The Anglo-Celtic Cup Golf Tour 2018 (Part 4 of 4)

Albufeira, Portugal • May 2018 • Length of Read: 8 Minutes • Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3


I awoke to find an empty room, George having most likely headed down for breakfast without bothering to give me as much as an indicatory nudge. Stretching, I stumbled to my feet and shuffled along the corridor towards the bathroom, the rush of blood to my head upon rising causing momentary dizziness followed by the feeling that someone was trying to hammer a nail into the top of my skull. I was in no state to play golf, and by the look of the two guys sprawled out on the living room sofas, neither were Russ and Nick. The pair hadn’t had but a wink of shut-eye, having returned from dinner and decided to stay up all night with a crate of beer. True golf Tour etiquette. Our only hope was that the English were in an equally dishevelled state.

For Saturday’s third round clash, I’d been paired with the very eager Sarge in what was billed to be a competitive wild-west shootout against Bradders and Streety. All three of these men had shown promising displays of high-calibre golf over the previous two days, and with the revised scoring format I’d have nobody to carry me and nowhere to hide. Up to that point, the matches had been played in a four-ball-better-ball format, in which the lowest score from each pairing is compared to decide the winner of each hole. The Saturday format, however, had been altered to make it a combined affair, with both playing partners’ scored added together before being compared to their opposition’s total. To put it simply, this means that if one person messes up then the hole is effectively lost. A dreadful scoring format that I would immediately eradicate where I to ever be awarded the honour of Celt captaincy.

Incidentally, in order to receive this privilege, one must first serve as vice-captain to their predecessor, and to be eligible for vice-captaincy selection Tour rules state that you must have participated in a minimum of three Tours prior to this. As a result of these stringent regulations, no individual in the history of the Anglo-Celtic Cup has served multiple stints as captain, making it the most difficult segment of the still-elusive Holy Grail to tick off. Laid out on parchment by Tour’s Founding Fathers, the Holy Grail can only be obtained when a Tour player has served time as world number 1, won the annual Tour Championships (a separate event from Tour), and led their team to victory on Tour itself. Many a player has completed two out of three, but as of yet nobody has stamped their name on the Grail and confirmed themselves as the G.O.A.T – Greatest of all Time.

“I’m expecting a good showing from you today, Crobs,” said Sarge as I hopped into the passenger seat of our buggy and we set off down to the first tee. I was definitely in no state to be driving, be that in a cart along cobbled paths or with a wood in my hands from a tee box. Drawing my 3-iron from its holster I shook hands with Bradders, wishing him luck, before taking one look at Streety and bursting out into laughter. He was looking remarkably fresh for someone who’d been absolutely hammered in a kebab shop just a few hours previously, but how either of us could take this duel seriously with the antics of the previous evening still fresh in our minds was beyond me.

Bradders, on the other hand, was raring to go, having recently taken up a stringent exercise regime that had him running 5kms before breakfast and laying off the booze. Refraining from drinking spirits isn’t exactly in the spirit of Tour though, I have to say, and as his opening tee shot split the middle of the fairway I was still trying to rinse the taste of tequila shots from my mouth, which was as dry as Gandhi's flip-flops.

Taking a few feeble practice swings, I then addressed my opening shot. Were I to have received a Police sobriety test at that point I would have failed it with spectacular colours, and as I squinted at the tee peg with blurred vision I could make out about three balls sitting atop it. ‘Here goes nothing,’ I thought to myself, and with all eyes of Tour on me I hacked at it with the finesse of a lumberjack. The ball squirted off the hosel and shanked straight-right into a lake that acted as a hazard on a completely different hole. My playing partner just shook his head in despair.

Having matched my opening 7 with an equally disastrous 7 on the following hole, Sarge and I reached the short par-3 3rd one-down and most definitely on the back foot. As I rolled in a 20ft right-to-left breaker for a birdie two, however, and Bradders failed to convert a near-gimmie tap-in, we were back on level terms. And when my stinger of a 3-iron approach under a stiff breeze to the well-guarded par-4 4th landed like a feather a mere 5ft from the pin, my confidence was restored. Unfortunately, however, the farcical change to the scoring format made what would otherwise have been an enthralling game a rather tedious and sorry affair; every mistake accompanied with a slew of apologies and unfulfilled promises of redress.

