Vinny lends a crucial helping hand at the spiritual home of Irish golf

Six hours caddying for his pall ensures a pleasant and profitable day at the famed Portmarnock course

Wed, Jun 18, 2014, 12:00

Instantly, Charlie turned to his playing partners with a clenched fist and a half-stifled yell of satisfaction, without realising his ball hadn’t come to rest.

As Vinny coughed politely and pointed to the green, Charlie watched in horror as his ball, slowly at first, and then with gathering pace, ran back down the face of the Eiger before coming to rest fully 40 yards from the pin.

Charlie’s woe wasn’t over as he fluffed three chips and didn’t even get to putt. In anger, he swished his errant Top Flite into the whins, while muttering darkly under his breath.

As he dutifully placed the flag back in the cup, Vinny couldn’t but snigger to himself for he knew Portmarnock would have chewed him up too.

Instead, he got to see the trials of others, safe in the knowledge that he wasn’t going to lose his temper, and several balls. As a plus, he was being paid for his services.

Vinny kept a keen eye on the fourball and was aware that Charlie and his partner, were all square coming up the last, a demanding par-four played to a raised green.

After tee shots were sprayed left and right, and balls hacked hither and thither, Charlie was presented with a golden opportunity to win the hole after his brassie approach finished just short of the apron in two.

With the pin to rear of a virgin green, Charlie turned to Vinny and called for his pitching wedge. He then proceeded to take two practise swings, both of which churned up divots.

Fluffed chip

For the first time all day, Vinny broke his vow of silence. “I think the putter is yer only man here, Charlie,” he suggested. Charlie broke away from his pre-shot waggle and stared at Vinny.

“Convince me, you’ve got five seconds,” he growled.

Vinny rushed in. “The best either of your opponents can do is a six. Three putts from here and the match is yours. A fluffed chip and you open the door. Play the percentages Charlie, not the ego shot.”

Charlie Vernon paused. He looked towards the pin, back at his ball, and then at Vinny again. “You’d better be right,” he said quietly, handing back his wedge in exchange for his blade.

A few moments later, the deed was done, hands were shaken and caps doffed. “But for “Fluff” Vinny here, I risked making a right cobblers of my chip and blowing the match,” laughed Charlie, as he clasped an arm around the shoulders of his caddy.

“Vinny, you go on ahead to Foley’s. I’ll catch up with you at half-time in the Germany-Portugal game. Open up a tab. The drinks are on me.”

For such invites, Vinny Fitzpatrick needed little persuasion, especially when he had already pocketed a €20 win bonus on top of his €20 caddy fee. Grinning as he entered Foley’s, he caught Dial-A-Smile’s eye. “Make mine a pint,” he said aloud. Needless to say, it was the first of many.

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