• Ageing

    Why did nobody tell me about ageing?

    I walked the dog this morning, and on my way back, paused to admire the lawn. Not only to admire it, but to take a photograph of it.

    Why? I have absolutely no idea. Out of nowhere, the state of my lawn has somehow become an issue about which I care. It must be part of the ageing process.

    Another one. This weekend, we had a wonderful blast of weather. You know the type, a gorgeous, sunny couple of days which promises a long glorious summer, only to be followed by a ten degree drop in temperature and sideways rain. Anyway – in an unexpected, and unusual moment of good sense, I liberally applied sun cream before heading off to play golf on Saturday morning. I toyed with the idea of putting on a hat – but look, it’s April.

    I returned home bronzed and revitalised. The vitamin D had not seen off the man-flu, but I certainly felt a bit better.

    “You look a bit crispy.”

    Not quite the adjective I was looking for, but I decided it was a compliment. Sunday brought another day of golf. This time with a hat.

    On Monday, I awoke feeling a little flat. The day was frankly a struggle. Shortly before eight pm, I was being barked at for snoring loudly on the sofa. I muttered something about a shower before creeping up the stairs and under the covers. Where I stayed, unmoving, until gone six this morning.

    Where did that come from? In bed by eight? I am claiming a touch of sun-stroke, but I suspect that actually, I’m just ageing.

    One last one. As you know, I love a bit of golf. This weekend, the Masters was on. Going into the last day, Justin Rose (from a club just up the M3) and Sergio Garcia from Spain were joint leaders. Sergio arrived on the golfing scene in the 90’s. An eager puppy with a winning smile and twinkly eyes. The next big thing. The new ‘Seve’. Talent tumbling out of his ears. For the best part of twenty years he charged about, winning some tournaments, making buckets of money, and gradually earning the tag ‘best-player-not-to-win-a-major”.

    This Masters was his 74th Major. The last day, Sunday, would have been the 60th birthday of the great Seve Ballesteros, Sergio’s golfing hero, hell, the golfing hero of an entire generation of European golfers.

    Could he do it this time? Could he win? Of course he couldn’t. The Masters requires a whole load of things, but it definitely requires nerveless putting. Years of struggles have made Sergio a nervy, fidgety man with the flat-stick. Watching him putt can be painful.

    As the last day unfolded, the challengers fell away. It became simply Justin against Sergio. The Spaniard eased ahead over the front nine. The metronomic Rose kept in touch though, reeling him back in. As they walked off twelve, the momentum was with Englishman. It was clear to me, that the pressure on Sergio would increase shot by shot, until he cracked under the relentless competence of Rose’s game.

    Sergio took on the riskiest line for his tee-shot on 13. He didn’t quite catch it right and the ball settled at the bottom of a bush. Rose was in great shape in the middle of the fairway. Sergio needed to take a penalty drop for an unplayable lie. Wherever he dropped it, he would have an iffy lie, with trees and water between him and the green.

    Time for bed, I thought. Nice work Rosie.

    In fairness to Sergio, he salvaged a par 5, but Rosie was 2 ahead walking onto 14.

    Hang on, look at Sergio. Bouncing along, a smile on his face. Not dropping a shot has given him a little shot of something.

    One more hole, I thought. on 14, Sergio made his putt, Rose’s grazed the hole. Only one in it.

    On 15, under enormous pressure, Sergio hit an 8 iron that will be on highlight reels for years to come. A gem. He eagles the hole. Rose birdies. All square, three to play.

    Lest this become the longest post in history, I’ll spare you the blow by blow account of the remaining three holes. They could not be separated. They moved onto a sudden-death playoff.

    Sergio was left with two putts down a slope to win. He did it in one.

    The partisan American crowd around the 18th green leaped into the air as one. Pretty much every golfer in the world cheered. The Americans began chanting ‘Ser-gi-o’. Me? Inexplicably, I had got dust in both eyes and tears were tumbling onto my cheeks.

    Must be part of the ageing process.

    AUGUSTA, GA – APRIL 09: Sergio Garcia of Spain celebrates after defeating Justin Rose (not pictured) of England on the first playoff hole during the final round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 692254095 ORIG FILE ID: 666619486

  • Distraction

    Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely lucky to have so many distractions.

    I write this post from a beautiful spot in Cyprus, where I have been swimming every day and playing golf, watching my wife get better and better at the game. It’s only a matter of time until she beats me.

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    This photo was taken on a rare dry moment in a practice walk around Howth, near Dublin.

    At stuartlennon.comI have been posting about another distraction. I’m looking forward to a week walking in some gorgeous countryside with friends old and new. We are hoping to raise some money for a hospice. If you can spare a couple of euro, then please donatePlaces like Our Lady’s Hospice are very special. As my friend and co-walker, Stuart Smith (in the featured photo) wrote “he passed away in a loving, caring, pain-free environment.” Read the rest of his post here.