As the course wound its way out from the clubhouse we were matching one another blow for blow, but as we made our way around the turn a number of fortuitous members’ bounces and get-out-of-jail-free golf put Bradders and Streety in the driving seat. A series of reckless tee shots from our opponents, which you’d have bet your bottom dollar were goners, were found in very playable lies, and as Sarge and I failed to carry one another’s errors the wheels began to fall off the wagon. As much as we tried to cling on in there, in no time at all we were staring down the barrel of a rather hefty defeat, and Streety dealt a decisive blow with an exquisite birdie on the most difficult hole on the course to seal a somewhat deserved 5&4 victory.

Saturday is known as ‘moving day’ for a reason and, despite Aaron’s table-topping performance, the Celts didn’t fare well across the board in the combined four-ball format. The English had eaten into a big chunk of the lead we’d manage to amass over the first two days’ competition, and we would be heading into the final day singles matches with our noses 10-8 in front. It was still all to play for, but we were in prime position to make it rain and end the five-year winless drought.


The Celts were all out in black polo shirts and beige shorts for the Sunday singles, with eight hours kip under our belts, no hangovers, and eyes firmly on the prize. 12 singles matches meant that 12 points were up for grabs, and we needed 6 of them to ensure that the trophy would be coming home in the bag of Garrett, our motivational captain, that evening. I had been pitted against the frustratingly slow-playing Westy in the penultimate group, and accompanying me in the Celt’s buggy was to be George, my Kiwi brother, roommate, and opponent of Webby. The hour of reckoning was upon us.

George had a challenge ahead of him from the get-go as he knocked his opening tee shot on the Faldo course out-of-bounds, but I, somewhat uncharacteristically, smashed one straight down the middle and raced into a one-hole lead. The 13 strokes I was ceding to my unwieldy opponent, however, got him back into it, and despite being four Stableford points up at the turn I found myself one down in the match play stakes. I was swinging well, but Westy’s ludicrous four-net-two on the 8th, canned 50ft putt from off the green on the par- 6th, and snap-hook recoveries from nearly every tee box weren’t allowing me the walk in the park I’d somewhat naively envisaged.

Webby, on the other hand, was imploding like a chain of ticking time-bombs. Having had an absolute shocker of a front 9, he managed just a solitary Stableford point on the back half to gift George a 6&5 victory, despite his playing partner putting his body on the line to help out a lost cause. Westy, aforementioned as having incredibly poor course management, found himself sauntering aimlessly across the 12th green when a ball struck him square in the chest and knocked him to the deck. Webby had been playing a blind shot into the pin and hadn’t realised where his fellow Englishman was. The result was a rather winded Westy, and Webby having a 20ft putt for par as opposed to raking around in the bushes at the back of the green where his ball would more-than-likely have otherwise come to rest. Despairingly, he still found a way to three-putt and lose the hole, however.

“That was a horrific golf shot,” I said to Westy as his drive on the par-4 14th was topped straight into the foliage at the front of the tee box, causing George to burst out laughing. Any form of course etiquette had been wiped out by the speed of Westy’s play. Shorelines erode quicker than it takes for the man to line up a clutch putt. One of the course martials had parked his buggy at the top of the hill and, with a member of the establishment gazing down at him, Westy had folded like a deck chair. I took the hole with a well-constructed par and a short while later found myself standing on the 16th tee in a dormie 3 position.

But it ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and despite my unassailable lead I’m gutted to say that my nerves got the better of me. A three-putt followed by two shanks on the 17th and 18th, and I found myself shaking Westy’s hand for a halved match. To use the official terminology: I’d ‘shat it’.

At the end of the day though, the result didn’t matter, with an elsewhere dominant display from the Celts providing us with a winning margin of 18-11. For the first time in half-a-decade, the trophy belonged to those with Welsh, Irish and Scottish blood in their veins. And we weren’t going to let the English forget that any time soon. As everyone bode farewell at the airport that evening and went their separate ways, Garrett promised to give the trophy the lap-of-honour that it deserved. The very next day, our group chat received a photo of him holding the Anglo-Celtic Cup aloft in front of the Eiffel Tower – two iconic images brought together in the same picture. It had been a joyous, loose, entertaining, and competitive long-weekend. I couldn’t wait to return to the fold the following year and contribute to the defence of what was now rightfully ours.

Tour website: https://angloceltic.weebly.com/

The Anglo-Celtic Cup Golf Tour 2018 (Part 3 of 4)

Albufeira, Portugal • May 2018 • Length of Read: 8 Minutes • Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 4


Benefiting from having already played it during Wednesday’s practice round, Greg and I drew upon our invaluable knowledge of the layout and dangers presented by the Faldo championship course to close out a 3&2 victory against the Fitzy and Westy in our second-day four-ball match; securing my first point for the Celts in the process. Fitzy, who had been as steady as a rock when matched against me the previous day, made a number of uncharacteristic errors in the unforgiving and windy conditions, the culmination of which was a topped wedge off the tee on the signature par-3 16th that effectively handed us the win. Perhaps his playing partner’s disastrous course management had put him off his game.

