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The Kilted Cad­die shares his cad­die ex­pe­ri­ence for David Walsh, the three-time Sportswriter of the Year and Lance Arm­strong ex­poser, at the Alfred Dun­hill Links Cham­pi­onship…

HK Golfer - - Contents - By The Kilted Cad­die

Guess who cad­dies for David Walsh, the three-time Sportswriter of the Year and Lance Arm­strong ex­poser, at the Alfred Dun­hill Links Cham­pi­onship?

What a sport­ing oc­ca­sion the Alfred Dun­hill Links Cham­pi­onship is? Played over the iconic links cour­ses of Carnoustie, Kings­barns and the Old Course in St An­drews. A ma­jor Pro-Am, whilst also be­ing one of the big­gest prize money and most pres­ti­gious events on the Euro­pean Tour. In fact, with a purse of $5 mil­lion, it’s a big lot of money. Tyrrell Hat­ton, this year’s win­ner, went home a tidy $800,000 bet­ter off. It is like the AT&T Peb­ble Beach Pro-Am in the U.S. where sim­i­larly, am­a­teurs play along­side the pros in a ma­jor tour event. It’s just that there is a slightly big­ger purse there, more Amer­i­cans, and it’s played over three cour­ses on the Mon­terey Penin­sula rather than in Fife and An­gus (if you get my drift?). Jor­dan Spi­eth, who won this year, says that he loves play­ing in it and prob­a­bly had as much fun, or more than in any other tour­na­ment.

Now, the fas­ci­nat­ing thing about these two events is that am­a­teurs play at the same time and along­side world-class pro­fes­sion­als, who are com­pet­ing at the high­est lev­els and for the high­est stakes. I can’t think of any other sport where this hap­pens, or in fact could hap­pen, give the colour, in­ten­sity and rar­ity of the two rub­bing shoul­ders with each other. Po­ten­tially you could make a case for darts, but prob­a­bly not syn­chro­nised swim­ming, apart from maybe the rub­bing shoul­ders bit.

At this year’s Dun­hill, I was lucky enough to cad­die for the 3-time Sportswriter of the Year and Lance Arm­strong ex­poser, David Walsh. I sent him a beau­ti­ful, golfy St An­drews’ post­card, he emailed back, and we hooked up.

He was drawn with the prodi­giously ta­lented, Matt Wal­lace, who has made a me­te­oric rise up the pro­fes­sional ranks. He had the leg­endary cad­die, Dave McNeilly, on his bag. So, you have 1-10-hand­i­cap David, tee­ing up with a mas­sive young golf tal­ent and prob­a­bly the best and most ex­pe­ri­enced cad­die in the world. And then me. A cad­die of a more du­bi­ous pedi­gree.

David warned me over the phone, at the out­set, that ‘he had every­thing you need to play golf apart from tal­ent.’ I in­ti­mated that he was get­ting the quid pro quo on the cad­dy­ing front, ex­cept prob­a­bly a more Wode­hou­sian than Wilde one (slight ner­vous laugh­ter on the other end of the phone).

It was how­ever born out at Carnoustie when we put a glo­ri­ously hit seven iron safety shot into the drink in front of the tenth green. That was in­deed a shock­ing piece of cad­dy­ing and a re­la­tion­ship tester if there ever was one. If this didn’t push David to the ex­treme, I’m not sure what would have, other than me push­ing him into the drink or Lance Arm­strong pitch­ing up in the throng.

He did, how­ever, make a bril­liant birdie on the 11th which eased the sit­u­a­tion, but full credit to my man for show­ing such re­serves of for­bear­ance that day, and in­deed also for a for­mi­da­ble 5-birdie streak at Carnoustie on the prac­tice round. He said af­ter that it was one of the ‘top three rounds of his life’.

On the first day of the tour­na­ment, I thought I’d go the full hog and add a splash of colour by wear­ing some pretty out­ra­geous trousers and scar­let socks. How­ever, the St An­drews cad­die mas­ter was none too im­pressed, ap­proached me on the driv­ing range and claimed that it was a ridicu­lous at­tire for a cad­die. I felt a tad de­flated by this re­mark and thought he missed the point that the first St An­drews’ cad­die in his­tory had landed an en­dorse­ment con­tract with a wacky golf cloth­ing out­fit­ter and showed a de­gree of in­ge­nu­ity in bag­ging a top-notch jour­nal­ist by send­ing a pic­ture post­card.

