Golfing Odyssey Part 1 – original post 10/6/1:

This is going to feel more like a golf blog than a running blog after 90 holes over Thursday, Friday and Saturday. More of that later but I did manage to maintain some level of training over the early part of the week. Was great to get out in pleasant sunshine without it being too warm – likewise for the golf – so the roads were very enjoyable. Always better to be outside but especially when the weather turns in our favour.

Given that golf was going to dominate, the key thing from a training point of view was to make sure I got in a long run. Managed 17ks on Wednesday going west to Albert bridge, back along the north side of the river to Southwark bridge and crossing to come back to County Hall again. It is a very pleasant route taking in Battersea Park, the Embankment and the South Bank sights. At the moment my main challenge is setting a slow pace so I can do long easy runs but this one was 5’40” per kilometre which was just about perfect for me.

Off to Dublin Thursday morning for first part of the golf odyssey at Portmarnock. Managed a quick 5k along the sea front at Malahide between arriving at the hotel and lunch. Lovely run. I have found it is managing to squeeze in these runs on days when it would be easy not to that has made the difference. Knowing what was ahead, I suspected this would be my last jog before next week so it was an important one.

Then off to Old Portmarnock for 18 that afternoon and a full 36 in the PwC GB v Ireland match on Friday. It is truly one of the great links and the weather was idyllic, unbroken sunshine, temperature around 20 degrees and just enough breeze to make you think about it. There is nothing to compare with a game in a place and on a day like this, will stay in the memory for a long time. Happily my long lost timing came back occasionally as well so the play was not too bad.

Had to skip the dinner (not the same without Mark Moffat there to entertain us anyway!) to fly back to London in order to make the next day’s play. BA brought things right back to earth with a typical 50 minute delay due to a ”missing piece of paper” so I did not get back to the flat until 11.45. Consequently was pretty tired the next morning by the time I met up with my Caledonian Club team mate for the day, Ewan Cameron, in Waterloo at 7.00 the next morning. He is a very enthusiastic and cheery companion so by the time we reached Woking Golf Club spirits were much better.

The event was the Alba trophy, now a scratch medal 36 hole foursomes event for teams drawn from a mix of old school societies, gentlemen’s clubs and local golf clubs. This makes it the toughest possible form of golf but the day was a joy. It was also nice to see that the roots of the event hark back to the lost days of 36 hole amateur golf. Sadly most of these events have now died so it was great that they have found a format to keep it alive especially with an honours board that includes the names of Micklem, Bonallack, Townshend and Benka and at a club that once boasted Bernard Darwin as its leading light.

Scoring was no more than respectable although we could have been very good in the morning but for a couple of yahoos each from Messrs Fraser and Cameron – you have to be able to give and take in foursomes! The weather was again beautiful with just a little more wind which was hard to read in the trees but the golf course was the real star of the day. It was my first experience of Woking and it is a true gem, beautifully presented heathland with firm fairways, tangly heather and mature woodlands. The greens were immaculate, fast and slopey and it was just a pleasure to be out there.

Very pleased that the body managed through two consecutive days of 36 holes without too much strain. The mind did struggle in the second round at Woking though and given the likely time on the road for Comrades will need to look into some brain games I think. Overall though was just pleasantly tired on Sunday despite an even longer 1 hour 45 minute delay courtesy of BA meaning I did not get back home until quarter to One on Sunday morning, poor Ewan facing a two hour drive to Southerness when he reached Glasgow. BA also did their usual thing, herding us onto the plane before the delayed flight crew had arrived then claiming we would be airborne 5 mins after they boarded when in fact essential pre flight checks take at least 30 minutes. The delay was not their fault but they need to start being honest rather than optimistic when doling out the sparse information they give to passengers.

It would be remiss not to wrap this post up by mentioning the best part of this week’s golf tour. The real reason the game is so great is the pleasure to be had in the company of friends old and new. The Portmarnock event is one I have played in before so was largely a case of renewing old acquaintances although I did get to play golf with a couple of good friends whose company I have only previously enjoyed on the social side. This will be my last appearance but I hope to find the opportunity to golf with many of these great partners again.

The Alba by contrast was my debut. I had met Ewan before but he was both a great companion and an excellent partner. Our playing companions for the day, Mike and Rags representing the grand old school of Marlborough could not have been more charming and fun so all in all a great day out. I say this even though all three of the above are Lawyers!

Next couple of weeks will feature more great golf – hopefully a bit of running as well.

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