    In order to bring some sort of order to my days, I am experimenting with both the Best Self Journal and Bullet Journal, two systems that I will write posts on soon.

    Writing is getting done around all these brilliant distractions. It’s all about editing at the moment, getting feedback from my writing buddy and tightening the prose. Methodical, detailed work…all the things that do not come naturally to me. So, short concentrated bursts work well.

    My long-suffering Writing Buddy is doing her level-best to keep me on task, but frankly, it’s a bit like herding cats.

    Nevertheless – I’m confident that a book will get published.

     

  • No Dickheads

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    I posted last week about a Golf Day that I attended – BattleBack versus Rugby’s Golf Club.

    Once the golf had finished, we repaired to Tedworth House, a Help 4 Heroes Recovery Centre, for a spot of dinner and a charity auction.

    I bought the print above. The original (complete with signatures of many famous sports and media folk) was presented to Welsh Rugby legend Cliff Morgan on the occasion of his retirement.

    One hundred prints were countersigned by the man himself to be used for charitable purposes.

    Now I have one in my house. This makes me feel inordinately pleased with myself. My wife is, for the moment, reserving judgement.

    Rugby’s Golf Club relates to the game of Rugby, not the place. It binds people with interests in Rugby, Golf and doing good. Jason Leonard is the club President.

    After dinner – one of our number stood up and spoke about The Rugby Business Network. His name was Colm Hannon.

    Colm, like me, played prop. Unlike me, he was good at it.

    Colm played professional rugby in Ireland, England and South Africa. I daresay that he made a pretty decent living.

    Post Rugby – he identified a need for something like The Rugby Business Network and went out and set it up. Good on him.

    He presented to us what it is and what it is for.

    I may get a word or two wrong, but I’m sure that he will forgive me;

    “Essentially there is one criterion for membership. Officially we say that at any RBN event you must say “How can I help you?” – but unofficially, it is much simpler.”

    “No Dickheads.”

    If you played Rugby, then I suspect that you understand the nuance.

    Certainly many in the room nodded their understanding, although of course, this may have just been people nodding off as the wine took effect.

    I have a feeling that Jason Leonard knows exactly what it means and I am sure that Cliff Morgan would have too.

    No Dickheads means team first.

    Your teammates come before all else. No ego. No bullshit – not on the field, not off the field.

    If there is anything that anyone takes away from the game of rugby – then it is this. (And a lot of very imaginative and graphic song lyrics)

    In many ways, it is a good maxim to live by – in business, in sport, in everything.

     

  • Perspective

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    “More Golf?”

    Now, now, dear reader. Relax.

    You sound like the wife.

    This post is only tangentially about golf.

    Yesterday I took part in a golf day at my home club Tidworth Garrison Golf Club.

    It was a match between BattleBack Golf and Rugby’s Golf Club. I slipped in with a few other club members to even out the numbers.

    Please do check out the links above, a great golf club and two superb sports initiatives. All the links will open in separate pages.

    Back with me? Good.

    I was playing with the two people in the picture. They were playing for the BattleBack team.  – That makes them injured service people.

    On the left we have Fiona, who was injured while training and has had and continues to have multiple operations on her shoulder and knee. On the right is Jimmy who managed to get himself shot five times in the leg on Operations.

    Both people that might have some justification in feeling a bit hard done by as well as not a little bit sore.

    Not a bit of it. They were both bundles of energy, out to have fun. Out to get recovered.

    It’s all a matter of perspective apparently.

    Jimmy has not yet got a handicap, and was predictably a bit erratic. When he got it going the right way, you can take my word for it, that ball stayed hit. As his leg recovery continues, and he continues to play (he has just started) he will comfortably pass me in golfing prowess.

    Fiona is an accomplished golfer. To demonstrate the point, she knocked in a hole in one on the thirteenth. (That is the green that you can see on the left of this page.) A beautiful shot and her first hole in one.

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    The purists will of course need to know that Yes, poor Fiona was hit for a very large round of drinks!

    Quite apart from sharing in the delight of that rare thing, the hole in one, the whole day was brilliant.

    Dinner was hosted at Tedworth House.

    Here food was eaten, some jokes were told, some wine was drunk and there was even a little auction action.

    A gentleman called Mark was asked to say a few words about Help 4 Heroes and what it had meant and continues to mean for him.

    I cannot recreate what he said or how he said it. I am not sure that I can adequately express how much sincerity weighed down each and every one of his words.

    I can write that BattleBack and Help 4 Heroes are important. Like life and death important.

    Days like this are about perspective, and understanding what things really matter in life.

    My perspective? How lucky am I to have the chance to write what I want, do what I want – because brave Men and Women go out and serve.

