Saturday, June 28, 2008

Greystones – Captain’s Day

So, the biggest day of the year at Greystones Golf Club and it was raining. Heavily. Bucketing. I haven’t missed a Captain’s Day in many years and, by happy coincidence, I had just finished my trip to Clare and Galway so I was able to get on the timesheet – thanks to my dad, who I was down to play with.

I have the ‘luxury’ of the camper van to change in, so while I put on my waterproofs in the dry I watched a couple of members trying to huddle under their boots as they slipped on their rain gear. Our Captain, Pat Barry, was making light of the rain, but ‘light’ was not a word that came to mind.

I encountered a problem immediately: at the beginning of May I played in an open competition at Athy and had 39 points. That saw me cut to 6, but their computer system was down so I have been chasing Athy to send on the card to Greystones to make it official. They have ignored my requests and so the system still has me down as 7. Not an easy one to get around, since the rules have now changed and it is up to the individual to ensure the correct handicap is on the card. I put 6 in the little white box.

So dad and I went out and played turtle golf – you know the kind: you drop your umbrella, stick your head out just long enough to hit your shot and hope that rain doesn’t run down the back of your neck, before trying to squeeze your head down inside your shoulders. Turtle golf. And for 15 holes it never stopped. After 9 holes you come back to the car park and it was obvious that several groups were calling it a day. The poor volunteers who have a table of drinks and chocolate on the walk between the two 9s were not looking happy. I don’t think anyone was happy. At least not until we got to the 6th green (our 15th hole) and our Pro, Karl, came driving by in a buggy to tell us the competition was a washout. Water had started settling on the greens so the day was over. It's one of those funny things about living in the country - I moved to Camolin from suburbia four years ago and I had no reason to like the rain, but now that we have vegetables growing, an orchard and a fruit cage, every time it rains in the summer (within reason) it is reason to rejoice. Back in the clubhouse there was a sense of relief but I felt very sorry for our Captain. June 21st, the longest day of the year, and it rained the entire day. Turns out that the main event is to be postponed for one week. And it so happened that I would still around on the 28th, so I got another crack at it.

Now one of the big debates at Greystones and, indeed, many clubs around the country, is the increased speed of the greens for the big prize. At Greystones the greens are ironed especially for the day and they are like lightening. Last week, despite the non-stop rain, the greens were still quick. Today they were going to be quicker still. I, for one, have never had a problem with this change as I always lag my putts and it plays into my hands, but it does seem a bit odd to have these beautiful, slick greens on just one day. Why not make them fast for the Medal competitions as well? Or for a couple of weeks before the Captain’s Day, and let people get used to the new speeds? But that of course is the whole point, and explains why the winning score tends to be in the high thirties or low forties. Unfortunately it rarely dips as low as the mid twenties, which was where I ended up after my stunningly variable round of golf today. Putting was great, but getting to the green was a bit problematic (and three points out of a possible 10 on the par threes is never good). Dad wasn’t a whole lot better, but he had two perfect bunker saves from long range, and that’s got to put a smile on your face when you play off 16. The third member of our group is a friend of mine, Ronan, who wasn’t hitting the ball well and didn’t adjust to the speed of the greens until our 14th (Greystones’ notorious 5th), when he sank a huge swinging putt for a birdie two (that's a few quid right there). He repeated the feat a few holes later and ended up with 33 points. On Captain’s Day that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Greystones on Captain’s Day always looks spectacular and today was no different. Fairways look glorious and I’ve already covered off the greens. There’s a great atmosphere and it was good to catch up with the many folks I know. I’ve only been back to Greystones once since October last year so it my only little slice of homecoming.

Check out the papers in the next few days to see what score wins it. I’m guessing 40/41.

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