One of the benefits of being ‘tour organiser’ is the opportunity to go out and play the courses before the tour itself to become better acquainted with the venue and its facilities.
Kindly invited for a friendly three ball by Kirkbymoorside member Gus Whyte, who is a local representative for the PGA (Pickering Golf Association if you must know) along with Ganton member Alan Swindley, we played the course on a hot July day from the yellow tees.
Alan was breathless when he arrived, rushing up the hill from the car park with five minutes to spare. He told us about his dodgy knee and the arthritis in his hands that was hindering his grip. Beware the injured golfer, I thought. And who says you can’t have a good round of golf jumping out of your car and not even having a practice putt.
Alan went on to have one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ rounds shooting 76 gross at the age of 79!
His round was not spectacular; there were no chip ins from off the green, holes in one or monster putts across the sloping greens (There was one but more on that later) but it was just a very steady round. Alan’s drives were straight, his iron shots invariably made the green in regulation and when he did go off line his recovery shots were Seve like.
Gus and I both knew he was having one of those rounds but we didn’t like to say anything in case it put him off. On the 17th tee he said to me, “I am putting quite well today but I haven’t sunk a long one” A bit of an understatement really as Alan had not three putted all day but I did say with a wry smile, “Well then this could be that hole, Alan.” And it b.xx** well was! Alan was on the green for three, 40 feet from the hole and he rammed it home for his par four. Amazing.
Gross 71 and a relatively short downhill and driveable par 4 at the last, certainly for Cameron or Mr Ritchie, but Alan somehow scuffed his ball into the long grass thirty yards from the tee. Was the pressure finally getting to him? He blasted his provisional down the 18th but on the search for his first ball both Gus and I shared concerned glances fearing the worst because the grass on the edge of the fairway was just so long and thick.
But there like a beacon it was sitting up ready to be hit. OK…a bit of an exaggeration, we had found it. Alan hacked it out and then, I guess, he played a 5 iron onto the green and once again two putted for a gross 75 and 42 points.
It really was quite special for Gus and I to witness such a score.
I know that you will like playing Kirkbymoorside. The drive to the course through the North Yorkshire countryside is to die for. It has got some really stunning holes winding their way through valleys created by glacial activity. Look out for the wildlife; weasels, stoats and hares are in abundance.
But can anyone else replicate Alan’s feat and score lower than their age?