Dial-A-Smile gives Vinny something to think about
When the final putt was holed, the cards signed, and the clubs flung in the rear of Fran’s shiny new Passat, Vinny Fitzpatrick took a wistful glance back across the fine links of Laytown Bettystown, and puffed out his jowls in relief.
“Thank God, that torment is over for another year,” he said to himself.The anguish of the previous four and a half hours was reflected in his score of 111, a Nelson in cricket, which prompted a wry smile on Vinny’s lugubrious features as even Lord Horatio himself, with his one arm, one eye and one lump of sugar in his tea, would probably have fared better.
Vinny had never mastered the format of strokeplay golf and was grateful that the dishonourable company of the Soiled and Ancient, otherwise known as Foley’s Golf Society, only insisted on one such outing per year.
A motion to remove the strokeplay system, which Vinny supported, had been narrowly defeated at the recent agm where Charlie St John Vernon, using his casting vote as incoming captain, insisted the ‘Quo Vadis’ should remain in place – Charlie had a masterful way with malapropisms.
“Keeping a record of every shot you play is the truest form of the noble art. The scorecard is the ultimate arbiter and it never lies,” intoned Charlie with an earnestness that belied his society handicap of 31. Over a reviving post-round fry-up the lads reflected on the difficulties imposed on the hacker when every shot counted.
Fran had reason to feel more aggrieved than most as he was motoring along smoothly until he plugged his approach on the 17th into a bunker and, after foregoing the option to take a penalty drop, had indulged in a spot of earth-moving and sand-blasting that turned the air blue and left his card in tatters.
“If we were playing the Stableford format, I could have picked up my ball after a few whacks, kept my dignity and my chances of a prize intact. Instead, I had to hole a nasty three-footer for a nine. It’s a joke,” he thundered.
Vinny had understood his friend’s frustration, particularly as he’d taken the long walk back to the tee on the 11th to reload after losing one of his bright yellow Pinnacles.
It had added 350 yards to his day’s hike and prompted giggles from a threeball on a neighbouring fairway.
“Keep her lit Vinny, don’t hold us up now,” mocked Dial-A-Smile, the supercilious head barman from Foley’s who moved far quicker between shots than he ever did between the pumps.
Brennie, who had got up and down from the whins on the last to break 100, wondered if ball spotters might speed things up. “Failing that, perhaps we should be allowed a number of Mulligans, like the ones Bill Clinton was famous for.”
Passion for golf
That the former US president was renowned for his “Billigans” as much as for anything he did during office, reminded Vinny of the passion so many occupants of the White House had for golf. He’d read somewhere that 15 of the last 18 US Presidents all played the game, to various degrees of ability. Even Barack Obama was in on the act, enjoying a round with Tiger Woods, no less. According to high-profile coach Butch Harmon, Obama had played golf like it should be played and actually counted all his shots.