And so it begins.
I nearly ran over a deer this morning. Two eyes pierced the icy fog as I drove through the darkness to open the shop at 6.30am. I was wide awake after that. The padlocks on the courtyard bollards were particularly stiff – frozen solid having stood guard overnight. Who’d want to take a golf buggy out for a midnight joyride in this weather?
Sharon never hoovered before close last night. A stencil of encrusted mud stands on the customer’s side of the counter. Soft spikes I see. I turn on the computer to check how busy it was on the system the night before. A tumbleweed passes over the digital tee sheet. How hard is it to hoover before closing time, Sharon?
Ron phoned in from the first hole. “Greens are harder than a Spanish Sudoku puzzle,” he told me. “I’ll give you a ring again before 9.”
“Full Irish it is so,” I said to myself. “Lovely.”
I send out a group text to the first two hours of members on the sheet:
‘Dear members. The tee-sheet is delayed this morning due to frost. Next review at 8.30am. We will be in touch then. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.’
I skipped to the kitchen, the sizzling bacon hitting my nostrils like an impeccably planted kiss. I ask the Chef for a bit of everything, black pudding included. I’m in credit after sneaking him and his mates out for nine last Wednesday – not a collared shirt between them.
Three rashers, three sausages, black and white pudding, grilled tomato, sautéed mushroom, Ballymaloe relish, four slices of toast and a pot of tea, I waltzed back to the pro shop like I’d just walked out of a bank with a duffle bag full of cash and no questions asked.
“Good morning John.” Jesus.
Frank’s standing front and centre on the shop floor. He was due out at 7.35. He tells me he never got the text. He never gets the text.
Also, Frank never gets the hint that I don’t have time to hear about all 104 shots of his round from Tuesday morning when I’ve got a stock take to do, or worse still, when I have to eat a fry.
“I was really striking it well,” he tells me.
“For all 104 of them, Frank?”
His mouth hadn’t stopped moving since he said good morning. I couldn’t hear him with all the steam spewing from my ears. By the time he leaves me in peace, my toast is cold and the hardened butter just sits on top of the bread like an unwanted turd, refusing to spread.
7.32am – the phone rings. It’s someone asking for an update. They’d got the text. I tell them that as mentioned, I will be in touch again in an hour. They tell me they thought I might have the inside scoop. I explain that I’m not a bloody meteorologist, in my head of course, politely ushering them off the phone as I stab my hand with a pitch-repairer.
I desperately need a coffee. Frank made sure the pot of tea was cold by the time it touched my lips. I make a beeline for the bar when I hear my name called from behind me. It’s Frank. He must’ve been hiding in the changing room.
“Any update, John?”
“Not yet, Frank.” I say. “The greens need time to thaw out.” And evidently your brain does too.
“How long would you reckon?” He asks as if I was in the middle of inspecting a green.
“If it was up to me Frank, I’d send you out now. Honest.”
A merciful bowel movement spares me of Frank as I barge through the bar door to Barry the barista. I tell him to make mine a double.
“Quiet one today,” he says, as I hand him a copy of the tee sheet.
“Sadly, it’s never as quiet as you think.”