One of my favourite audio books is Reginald Hill’s The Roar of the Butterflies, it is a slyly funny little book ( gruesome in parts as all good crime fiction should be) but overall it’s a gentle poke at those who find hitting a wee ball into a small hole that is so far away you can’t see it, entirely fascinating.
Let me state my case for the prosecution. Golf is a game not a sport, it’s a game of great skill as is darts and snooker but to me the definition of a sport is high level of personal fitness plays a very large part. Colin Montgomery makes my point.
And I believe the phrase ‘The Roar of the Butterflies’ was a quote from one of the golfing greats. When he was asked why a long putt went slightly awry, he said ‘the roar of the butterflies put me off’. When I suggested it might be Lee Travino, I am told that it sounds like him. Throughout the book Hill refers to his hero as the YFG, the young fair God. The young fair god in question is an upper class, beautiful young blond man who is terribly British and believes in fair play to all. That is in stark contrast to Hill’s character Joe Sixmith or as he is known in our house Joe Sexysmith the short, black, overweight, balding ex welder from Luton – but what a PI !
Rupert Penry Jones, A YFG!
So I would like to introduce you to our own young fair God. He appears in our house at times, a kind of blonde fuzzy haired long limbed creature who lounges about on the setee and does not move for hours on end. Occasionally he forages in the kitchen with the sensitivity of a plague of locusts. He leaves a trail of gentle destruction behind him. And if you speak to him the response is rarely a precise sentence- more like, a grunt.
He has a lot in common with a golden retriever.
Taken in South Africa. It looks like a Scottish teenager eating a bagel.
He is a teenager.
But strange things happens to this disconnected lump of bones and attitude when he has a stick in his hand and a ball to hit. He is as Johnny Tillitson once said ‘poetry in motion’ when he hits a ball. When our YFG hits a golf ball, people stand and watch.
They seem to treat their golfers rough in SA.
Is this the penalty for not getting the ball in the hole quick enough!
I suppose if you had to design a sportsman, you don’t go far from the blueprint of the YFG. He is tall broad shouldered and has a beautiful ergonomic balance of arm length and leg length. As a young child, he was good at all sports and then something happened and he recognised his talent for hitting a small ball into a small hole and to my mind the deeper and rarer talent of practice /practice/ practice. He has the discipline to do the same thing 100 times until he gets it right 99 times.
When he was 14, his parents were approached by an American University, impressed by his excellence on the golf course. They were a bit shocked to find out his age. That was Missouri University, the FYG calls it Mizzou. They have always been polite and gentlemanly in their approach to the parents, never pressuring the FYG but always supportive. As the FYG rocketed through the ranks in what seemed like a fortnight – soon he was Captaining the Scottish Boys team and leading them to victory all over Europe - some other Universities came on board dangling their winnebagoes and a fistful of dollars. But once the FYG found out there was compulsory attendance at Church, he said ‘stuff that for a game of soldiers’ in a very Scottish type of way and he is off to Mizzou.
Any more of that language young Jamie Me lad and you will be dunked again!
As some of you may know the FYG is Alan’s youngest son, and as I write this the Scottish Men’s Team have taken him to South Africa and I enclose some of his photographs for the enjoyment of Messers Trollop and Sears. That’s just before Stan hits himself in the forehead when I tell him that the FYG now has a handicap of plus 4 or more or less ... I’m never quite sure how that works. But the good side of zero.
One of these is good at golf.
Again the best thing about him is that his feet are firmly on the ground (apart from being a stroppy teenager) he is an intensely charismatic young man -one minute being interviewed on Sky Sports, the next minute on the hunt for Haribos. When asked in an interview ‘And what are you doing next?’ ( meaning, what’s next on the tour for you.’) He looked at his team mate and said, ‘I think we are going for a MacDonalds ).
I asked him once, if he would rather play badly and win, or play really well and lose. He answered the latter, which I thought was very mature for one who mistakes Doh for eloquence. During one big competition there was a delay, Jamie was playing with his friend and they decided just to swing from some trees. His coach said, at the end of the day no matter how many millions of pounds those ankles might be worth, at the moment they belong to a 15 year old boy, and 15 year old boys will do what they will do; swing from trees.
In the summer he was asked to play the Dunhill open at St Andrews. I think some big guys had dropped out and as a ‘novelty’ they asked the best two young Scots to get a bit of experience. He played with Robert Carlson who was lovely, gracious in his skill and knowledge to a 16 year old in front of ‘that crowd.’ But the YFG was not phased at all, not by the crowd, the superstars, the free stuff. He was not intimidated by the huge security guards, with their walkie talkies- by day two he was high fiving them. The organisers arranged for the FYG to stay at the Fairmont, then realised he was too young to stay there on his own. Leading to a daily cross country commute for Alan.
So in Autumn he is off to Mizzou, who already have a strong representation of Scottish boys pretending that they are academic by doing courses on Harry Potter Studies and the History of Jazz. Jamie has already been informed that his accent will make him a ‘pure hit with the girls’.
The latest news from South Africa where he is playing (at 17) in men’s competitions is that he has, so far, always made the cut and is currently skimming along under par. He’s in with the big boys but he’s holding his nerve and for those who are interested in such things I have been told on good authority that he is better than Rory McIlroy was at that age.
So far, so good and why we know we know deep down inside that it could all go wrong with one bad ankle injury, one sore wrist, young fair Gods do not allow such negativity to interrupt their dreams and ambitions.
They just hit that ball and watch it soar for miles …. And miles …. And miles…
Caro 17 02 2017