp just below the 12th we rested. Preparing for the final push. We sit in silence consuming our meagre rations. I ask what the scores are. There is silence. I understand. It’s all about survival now.

 The wind wasn’t blowing so much either . Presumably because we had worked our way through the tropopause  and were now entering the stratosphere. We didn’t mind. It wasn’t quite so cold. In fact the higher we rose the warmer it became, which was unusual – “getting closer to the sun” Andy reasoned. We nodded. We just wanted it to be over. One way or another.

 We moved to the tee of the 13th. The  infamous  ‘Morning Star ‘. A vertical 484 yard par 4 up and across the mountain against the wind –  “It’s always against the wind”,  the locals informed me.

John Daly described how he played it in the visitor book ;

“I creamed a driver, mullered 2 three woods and still ended up 20 yards short of the green. ”

We paused on the tee for reflection and to remember those who had gone before.  We looked around. To the untrained eye the course looks like a Welshman just went out one day with 18 brightly coloured flags and placed them around the mountain at random intervals. This isn’t entirely true – He was Scottish.

He was a juggler, professional acrobat, golf ball maker, 5 feet 3 inches tall, golf professional, twice Open championship runner up, caddy, golf instructor to the Prince of Wales and Princess Victoria, exporter, factory owner and golf course architect. All of this is true.  His name was Ben Sayers. Born in Leith, Scotland.  In 1906 he designed the West Mon course. The terrain must have been familiar to him brought up on the links courses of Scotland. West Mon has the feel of a traditional Scottish links course, without references to the sea.  It’s windswept, sparse on vegetation and generally left to nature to manage.  The only thing missing from a links course is the sea. The sea is a long way from the top of Mynydd Carn-y-Cefn.

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Back to West Mon. 17,000 feet above clubhouse level and getting higher as we struggle up the 13th past oxygen tanks, skulls, tattered flags, eventually reaching the green. We were low on food, oxygen, golf balls and humour. Remarkably the green is difficult and sloping. Come on. If you are going to hit 6 three woods to the green you want a flat putt. We putt out eventually with a combined score approaching Pensioner Dave’s age.

We see it; “The highest tee in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

The tee is 1500 feet above sea level. It feels as if they missed a few zeroes from that figure. There are spectacular views of the Brecon Beacons to the north with the Sugarloaf mountain to the east.

“You can see Ebbw Vale if you look west” I read.

“Why would I?” replied John.

I had no answer. We look down the mountain.

“Look ma! Top of the world.” I read without much enthusiasm. Then I quote from the visitor’s book entry from Judy Garland, American golfer, actress and singer, handicap 17 ;  “It’s lonely and cold at the top…. Lonely and cold”

 We silently nod. We hit our tee shots. It’s the first time ever Pensioner Dave has hit a drive approaching 200 yards.

On the way down the mood lifts. We become buoyant, energised. We laugh and move down. Down. Down. Conducting our post mortem on the course;

“I like it” announces Pensioner Dave, ever the traditionalist, “hit it – find it – hit it again”.  He’s a man of simple pleasures. It’s easy to imagine him and Ben Sayers having a ten second conversation on the design of the course.

On the 17th we see a man on the women’s tee. He is  crouched over his ball going through his elaborate pre shot preparation.  As we pass Pensioner Dave has to interfere;

“Stop” he shouts, “You’re playing off the women’s tee.”

The man backs off, looks at Pensioner Dave and goes back to his elaborate pre shot preparation.

Pensioner Dave starts walking quickly toward him, “Wait. You’re playing off the women’s tee. The men’s is 10 yards behind you.”

The man stopped again. He walked toward Pensioner Dave and said something to him.

Pensioner Dave turned around and walked back to us in total silence. The man hit his shot and walked unenthusiastically after it.

We asked Pensioner Dave what the man had said to him;

“He told me to shut up and to let him play his second shot in peace.”

Approaching the end of the round it’s back to reality.  There ares a number of relatively flat holes as we approach civilization and the short, squat, functional clubhouse. It’s been tough. It’s been fun.

We chat in the bar to a few members.  The main topic of conversation is finance and how to keep clubs going these days. The club is a survivor.  There is a community there. The social events held in the clubhouse and function room help a great deal these days. It’s still about the golf though. The members are a tough breed out in most weathers braving the elements.

“We don’t get too many visitors,” one of them tells us. He continues, “We don’t get a lot of passing trade.”

The club carries on. There is a community there. The social events held in the clubhouse and function room help a great deal these days. It’s still about the golf though. The members are a tough breed out in most weathers braving the elements.

I’m sure we’ll be back there some summer – once  we’ve thawed out.

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