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Soaking up the unique atmosphere

You can imagine my excitement: a scratch player in my early 20s, and enjoying immensely a new role as Instruction Editor at Golf World magazine, I had been invited to play in the pro-am preceding the 1988 Dunhill Cup at St Andrews. It gets better. Tee time - 11am; playing professional - Sandy Lyle. Sandy Lyle! In his heyday! The '85 Open Champion and reigning Masters Champion. At the Home of Golf!

I can still remember the rather cramped room I’d found last minute in a guest-house in the middle of town – cramped on this fateful morning because long-time friend and fellow Cornwall county golfer, Colin George, occupied the floor. ‘Sandy Lyle!’ he had screamed down the phone. ‘Right, I’m caddying’.

Golf International July 2010 issue

After a night savouring the unique, er, spirit of St Andrews, we were woken by the sound of the rain beating against the windows. It was coming in sideways. I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach. It was still coming in sideways when we made for the car and, arriving at the course, a much-anticipated session on the range became the first casualty of the weather.

“Forget that for a game of soldiers,” said Colin. “Let’s find a bacon sandwich.”

The clock was ticking. With an hour to go we made made a dash for cover outside the R&A clubhouse, where it was a relief to hear the crackling of a speaker as the starter announced matches on to that hallowed square of immaculate turf that is the 1st tee (there are even holes cut in it so you can practice your putting before the off – on a nice day). We stood to watch a couple of groups head out. Conditions were truly appaling. Even the caddies raised eyebrows to the heavens – how much longer could the rain last?

Perranporth in a storm is a handful. This was just a drop of rain. At least that was the gist of the conversation as Colin and I retreated to the car to gear up. Still no sign of the Masters champion as we returned to the 1st tee, and although the rain persisted, the gloom was lifted as we shook hands with the other members of the team – one of whom turned out to be a captain of one of the many golf clubs affiliated with St Andrews.

Suddenly, he appeared. Hand out-stretched. “Sandy Lyle, pleased to meet you.”

The starter cleared his throat.

This was it!

Through the scrawly interference I could just make out the first group of the day playing the 18th – it was Greg Norman!

“Ladies and gentleman...’ crackled the speaker. The butterflies took flight.

“It is my regret to inform you that play has been cancelled for the day.”

“Cheerio” said Sandy. He turned on his heels and was gone.

Cheerio? We stood there in silence. Colin and me, wet through.

“Well that is a bugger,” said the captain of one of the golf clubs affiliated with St Andrews. “What do you say we shower back at my club and enjoy a very long lunch?”

For all the wrong reasons, one of the best day’s golf we never had!

Enjoy the issue.

July 2010

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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