Better at Receiving Than Giving
The Kilted Caddie recalls a series of caddie experiences for successful Americans who are keen on the old game…
A fair comment on President Donald Trump, America’s most astute golfer.
Ionce caddied for this elderly American chap who was apparently very fit, wealthy and pretty keen on the old game. He handed me a card on the first tee and asked if I would record his score. It was fine, but it became quickly apparent that his card was to be a wonderfully creative work of fiction. It started on the second when he duffed a chip and merely put another ball down, hit it close and used it. It was primarily a round of ongoing self-given Mulligans. Fair call I thought, and maybe this is how golf should be played? I mean they kind of do that in lawn tennis. But I’m not sure if the Rules bloke at the Royal and Ancient will buy into it.
Things got a bit more colourful on the ninth. He hit a good pitch which went fifteen feet past the pin and onto the small bank just behind the green and stuck there, somehow defying gravity. I said, ‘bad luck’ and meant it, as in most cases it would have come back down to the hole, which it did! As he walked past the ball, he gave it a delicate and most skilful wee nudge with the outside of his left foot, and it rolled to a few feet.
The ultimate came through on the long par four, twelfth. He had a Mulligan off the tee and found himself in the greenside bunker in ‘three’. He had several stabs, attempting to get out of the bunker, and eventually, put it to forty feet and rolled in the putt. His wife turned around and said, ‘what was that?’ And he remarkably and unashamedly and astonishingly said ‘a par’.
He carded an 82.
I caddied for another very successful American gentleman who was some kind of
pastor in Pebble Beach as well as something along the lines of a self-help guru, businessman. Well, at least that is what he told me over the first few holes. He had ‘written 102 books, had over 20 million followers on Twitter and spoke at conferences around the world making millions’.
He was quite a canny golfer but was manifestly full of himself. However, when he got into a bunker at thirteen, on a downward lie, he merely kicked his ball onto a flat and more favourable position. I suppose that is what he professes as self-help, or am I a bit too cynical? Maybe he has a chapter in one of his books about it. Maybe called ‘The Bunker’. Anyway, I shan’t be buying one. For that one little act on the golf course had undermined him in my eyes, no matter the millions of Twitter followers or the number of books he had published. Sorry. Not impressed. And I shall not be giving his name away but let’s just say a most bitter flavour comes into my mouth when I think of it.
By all accounts, a rather famous and notorious ex-footballer in the American sense, (I mean footballer in the American sense, not notorious), playing in a Pro-Am, seemingly had his ball tee’d up in the rough and on being asked why and how he claimed it landed on it! I wonder how that would stand up to the jury?
On another footing, this brings up the remembrance of a golfer at our club, David Patrick, who was a Walker Cup player and got through into a final playoff to qualify for The Open. He, unfortunately, hit into the rough, away from everyone, and on addressing the ball, it seemingly moved just more than the allowed half diameter. Anyway, he called the foul on himself and incurred the penalty which prevented him qualifying. Wonderful. That is golf. That is life. But how rare does this kind of behaviour appear nowadays? I mean even politicians have been found out to be lying. Look at that Flynn bloke in America. The National Security Advisor for goodness sake. Poor show.
My brother told me of an amusing anecdote of how he was playing in a Club Medal one day with a very successful local businessman. Marking the chap’s card on the sixteenth tee, he asked what he’d scored to which the reply came ‘five’. Knowing this was wrong my brother intimated that he thought he had played six shots on the hole. To which the man unbelievably and immediately replied ‘net five’.
Give me strength!
Now, there is a remarkably successful man in America who is a very keen and seemingly most astute golfer. He is also that country’s president. Mr Donald Trump.
He has seemingly won nineteen club championships, held an amateur course record of 66 at a club called Mar-a-Lago and was listed on the USGA GHIN system at the end of 2016 with a 2.8 handicap. That is ostensibly very impressive. A course record, albeit an amateur one. Nineteen club championships! Wow. And playing off 2.8.
On further inspection and not to discredit these achievements, Donald turns out to own the golf courses at which he had the many victories and the personnel thereat have not been willing to elaborate on these august triumphs, for some reason. But well done anyway. I suppose you could say that these are home club victories in the truest sense, as he owns them all. The only club he is a member of which he doesn’t own is Winged Foot, and he has no record of any club championship wins there.
I have won two club championships. My junior at Mortonhall in 1979 as well as somehow carrying off the Mortonhall
Casual Barmy Army Club Championship in the glorious summer of 2008 after a oneround decider, resulting from the committee’s inability to arrange a spring qualifying round and any resulting match play that year. A default win maybe. But a win. And an honest win. A reasonable 76 as far as I recall on a cold and wet October’s day.
Now I do not want to undermine Mr Trump’s golfing stature or intimate that he is barmy, but things don’t look that good on closer inspection. He somehow only posted twenty rounds between 2009 and 2016. Why? That for a start doesn’t inspire one with confidence. And further.
Alan Shipnuck, the then senior writer at
Sports Illustrated said that playing golf with Mr Trump was a ‘nauseating character study of him’ And further ‘he bends the rules or completely skirts the rules to his benefit’. Hmm, not good either.
Nick Reilly, another Sports Illustrated writer, played with him and claimed that he gave himself ‘a gimme chip’. However, that was lambasted by a rather riled Mr Trump who then labelled Mr Reilly as ‘a dishonest writer’. Fake news I guess?
Mark Mulvoy, the Sports Illustrated media editor told Washington Post that he had played with Mr Trump in the nineties. Mr Trump said that he had placed his ball next to the pin on one hole and explained it by saying that, ‘the guys I play with cheat all the time, and I have to cheat to catch up with them’. Ok, the picture is building here.
Now in October, Senator Lindsay Graham played in the Columbus Day Foundation Tournament at Trump National GC, Washington, with the owner. He tweeted after that ‘he (the owner) had shot a 73 in wet and windy conditions’. On being questioned further about the round the Senator did not say much, but he did say this about putts, ‘he is better at receiving than giving’. I think enough said.
Ernie Els reckons that Mr Trump is about an eight to nine handicapper and Rory McIlroy came out with the most politic quote after playing with him this year, ‘he probably shot around 80. He’s a decent player for a guy in his 70’s.’
Well, I don’t like the word ‘probably’ here Rory and ‘around 80’ is far too vague and usually means about 95 once you’ve added the goodwill factor to it. And in this instance, I imagine that was considerable.
Anyway, I am not on a witch hunt against Mr Trump here; heaven forbids I don’t work for the FBI, nor that bloke Mueller. I just understand and adhere to the rules and etiquette of the noble game of golf and have a gut instinct when things appear amiss. And I’m afraid things just don’t stack up for me here. I trust that the president is very probably a decent player for a guy in his 70’s though. But hell, I’m a Comey, straight talking kind of bloke who calls a spade a spade and a bogey a bogey.
My handicap is now very definitely and absolutely eleven. Yes, that’s double figures I know. But an honest writer I am. And an honest golfer too.
Yes, that may well not be a very sexy level of handicap to my female readers out there. However, on the plus side, I do hit a very long ball. Well, when it goes straight that is. If that sort of thing is important to you?
Please go to thekiltedcaddie.com to find out more about The Kilted Caddie.
Rory McIlroy came out with the most politic quote after playing with Donald Trump this year,
‘he probably shot around 80. He’s a decent player for a guy in his 70’s.’
The only club Donald Trump is a member of which he doesn’t own is Winged Foot, and he has no record of any club championship wins there