Madeleine Winnett - Making up for lost golf time
Happy new year everyone – and indeed it is now the happiest of happy new years. Rumour has it that CONGU is on the way out! Oh joy! Oh blessed relief! Start hanging out the bunting and let the street parties begin.
Unfortunately, they are going to drag their wretched heels before departing, but at least there is light at the end of the tunnel. In truth, I don’t know enough about the slope system, with which it is going to be replaced, to comment much about it
But, to be honest, I don’t care what it entails. If we have to play with both feet tied together, hopping around the course with one arm behind our backs, singing “Tie my kangaroo down, sport,” it will be an improvement on the ghastly system CONGU has saddled us with for the last 13 years.
The new year is exciting in lots of ways. As you are taking the last vestiges of tinsel down, I shall be putting one of my presents to good use on the snowy French slopes. After my joyous introduction to the Ski Mojo last year, that was at the top of my list to Santa, so I can’t wait to become the bionic skiing woman again shortly.
Another thing I am very excited about is the new golf season. This time last year I was very much immersed in the world of physio and rehab following my shoulder surgery, and as such, I had no expectations of playing well at all.
I saw the summer as a chance to slowly rebuild my swing, and work my way back into things gradually, paving the way for me to start again in earnest this year.
That was completely blown away when I ended up having one of my most successful seasons ever, so now I am slightly at a loss. If I see this as a chance to leap on from where I finished 2016, I will no doubt come down to earth with a bang very quickly.
In a moment of light relief, I thought it would be quite amusing to send two photos to my surgeon – one entitled ‘Last season’ which depicts me sling-bound and wearing my ice pack shoulder brace, and a corresponding ‘This season’, which happily shows me surrounded by silverware. My only accompanying message was, “Thank you for putting me back together again.”
Naturally, I assumed that would be the end of the matter, so was somewhat surprised when I started receiving phone calls and emails from the Manchester Arm Clinic asking to use the pictures (and my story) as part of their PR and press material.
Once I was fully functional again, I played in as many things as I could to make up for all my lost time, and that’s something I intend to do again.
One event I am really looking forward to is renewing my acquaintance with the Tassie Foursomes. It may have been operating since 1961, but after turning down several invitations to play in it, I finally made my debut appearance playing for Millfield last year – and I loved it.
Foursomes is not an easy format, especially when you don’t know your partner, and you have never played the venue before, but I fell in love with The Berkshire as soon as I laid eyes on the course. The event, which was originally played as medal foursomes, has now become Stableford foursomes and is open to past pupils (girls) of all independent schools.
Thirty-six holes is on the wrong side of enjoyable for me these days, so the 27-hole event – interspersed with a stunning lunch and a highly calorific afternoon tea – is probably the perfect formula.
Talking of favourite courses, I am also looking forward to playing in the county championships. Having mentioned that 36 holes is more of an endurance test now than an enjoyable romp in the countryside, I am only prepared to put myself through the potential purgatory of doing it for three consecutive days because it is at Handsworth.
Handsworth is where I played in my first county championships in 1985, so it seems quite fitting that it will probably be my last. My handicap came down to single figures in that inaugural year, but I still remember being rather shocked when I turned up and found out that it would be played off scratch so I wouldn’t be getting any shots!
Having said that, there was a nett trophy for the best morning 18-hole qualifying score – the Bridget Jackson Salver – which I managed to win. Funnily enough, I won the Salver again this year, for the third time, and as it had been so long between wins, I had forgotten all about my earlier triumphs!
I qualified for the knockout stages in about 8th place, and couldn’t understand all the whispering and why people were asking who I was. I then clearly remember knocking out one of the long established county players in the first round (whom, of course, I had never heard of) before receiving an absolute pasting at the hands of Ann Booth in the quarter finals.
My coach, Martin Hall, who has since gone on to be such a renowned golf teacher in America, was thrilled with how well I had done, whereas I was thoroughly subdued at having been soundly beaten!
I began by looking forwards, and finished by looking back. The circle of life seems to play out very neatly in golf!
To enter the 2017 Tassie Foursomes, at the Berkshire on June 12, contact organiser Pip Donnithorne: [email protected]