It’s Not All About Winning
The Kilted Caddie recalls his time with Chubby Chandler, Darren Clarke and Jordan Smith on the Tuesday practice day of The Open Championship at Carnoustie.
The Kilted Caddie recalls his time with Chubby Chandler and Darren Clarke on the Tuesday practice day of The Open Championship.
Ihave to admit to being a big fan of attending The Open on the practice days. Not only is it significantly cheaper, £25 as opposed to £80, but it’s obviously a lot quieter, and there is a chance to mingle with the players and other persons of note. Well, mostly that is. Carnoustie is very much on the golfing map. However, you only really go there for the golf, if you get my drift. It has nothing of the beauty, historical significance or stunning architecture of St Andrews which sits across the water. In short, the town of Carnoustie is not glam and indeed not pretty. You certainly don’t go there for high-end shopping, high end hotels, high- end restaurants or high-end anything. I suspect if you decanted a bottle of wine in a Carnoustie hostelry they would probably ask you if there is anything wrang with it? No. It’s not a winedecanting town.
However, Carnoustie is blessed with one of the most stunning and challenging golf courses in the world, and I’ll drink, undecanted, to that.
I went to the Tuesday practice day, and there was already a great buzz and bright, expectant atmosphere. I headed for the practice area which was against the grain for me, but they seem to have dispensed with the Bollinger Tent for some insane reason. Still, I suppose at 10am it was a tad early for that sort of thing. Hmm?
The practice area was mobbed, and full of recognisable and not so recognisable faces. On a small stage at one end the affable and ready smiling Danny Willet was being interviewed and talking through his swing changes. Right next, across a small fence was Darren Clarke with the famous sports promoter Chubby Chandler.
I had a fancy to get a selfie with Mr Chandler and was thinking about shouting across ‘Chubby’. However, on noting that Darren had put on a good bit of beef, I thought this inadvisable and had the obvious potential for being taken the wrong way. I don’t think you want to be seen to wind up Mr Clarke, even though my motive was ostensibly pure and innocent.
Still, I did manage to catch up with Mr Chandler as he exited the practice area, asked for a selfie to which he initially seemed ok about. However, he then obviously had second thoughts and quickly marched off, saying ‘he was behind time’. I thought that was quite an interesting comment, reflected quickly on its possible (but unlikely) philosophical dimension and then figured I’d just been snubbed. You can’t win them all.
I did, however, get an Open selfie with the most lovely and genuine English player, Jordan Smith who’d done so well in the U.S. Open a couple of years back. I shouted across to him as he was walking up Hogan’s Alley and he immediately, and most obligingly, came across. I had caddied in the same group with him at the Dunhill last year, and he actually remembered me. Or shall I say he remembered my somewhat memorable Royal and Awesome shorts? Anyway, what a very decent and obliging bloke.
I wish I could say that for another bloke out there on the course. I saw Tiger on the first tee and thought I’d amble up to the adjacent stand which was packed. I shouted down ‘what are your chances, Tiger?’ However, I met an unflinching Tiger who was obviously ‘in the zone’ or had suddenly lost all means of sensory communication. Nevertheless, I thought he would at least acknowledge the four young boys who were collecting autographs just at the end of the first tee. However, I’m afraid a very definite no. He ceremoniously marched past this wee group of eager young fans with his cohort of sycophantic playing partners who thought it right to ignore the young autograph hunters too. Maybe Tiger will grow up one day and set a fine example. Life is not all about being a great golfer, my man.
In much more friendly and buoyant mood was the commentator Ken Brown whom
I caught in a buggy coming out of the TV compound. He was more than willing to have a wee chat and his photo taken as was the NBC presenter Roger Maltbie, who gave me a lift back to the course after my slight detour to catch up with my old pal Pete who works with the Beeb.
Yes, it’s really all very convivial and festive like at The Open. People tucking into burgers and fish and chips (of course). Many stout and cheery bods swigging cold Stella Artois under the warm Angus sun. Even the local constabulary was in high spirits and every game. I managed to get my arm around one which makes a delightful and novel change. Just a wee joke of course! I’ve never to my knowledge been on the wrong side of the Angus constabulary.
I did notice that the Japanese contingent had female caddies and the most attractive ones at that. They were really jovial and smiling lot, and I was compelled to follow their group for a few holes and even got chatting to the Asahi TV crew. I said I wrote for HK Golfer which got a slightly uneasy and quizzical look from the group at first. Their immediate conversation went something like this, said with extreme and the most interesting and varied degrees of intonation. ‘Hong Kong Goff?’ ‘Aah Hong Kong Goff!’ ‘Aaah, ohhh, Hong Kong Goff, Honk Kong Goff’ (a brief respite for a few giggles and that open-mouthed Japanese incredulity look thing) ‘Ohhh Hong Kong Goff!’
Yes, I guess they would have been expecting someone with a more oriental disposition. Not the six foot two, broad and bald Edinburgher that was in their midst. Anyway, they were most friendly and courteous as the Japanese race always seem to be. We did exchange a few pleasantries and as they headed away in their buggy. I shouted a parting ‘I’ll see you in Tokyo’ which did cause a bit of amusement.
The marshals finely fitted out in their very smart red, Boss sponsored outfits were a delight and most helpful. They escorted me across the course when I suddenly realised I had lost sight of the Stella tent and educated me of the local word for light rain ‘smurr’, which sounds like my chat after a few hours in the Stella tent!
So, largely a happy, amusing and eventful day. Even the local constabulary was in high spirits and very game. As ever I’m afraid that there are the few that are taking themselves a bit too seriously. However, come on Chubby and Tiger, if the local bobbies can let their hair down then so can you guys. It’s not all about winning.
Even though Francesco Molinari manifestly showed us all about that.
Ken Brown and friend come face to face with the Kilted Caddie
The Kilted Caddie and the Asian friends