OK, I can ac­cept that he is not a fan of my writ­ing, but for me not to be able to ex­press any sar­to­rial in­di­vid­u­al­ity is an­other thing. Maybe

they should get us to dress up in white boiler suits like the Masters. How­ever, for the top end lux­ury cloth­ing out­fit that is Alfred Dun­hill. I wouldn’t have thought so.

Mind you I did get ap­proached by the lo­cal con­stab­u­lary, as a beam­ing and most cheery look­ing East Neuk po­lice­woman came over and gave me the ut­most com­pli­ment on my bright saltire breeks. Now that makes a pleas­ant change, as the last time I was ap­proached by the lo­cal con­stab­u­lary it was on far less favourable, con­struc­tive and am­i­ca­ble terms.

There are ru­mours that some am­a­teurs are pay­ing be­tween ten and fifty grand to get into the Dun­hill and that there is a very long queue. And, even if you do get in­vited to play and pay, there is no cer­tainty that you will be in­vited back the next year. An in­trigu­ing event it is.

The ‘draw’, whereby you dis­cover your play­ing part­ner, takes place on Tues­day evening but is a slight mis­nomer, as some guys just keep end­ing up with the same part­ners. How­ever, of more in­ter­est is the ‘hand­i­cap­ping’ which seems to be slightly fluid in na­ture, let’s say, and there ap­pears to be a high cor­re­la­tion of suc­cess in the team event con­cern­ing the de­gree of one’s re­la­tion­ship to Ir­ish horse rac­ing.

Dur­ing the com­pe­ti­tion, Matt and David played pretty solidly in the first two rounds and by the 11h hole at Kings­barns on the third day, were sud­denly be­ing fol­lowed by a mo­bile, on course, cam­era crew.

No, they weren’t out to see my breeks! The fact was that Matt had edged into the sec­ond po­si­tion in the Pro event. And fur­ther, David had a one-and-a-half-foot putt for a par to put the team on the leader­board at twenty un­der par. How­ever, then some­thing ter­ri­ble hap­pened which I be­lieve caused the sud­den demise of Team Walsh and po­ten­tially (but hope­fully not) the end of a bright ca­reer on the world golf stage for our young pro­fes­sional. For Matt holed out his par putt and then picked up David’s marker be­fore he could ut­ter a plain­tive word. With 200,000 dol­lars in the team event prize fund, this was more than a rash act.

It was merely dis­as­trous all round and if there was ever a jux­ta­po­si­tional turn­ing point in events there was one. Matt im­me­di­ately went on to drop six strokes to par in the en­su­ing five holes and David did not fare much bet­ter. Very painful to watch as the cam­era crew made a shrewd exit, as did Team Walsh.

Any­how, what an ex­pe­ri­ence for a week. The food pro­vided on the course was first class with de­li­cious Bal­gove Farm brioche burg­ers and hot dogs, won­der­ful Cullen skink and Pit­ten­weem sal­mon sand­wiches, all served plen­ti­fully to play­ers and cad­dies alike, at sev­eral points on the way around. The chaps at Alfred Dun­hill know how to put a show on, as high­lighted by the in­cred­i­ble fire­work dis­play over the West Sands on Satur­day evening.

I met a good few char­ac­ters and shook hands with sev­eral celebri­ties in­clud­ing the gentle­men, ex-Lions cap­tain Paul O’Connell and Sir A.P. McCoy. We heard many funny sto­ries in­clud­ing an anec­dote from Tom Lewis’s cad­die Alas­tair, a rather hefty chap from Sun­ning­dale with a bril­liant dead­pan de­liv­ery. He men­tioned that the cad­dies had been put up in the Ath­letes Vil­lage at the Olympics. David asked him what sport he told peo­ple he was do­ing, to which he im­me­di­ately re­torted with a most se­ri­ous ex­pres­sion, ‘hur­dles!’

The Dun­hill and AT&T are ex­cel­lent golf tour­na­ments and bring much fun, colour and light­heart­ed­ness to the some­times overly se­ri­ous pro­fes­sional cir­cuit. The mix cer­tainly worked for Jor­dan Spi­eth, and I no­ticed that this year’s win­ner, Tyrrell Hat­ton, was hav­ing a good few laughs out on the prac­tice range at Carnoustie.

A les­son per­haps for all.

Please write to thek­ilt­ed­cad­die@gmail.com if you have any com­ments.

Rory McIlory looks at his tee shot on the 5th of the Old Course in St An­drews

David Walsh and the Kilted Cad­die (right)

Tyrrell Hat­ton poses with his Alfred Dun­hill Links Cham­pi­onship tro­phy on the fa­mous Swilcan Bridge

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