Just like sun tans, holiday romances and/or friendships rarely endure. They’re usually things of their time and place and they can’t easily be replicated or prolonged. Although not always, as happened to us some 18 years ago on a disappointingly cold all-inclusive holiday in Turkey when we encountered a couple with four very young children to go with our three young boys. We bonded over fatigue and an acceptance that none of us would finish our airport novels.
Since then much has happened to both families…
We made our fourth son (Paddy). Tom’s career happened and continues to dumbfound us all. Harry and Paddy have dipped tentative toes in to show business also. And Sam has chosen perhaps the hardest path of all; working in the kitchen at one of the United Kingdom’s most illustrious hotels.
Our friends also have had much to reckon with although they did not add to their family number. Their children are prodigiously sporty – playing professional football and scratch golf – and this week, so many of these strands and friendships collided when Tom and Harry were invited to play in the pro-am at the BMW PGA Championships at the salubrious Wentworth Golf Club on the outskirts of London.
Making up their four-ball were two professional golfers. Padraig Harrington, 3 times major champion and incumbent Ryder Cup Captain – and Scott Bailey, a professional golfer of less repute but not importance – to my boys anyway. Scott is the head professional at Porters Park Golf Club in Hertfordshire. A great mate of my boys who happens to be the eldest child of our Turkish holiday friends and whom we happen to be away with this week for a mini break to Gleneagles, Scotland for some late summer golf but mainly to visit our son, Sam.
Postponing our trip to accommodate Wentworth was never even discussed which is surely a good thing and a wise decision since technology and Instagram allowed us to follow the boys progress in the pro-am along with fans from around the world it seems.
No doubt, it was a special day for the boys and for their parents too, watching from afar. For us, a peculiar mix of fun, pride, fraternity and friendship.
Watching Tom wager Padraig Harrington that he could hit the 18th green from 248 yards over water, hitting his driver off the deck (fairway) – for a place on the Ryder Cup team was a surreal highlight. Had he made the shot, Padraig would have struggled to explain himself to either Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson or Robert McIntyre. Tom who? Are you f****** kidding me?
Scott forgetting his professional status and trying to tee off from the amateur tee was enjoyable also. He described his eventual first shot as the most nervous he’s ever been, something I can attest to and I have closed the late show at The Comedy Store. Harry being introduced on to the first tee as an ‘actor’ and Tom’s twin was memorable also.
Meanwhile, some four hundred miles north at a golfing venue even more illustrious than Wentworth another golf match was taking place – of much less significance but no less importance with Sam and I being joined by Scott’s old man for a round on the Queen’s course. On the hottest September day on record in Scotland, we arrive on the first tee at 4.20pm for our 4.30 start. I am nervous because by some distances I am the worst golfer and our wives are accompanying us also. Apparently, just to enjoy the walk, but I worry that Mrs Holland’s walk might be spoiled by the longer grass that her husband frequently plays from.
The starter on the tee smiles broadly.
“…I see your son has the longest celebrity drive at Wentworth today…”
This is not helpful and not just because I know this information already. It makes me more anxious that he knows who we are and that my son has hit a golf ball 310 yards. It is highly likely that he’s going to be disappointed by my first shot.
But then he adds,
“It’s unusual for a group pf golfers to be teeing off here at Gleneagles and it must feel like they’re missing out on golf elsewhere…”
A point well-made and it did the trick; it made us all laugh and it reminded us of our great family fortune.
If you enjoy my weekly blog, you might like to join my mailing list – (which I am now taking more seriously) – creating offers and exclusive content. You can sign up here and see for yourself.