Creating a Christmas storm on the first tee

At what what stage in life do you realise you have become a cross between Scrooge and the Grinch trying to steal Christmas?

I found out on the first tee at my club Marton Meadows (in Cheshire and in between Macclesfield and Congleton) when determined to be part of the winning team in our festive Texas Scramble.

The odds were long because (a) it is a scratch competition and I am a long handicapper and (b) even though usually a slow starter I have kicked a warm-up into touch in favour of good company plus free mince pies and coffee.

I notice one of the pros, Mike Green, has recruited his young daughter, Missy, to operate a machine which blows fake snow over every player in the field driving off the first tee.

Stepping on to the tee, I give her one of my most polite, if meaningful, looks and say: “I definitely do not want that, Missy.”

On the tee at Marton Meadows . . . James Woby

It is possible you can guess what happened next. Doubtless, on her father’s orders, the machine goes on full blast the instant my downswing starts and my hook clatters into a tree. It’s difficult to raise even a faint smile when you are putting a brave face on inner fury but I think I managed it.

When my playing partners follow me on to the tee, one of them says pointedly they don’t mind the machine being switched on and I would have been fine with that had any of us managed to hit the green on a par three and had we not signed for a double bogey.

But hey ho, it’s only a game, everybody else thought it was funny and, after all, it is Christmas. If we never threatened the prize table then at least on the way round we had good craic and interesting conversation.

Still, a tadge miffed about it though when I get home and tell my wife. “Aw,” she said.  Actually, that was an elongated “awww . . .”

This encouraged me to think sympathy was imminent. Good. At least somebody is on my sIde here. “Awww, I really wish I had been there to see that”, she said before laughing out loud.

Perhaps more mature years have led to self-awareness retreating somewhere south of that belonging to Donald Trump.

Perhaps we all need to get our laughs where we can in this most spitefully gruesome of years. As the Queen once put it, an “annus horribilis”.

That was in 1992 a year wrecked for her majesty by the collapse of three of her children’s marriages – including Prince Charles’ marriage to Princess Diana – and a fire that gutted Windsor Castle.

Anyway, back to golf. Being fazed by a fake snowstorm (OK. OK. I know. I should get a life) has made me think of my favourite Christmas golf comp.

That takes me back to when I was a member of Slaley Hall in Northumberland before leaving the North East and returning to the North West three years ago.

The Slaley members Christmas comp that year combined fun with a competitive element in that we all brought along a Christmas present worth a tenner for the prize table and the higher you finished, the more choice you had in terms of selecting your prize.

Anyway this was 2020 and the most important cold hard fact to place on record about the Marton Meadows Christmas comp was that they were all over the track and trace system in terms of ensuring the staff had up to date contact details of every player in the field, even asking their members to fill in the form.

A sign of the times? Of course. But it won’t be forever. Happy Christmas one and all. Even you, Missy.

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