     

  • Y is for Yank

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    Yanks. They are just such a nightmare.

    Loud, uncultured, ignorant peasants. Always have been. Always will be.

    I know this, as I was taught it from a young age.

    Then, I met some.

    Some loud ones. Some quiet ones.

    Some uncultured ones. Some cultured ones.

    They even came in a multitude of colours, races, creeds and religions.

    Annoyingly, I have met some spectacularly amazing people that, God forbid, were born and bred in the USA.

    On the quittrain.com there are some folk who are genuine, bona fide superstars from the States. Nancy, Babs, Colleen, Ava, DD, MQ, Sonic. Joe, Rez, Bakon – all on my bucket list of people to visit, thank and raise a glass with. (There are more too on this incredible site.)

    I once posted on a golf site about having the possibility of tacking a day or two onto a trip to the US so that I could play a golf. Within 24 hours, it was arranged that I would be staying at someone’s house in California with guaranteed tee times on Pasatiempo, San Juan Oaks and…Pebble Beach. – Yes. THAT Pebble Beach.

    The host was a Yank.

    A Yank with exceptional taste in left bank Bordeaux.

    I met a wonderfully intelligent, hospitable, humorous couple whom went out of their way to ensure that I enjoyed every second of my time in the USA.

    It all came as a bit of a shock.

    My eyes were opened to the enormity of the USA. Are there some bad things about the US? I am sure that there must be – guns would be an immediate question mark in my mind. However, in my experience, there are an incredible amount of positive things too.

    Most importantly – the vast majority of Yanks seem to be ….well, quite normal people really.

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  • J is for Jordan. Jordan Spieth

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    Image from Getty Images – taken from Jordanspiethgolf.com

    I had promised myself not to write any more posts about golf this month.

    I have broken the promise because of the young man in the photograph above.

    Jordan Spieth is a twenty one year old, who on Thursday and Friday amassed the best score ever in the first two rounds of the Masters.

    There are two more rounds to play, and therefore plenty of time for the wheels to come off, but I’ll be bold and say that I expect him to go and win.

    For those who do not know, the Masters in an annual tournament held at the hyper-exclusive Augusta National club in Georgia, USA. It is the only of golf’s four ‘Major’ tournaments that is played on the same course every year. It is an incredibly tough but beautiful golf course.

    Jordan Spieth is a young Texan, who loves his baseball, his football and basketball. He loves country music. I would not be at all surprised to hear that he loves Nascar. He seems to be an all American boy.

    What makes him a little bit different is that in 2014 he is playing golf at an incredible level. In setting his record over the first two rounds, he is five shots clear of the rest of the field.

    He is, in effect, destroying the world’s best golfers on one of the world’s toughest courses.

    The idol of 21st century American golf was Tiger Woods – and he is now a tarnished idol. There have been some pretenders to the vacant throne but only now, in Jordan Spieth, has there been a candidate who looks like a genuine prospect.

    Joyfully, Jordan comes across as a humble, down to earth young man.

    Inspiring.

    This is a very difficult thing for a European golf fan to write – but I hope that Mr Spieth does win the tournament and continues to go from strength to strength.

    Inspiration can come from the strangest of places. Who or what inspires you?

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  • G is for Gratitude

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    Look. I could not bring myself to hit you with another golf picture or post.

    The sea is nice though isn’t it?

    I don’t want you thinking that I do nothing but play golf, watch golf or talk about golf. Admittedly, today, I did a lot of all three.

    I was lucky enough to be invited to make up a four-ball at the Wentworth Club, one of the foremost golfing venues in England.

    I got an invite because a senior executive of a sporting apparel and equipment company is a member of the same club where I play and he has ‘connections’.

    We met because I am involved in promoting junior golf at the club. He has a daughter that plays.

    “Stuart – thanks for your help with the juniors. Would you like to come and play at Wentworth?” There is no golfer in England that would turn down an invite here.

    That was the first invite. Since then, we have played a few times.

    Today was the finest day of the year so far. Despite wearing sun screen, there is a definite rosy hue to my face this evening.

    As I walked the famous fairways in the sunlight playing atrocious golf, I was grateful.

    I was positively brimming with gratitude. Internally, I was composing an acceptance speech of Oscar-esque proportions, complete with breaking voice and suppressed sobs.

    I was grateful to Drew – the friend that invited me. To Nigel and Adam who were playing. To my darling wife who was working while I swanned about on the golf course, to the Chief Weather God, responsible for laying on such excellent conditions.

    Above all else, I was grateful I had offered to help out the junior section, setting in train a sequence of gratitude that resulted in me having a cracking day out in Surrey.

    A good deed should be its own reward but gratitude has a way of going all the way around in a virtuous circle.

    Thanks for reading.

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