There are few harder challenges to a golfer’s sense of etiquette than when it is pouring down. When you set out with two playing companions for a monthly medal it is right and proper you all return together; if not successfully then, at least, in harmony.
Unfortunately, rain can have a dissolving effect on the resolution of some of us and I suspect much depends on the state of your card when the wet starts penetrating the nether regions.
With regular partners, you have a good idea of your collective attitude to playing in the rain. Some will head for the bar at the first appearance of a dark cloud; others will give it ten minutes before deciding whether it is a passing shower or ‘ in for the day’.
But playing in a medal with unfamiliar partners it becomes a more delicate and diplomatic decision. If there is a good card blossoming among the three of you then it is matter of honour that, no matter how foul the weather, the possessor is accompanied for as long as he wants to be.
Whatever the circumstances, however, it is not done to be the first to bring up the subject. You may be desperate to call it a day but you’d prefer someone else to moot it. Saying; ‘How much longer are we going to put up with this crap‘ is not very helpful when the other two are trying to concentrate.
Neither is moaning about your shoes leaking or your grip being affected. You have to soldier on until a natural consensus arrives.
In the May medal I was playing with one of my regular partners, Max Kipling, and Alan Davies, who was coach to the Welsh rugby team in 1991-95 and was previously coach to Nottingham RFC and a member of the England coaching staff.
Rain had been forecast but we were hoping we could get in a good few holes before it struck. Unfortunately, it started before we got to the first tee and the gloomy sky was scarcely promising.
It wasn’t too bad for the first few holes but it was gradually getting worse. We took it like the brave souls we are but it wasn’t easy going especially not for me. Because of my chemo I am not playing regularly and my game is not even up to my low standards.
I wasn’t complaining because I was delighted to be out and I’m happy enough to get around in whatever state. But when we got to the halfway house after the eighth hole the rain was starting to be a real pain.
Still, we munched our meat pies without even a mention of quitting. One of the group behind us poked his head around the cabin door and asked: ’Are you boys hoping to hear the hooter?’
The hooter is sounded when they decide to cancel the round and call everyone in. We assured him we were going on but they were welcome to go through. He said they wanted to stop for refreshment.
When we walked out to the tee and gazed up the ninth, it wasn’t an inviting sight. The ninth is a 533 yard uphill par five which takes you away from the clubhouse towards the furthest extreme of the course.
The rain seemed to be getting worse and I didn’t fancy it at all. I’d already scored 65 and my prospects of bettering that on the back nine were slim but I wasn’t going to be the first to buckle.
Then one of us, I can’t remember who, said it would be just our luck if they called it off when we got to the far end of the course. Then we agreed that the greens were already showing signs of ponding.
There was a unanimous turn of the bodies back towards the clubhouse. ’No point in going on,’ was the tacit agreement. Nobody was more delighted to see us depart than the group behind us. We’d made up their minds as well and as soon as they finished their pies they followed us home.
When we got back to the clubhouse a few hardy souls were on their way out. We warned them but they wouldn’t listen. We were comfortably ensconced in the bar three-quarters of an hour later when the hooter sounded to postpone proceedings. We felt good — home and dry and with honour intact.