A quality and amicable guy, not as much could be said of the way that Westy navigated and plotted his way around the Portuguese resort golf courses that week. Despite owning a relatively high handicap of 25, the Englishman played at the speed of a PGA tour professional with serious financial consequences and silverware on the line. Following a lengthy deliberation and internal monologue of how he was going to play each shot that lay in front of him, Westy would then take an alarming number of practice swings before addressing the ball and standing over it for what seemed like an eternity.

If so much as a lick of breeze were to then tickle the hairs on the back of his neck he would consciously step back from the shot, stick his arm out horizontally in the air to try and effectively gauge the wind speed and, once content, restart the entire rigmarole from the beginning. Nine times out of ten, he would then duff the ball along the ground, with the other one out of ten turning out to be an absolute peach. “Still you,” I found myself calling out to him from across the fairway on more than one occasion. Playing golf with Westy would test the patience of even the Dalai Lama.


A depleted squad headed into Albufeira Old Town that evening, with a number of the more mature-in-age lads having decided to forego the ‘Freaky Friday’ shenanigans for some fine dining at a bourgeois seafood restaurant instead. As I stood on the dancefloor of the same shitty bar where we’d called it quits the previous evening, however, taking in the spectacle and debauchery that surrounded me, I couldn’t have been happier with my decision.

A faction of Tour’s Founding Fathers were perched at the bar, laughing away as a gorgeous barmaid in tight red jeans and sexy Harry Potter-style glasses kept the Sambuca flowing; Aaron was in the corner chatting up a red-hot Irish girl in a bright pink dress, no doubt regaling travel tales from far flung destinations; Webby had mounted a stripper pole and was busting some moves in front of an encouraging hen party audience, all whilst maintaining the facial expression of a lost puppy; the hot-pant wearing pre-op tranny who Garrett had been entertaining the previous evening was strutting his stuff on stage, and gave me an acknowledging wink as I clapped his dance moves. ‘I fucking love golf tour,’ I bellowed out loud.

The night raced by in a whirl of drinks, lights and colours, and as time ticked into the early hours of the morning I found myself staggering down a side street with Webby, Bentley and Streety in tow. Before we could reach the taxi rank, however, we were coerced into a late-night fast food diner by a cute local girl in a woollen fleece that bore the logo of the establishment. Despite the humidity of the Portuguese summer evenings, however, she was as cool as a cucumber and didn’t even look like breaking into a sweat.

“Hi Varna,” I said as we took a table.

“How do you know my name?” she asked with a quizzing smile.

“It’s written on your nametag.”

“You must be the sober one of the group to notice that,” she chuckled.

“I wouldn’t go that far,” I slurred.

“Do you do burgers?” asked Webby as he glanced over the laminated menu that Varna had handed him with a slanting, drunken gaze. He clearly wasn’t taking any of it in.

“Yes, we do.”

“Ice Cream?”



“Yes,” laughed Varna. “We do pretty much everything.”

“I’ll have two pizzas and two pints of beer then, please,” said Webby, managing to hold himself together in a rather impressive manner.


“I bet you 10 Euros that you can’t down one of those pints,” chuckled Streety, scooping up a slice of Hawaiian pizza and letting it fall into his wide open gullet. Nobody else had bothered getting any food, knowing fine well that there would be plenty of leftovers going spare.

“Watch me,” boasted Webby, picking up one of the beers and dutifully necking it before crashing his forehead down onto the table. Impressed, we also agreed it was a sign that we should probably start thinking about going home. There were important golf matches to be played in just a short few hours’ time lest we forget.

As we waved goodbye to Varna and exited out into the fresh air in search of a taxicab, two burly lads talking in a rather familiar dialect walked past. It turned out that they were from Bathgate, a town in the central belt of Scotland, and in a stroke of luck were also on a golfing getaway at the same resort as us. Despite having had four rounds booked, however, they’d only ventured out for a solitary game so far, the hangovers on the other days too much to bare. What ‘softcocks’!

“I’ve had an average spend of €600 per night here,” chuckled Euan, the elder of the two, as we headed up the cobbles and away from the treachery of the Old Town. “But then at only €20 a dance in the strip club, how can you turn that down?  Sometimes, if you’re lucky, they’ll give you oral towards the end of their performance… or even shag you.”

“Are you sure you didn’t inadvertently walk into a brothel?” I laughed.

