Where I’d like to be today

I’d love to see if Tiger Woods can win, despite still having a wonky knee. Torrey Pines is a bit like Lahinch or Ballybunion, but with better weather. (I grew up playing those courses and have loved them ever since.) Tom Watson famously described Ballybunion as “one of the best and most beautiful tests of links golf anywhere in the world”.

Later: I realised belatedly that the Lahinch site has a nice virtual tour of the course and the description of the 18th hole suddenly brought back one of the nicest memories I have of my golfing career.

A par five of five hundred and thirty-four yards. The drive crosses the line of holes four and five, to find a magnificently undulating, turbulent fairway alongside the road. These undulations continue right on up to the green, which has bunkers left and right. The green is sited close to the out of bounds, with mounds on the right and deep hollows on the left. It is a fine green on which to end the Lahinch experience.

I was playing a tense match and my opponent and I were level as we teed off. We were playing into the wind, so it seemed like a brutally long hole that day — so much so that for my third shot I needed a three or a four iron. In one of those magical moments that golfers never forget, I hit it perfectly and watched the ball ‘bisect the pin’ as it flew. It pitched onto the front of the green, braked and came to rest a foot from the hole. There was nothing my opponent could do about it, and I won the match. Pure magic. One of the most satisfying moments of my life.