Friday, August 8, 2008

Standing at Attention

In 2000, “Dal Riadans” made their first trip to the golfing Mecca of St Andrews. After an ignominious arrival in Edinburgh finding that our clubs had not traveled with us from Gatwick Airport, we settled in for a several days stay in a small hotel in St Andrews. It was here that we discovered just how much smaller showers are constructed in the United Kingdom. At breakfast, after our first night’s rest, one of our larger members related his dismay with the shower facilities. “We couldn’t figure out how to turn on the shower. We turned the handles but nothing happened. Finally we discovered there was an electrical switch on the wall that activated the shower. Then when I got in the shower and got lathered up, I dropped the soap. The shower stall was so small I had to open the door and get out of the shower to pick up the soap that I had dropped”!

After an unsuccessful attempt to access our group onto the “Old Course” by way of the ballot, we were able to play the “Jubilee Course” another one of St Andrew’s courses which few would play if the course were not located in St Andrews. By this time some of the group had become disgruntled and were becoming a little mutinous. We had played Carnoustie in rented shoes and with rented clubs, with some choosing not to play at all under these conditions. We had missed the ballot for the “Old Course” and because of a trip rule of picking up one’s ball when it was no longer a possibility of scoring Stableford points, one member declared, “I haven’t gotten to putt yet”! The next day we played Crail Golf Club’s great little seaside course down the road from St Andrews. Here everyone got to play, but we all got soaked in a downpour on the front nine. Since we finished early in the afternoon some of us were able to get on Kingsbarns, the then new links course located close by Crail. The balance of the group chose to return to our hotel in St Andrews to dry out and savor the majestic atmosphere of St Andrews. It was later that that we would have related to us the following story.

One of our larger and less nimble members decided that since he had not been able to play the Old Course he would at least go down to this famous place and get some pictures of its celebrated landmarks. He first got shots of the most photographed bridge in the world, the Swilcan Bridge that leads one from the 17th green to the 18th tee at the Old Course. Then he wanted some shots of the famous “Road Hole” 17th green. It was here that the fateful event took place. Since the Old Course is in constant play, and since on this day some local Scotsmen were engaged in a competition, getting shots were a matter of sneaking in between the golfing groups reaching this famous green. From having witnessed John Daly’s famous escape from this deep bunker on his way to winning the 1997 British Open, most golfers can appreciate just how deeply this bunker has been dug.

After accessing this bunker, probably from a sitting position, our beloved member was able to get his shots. As he turned and looked down the fairway he could see golfers approaching their balls for their shots into the green. Alas, escape from the bunker must be made quickly! But try as he may, either from a rear or forward facing position, our dear member just could not get out of the confines of this deep sand pit. Frantically, no doubt, his travail continued until at last a Scottish golfer approached him and rather angrily declared, “Sir, can’t you see, we are trying to have a competition here!” Dismayed, but undeterred our illustrious member decided on a course of action. Perhaps leaning on some military memories of the past, this befuddled but proud golfer assumed a stately upright position and stood at “attention” as the Scots finished putting out on the green. Afterwards other members of our group who had been standing in the background watching this hilarious event unfold came and extricated our humble golfer from his imprisonment. This member’s name was Wat Jones, perhaps the most colorful Dariadan of us all. So colorful, in fact, that there are more stories that we will save for another day.

Keep em straight!

The Secretary
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