Saturday, July 23, 2005
The Eye Of The Storm
After five years in the wilderness, the Pub Golf Tournament of Edinburgh arrived back in town. 18 holes (pubs), 50 players, 20 strict rules and a river of will and determination from which even the most hardened drinkers took a dip before the match.
The players assembled in the Sportsters Bar on Market Street between 12 and 1pm. Shortly after one o'clock the match commenced with the first players setting off on a course more difficult than Royal Troon, and hillier than St.Andrews.
Here's a brief run-down of the rules for those still wondering. Pub Golf involves drinking; lots of it. Each of the 18 pubs is assigned a par; par 3 means you have to drink wine, par 4 a half-pint, and par 5 a pint. The par determines the number of strokes (drinks) you take to finish the drink. So on a par 5 you have to finish the drink in 5 drinks to make par. If you do it n 4 you score a birdie (-1). If you down it in 1, it's a hole in one and so on.
Other rules include the "no swearing rule" which incurs a 1-point penalty; using your right hand incurs a 2-stroke penalty; going to the toilet that isn't a designated watering hole means you score a penalty; the list goes on. As well as the normal pubs there are strategic menaces along the way too, such as the 'chill vodka hole'; the bunker hole (you have to down a shot to get out or you foul); the green cocktail hole; the one-legged hole; the list goes on.
In my group were Dave, Tom and Steve. Dave and Tom played steady games scoring holes in one on each hole, whereas my tactics involved around just trying to make it to the 18th in one piece.
After the fourth of fifth hole I started to feel the effects of not having much of a breakfast, but the intake of lager into my stomach seemed to hide the problem. Twice I failed to use my left hand (as early as the third pub) and twice my resulting language cost me more points.
By the 9th hole I was feeling the pace. Steve bowed out leaving me, Tom and Dave to soldier on. The truth was, I was beginning to struggle. By the time we arrived on the Royal Mile I knew it would take a magnificent effort to cross the finish line. Both Dave and Tom had scored holes in one on each hole so far and were clearly serious contenders for the title. News also reached us from the first group some other players were also scoring holes in one on each hole. It was setting up to be a titanic battle for supremacy.
At The Bank we hit the bunker hole and the Shot of the day contained vodka, gin, tequila and Worcester Sauce. It was hot, strong, smelled rank but we took the bravely. At The Filling Station the rule was nobody could talk and so a stream of fifty people passed through all day signalling their orders in sign language or by any means they could muster. By the time we arrived at The Jolly Judge Sandy - a pal of Daves - joined us and I was really feeling the pace. At the Carwash I faired not much better and at Bar Kohl I had to pass on the chilli vodka. It cost me a penalty but I was glad. There was simply no way I was drinking it, as I knew I would vomit as soon as it touched my lips. I was about 5 or 6 under par so still going good but I was slowing fast.
Skipping the chilli vodka didn't stop the inevitable however and half way down Chambers Street, my guts opened and several streams of projectile vomit met with the air. A stream of lager-loaded spew confronted the tourists of Edinburgh and I'm sure I saw several odd stares and people pointing at me from the corner of my eye. I certainly heard roars of laughter from my team-mates; couldn;t have missed it.
We arrived at Bar Oz and I took a seat with a pint of water but it was no good; I was out the game after 12 holes and I knew it. For some reason I rang Gail and asked if I was allowed to come home. Within ten minutes I was in a taxi. By 6pm I was home and searching for my bed.
I vaguely remember seeing Gail and Ian in the house before I hit the sack, where I stayed more or less until 9am the next morning.
As far as Pub Golf goes, it was not my finest hour. From what I heard later, Dave went on to win the tournament with 18 holes in one. Tom lost out for using his right hand on a couple of occasions.
If there were pub golf next year, I would have to be a serious doubt for entry after my dismal display. Perhaps if there's a Seniors Tour I could be persuaded to make a comeback, or maybe I'll copy Zander's tactics and sip lager the whole way round.
Pub Golf is harder than it sounds. It takes guts of steel and will of metal and my attempt was shocking; woeful in the extreme. Full marks to everyone who made it; it's one storm I will be avoiding in future.
I think I'm getting tool old for this sort of thing.
(some pictures may follow tomorrow)