There are times when retreat is the only option but no matter how hard you look for it, it cannot be found—
Quite how only-options cease to become any option at all, fits into the realm of being one’s own master, I really couldn’t say. But times will be times…
On occasions such as these then, when options aren’t really options and the only decision to be made is, to like it or lump it, the only recourse is resignation; to accept the notion that things are not, nor are they likely to be on-the-up for the foreseeable future. Whether that future be a couple of hours, three weeks or ten minutes; thirty seconds yesterday, was quite considerable enough for my liking for things not to be on-the-up. For when all that was up was clearly feeling injured at being so ill thought of by those pukers and durrynackers at the Met Office, their recourse was to do nothing but get down. And so it was, they did. And low they must have felt, because down they came, and down and down and down. Those thirty seconds became ten minutes, then a couple of hours, until they made damn-sure it felt like three weeks.
Yesterday was a miserable day– I myself was rather splendid, toffed-up with all the other howling cheeses, knowing full well the weather would not be– quite how removed from dandy though was at the time, a mere speculation. Far from being picture perfect, the sky had a little hoarseness about it, but no clue as to the airs and graces it later let loose. At least once during warm-ups I saw enough blue to make a pair of sailors trousers, so it was more in hope than anything I’d preferred science and those learned chaps in Devon, to dock-whalloping.
It was a golf day, as was the day before, but whereas previously it’d been about practise, learning lines and the lay of the land– yesterday was competition day. I don’t play in those, I’m the caddy. I’m the guy with the numbers; the guy who plays the day before to put some of the course management scenarios to the test. I’m the guy who checks the weather statistics to determine baselines: average wind-speed and potential gusts relative to the passage of play; and whilst there’s no substitute for experience, it’s important to have certain things tucked away in the back-pocket to fall upon when the only guidance is a small red flag fluttering a hundred yards away or the tops of the trees, twenty above and five to the right. In situations like these, the nod to the gods just ain’t pie. To put it in perspective, the percentage between the distance of a short approach to a pin and the desired distance from it once settled, is at most, about 2%. Wind affects the ball considerably which is why we have our baselines and the ability to shape our balls: left to right or right to left. You might very well say that a golfer will dress according to conditions and then rummage from start to finish.
Dealing with strong winds can be a lot like eating claws for breakfast. A ball launched high into the wind will stall but invariably land softly, however this has many woes to consider. In order to get to where you’re going, you need a stronger club; the stronger the club, the harder the shot so greater therefore, is the margin for error. A ball launched lower is more penetrative so it negates the effects of the more majestic, moon-bound ball. However, it is more likely to kick after its initial contact with the ground, bringing landing areas into play and depending on your chips, to which the ball now becomes– the luck of the bounce. But you still want the ball to stop within that 2%. In some respects, the curve related to the impact of wind in relation to the difficulty of controlling distance, when plotted as a distribution of probability, mirrors the trajectory of the shot itself. Golf, played like this can be bollocks. And there was the rain.
Showers and a North-Easterly at 11mph, gusts up to 24. That was what we expected. What we got was a delightful one club wind and clear skies for about twenty minutes. But that was before the botherations. So impertinent we must have been to take the word of the finest meteorologists in the world, that when the rain’d decided to stop fannying about, it also decided to forego the drizzling, preferring something akin to dust-whapping. Indeed, with the right amount of squint, it was perfectly obvious to those of us not already blinded by them, that the droplets bore an uncanny resemblance to skillets. And then there was the wind.
By this time, even the most myopic golfer would’ve been able to hazard a guess as to where the North-East was, as the rain’s hypotenuse was something of a mathematical marvel– so remarkable was it, that Galvin Green ought to consider whether 100% waterproof is merely connotative and the 2% degree of desirability should applied to all facets of golf. The only downside there however, would be a label signifying something’s impenetrable by water, some of the time, to me anyway– lacks pizzazz.
To labour the point here would be to do injustice to the gruesomeness of the next five hours. Any sensible person would agree that to spend any longer than necessary in such conditions would be idiotic, but therein lies one of the quirks of the game. The more foul it is, the longer it generally takes to play. There are the necessary costume changes, the umbrellas, the pointless huddling under the branches of lone saplings; the misguided attempts to lull between holes in the hope that the weather will do the same– by which point, all carefully composed plans are replaced with fuck-yous to the heavens and more of a grip-it and rip-it approach. Finesse becomes futile, and what’s more, so does the caddy.
We start out as invaluable foot-lickers only to find ourselves all a-cock, reduced to sodden dull-swifts, duffered out and sole-spectators to a precision game reduced to clumps and the business of bludgeoning.
Like I said, golf played like this—
But I myself was rather splendid…