“Now you mention it…” began Euan, pausing for a moment’s reflection, “that would explain a lot.”

I was quickly getting the impression that he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but before I could take this rather comical line of questioning any further a blacked-out people carrier pulled up alongside us. Just as I thought we were going to be kidnaped, robbed, and raped, however, the window rolled down to reveal the toothy smile of a friendly Portuguese man.

“Hey Pavel,” said Euan, sliding open the passenger door. “Great timing. Do you guys want a lift back to the resort at all?” he asked. “There’s plenty of space and we’re heading there anyway.”

“Absolute lifesaver,” I exclaimed. At that very moment Webby had decided to mount a waist-high wall, and without the intervention of Euan coaxing him down and into the back seat he may well have gone the way of Humpty Dumpty. The fact that he would go on to win his third-day tie in emphatic style was nothing short of miraculous.

I hopped into the front seat as Pavel’s shotgun ride, taking him a little by surprise, and he set off on our half-hour commute back to the resort. The digital clock on the dashboard read 04:08 am.

“Are you still on for me picking you up in three hours then?” he said to Euan as he dropped the Bathgate boys off in villa block B.

“Why?” asked Euan with panic-stricken eyes.

“Are you not going to the airport?” laughed Pavel.

“Oh shit!” he exclaimed. “I’ve not even packed.”

Tour website: https://angloceltic.weebly.com/

The Anglo-Celtic Cup Golf Tour 2018 (Part 2 of 4)

Albufeira, Portugal  •  May 2018  •  Length of Read: 5 Minutes • Part 1 / Part 3 / Part 4


The opening hole on Amendoeira Resort’s O’Connor course is a lengthy dogleg par 5, its wide and welcoming fairway lined at the extremities by a creek which wraps around to create a run-out zone about 250 yards from the tee box. The hole then swoops to the left, where mischievous fairway bunkers play with your lay-up shot before the back-to-front sloping green provides a modicum of respite for the inaccurate golfer. A slight headwind could be felt as we drove our buggies in convoy from the clubhouse down to the first tee, an amphitheatre setting being created for the commencement of the Anglo-Celtic Cup’s latest edition.

As the Celts all stood there in matching pink polo shirts and beige (definitely not grey) shorts, history was ready to be written. Having hit a series of dreadful shots on the practice range that very morning I was feeling rather nervous but hoped that I could hold it together. Whilst the first group posed for a photo, I gave a wry smile in the direction of my playing partner, Morray. The stage was set. It was game on.

Like all great leaders, both captains had decided to lead from the front, and as a tense hush fell over the first tee each player in the opening four-ball proceeded to impressively smash their drive straight down the middle of the fairway. As they then scooted off in their buggies, I took a 3-iron from my bag. Garrett had jotted down the Celts’ detailed tactics and well-thought-out game plan on the back of a restaurant napkin the previous evening after having consumed four pints of Super Bock lager and, as a result, Morray and I were up next. My fellow Scot and I had been drawn against the English pairing of Fitzy and Webby in what was sure to be a tightly-fought contest.

When Morray, who had been billed to me as Mr Consistency, snap-hooked his drive into the creek on the left, however, and I then stood up and shanked one into the waterside reeds on the right, our opposition may have thought differently. It wasn’t the start we were after, but once away from the gallery of watchful eyes I managed to somehow zig-zag my way along the first hole and come away with a bogey nett par for the win. Now one-up, what ensued was a cagey, see-saw battle.

We were pegged neck-and-neck as we reached the turn, some rather ropey and suspect golf being played by all parties involved, until Fitzy, the lowest handicapped golfer in our four-ball, put together a string of good holes. I tracked in a long-range birdie putt from all the way across the 12th green to steal one back, but Webby was able to cancel this out on the par 3 that followed by sinking an equally-monstrous putt of his own for a two. Despite our best efforts, the Englishmen managed to keep a hold of their slender lead for the remainder of the back 9 and we fell to a deserved 2&1 defeat. Battle of Bannockburn, it was not to be.

There had been a glimmer of hope on the 14th fairway when Webby’s approach to the narrow par 4 veered straight to the right and landed plop in the middle of a picturesque lake, but it was agreed that his ball had connected with one of the overhead power lines that crossed the course. Checking the rules on the back of the scorecard, he was allowed to replay the shot, and subsequently knocked his mulligan attempt onto the fringe of the green from where he got up and down for a four net three and took the hole. Sometimes you get the rub of the green, and sometimes it’s just not your day in the office I suppose. Regardless, the rest of the Celtic partnerships had fared better, and we finished the day with a commanding 4-2 lead over the defending champions.


Once the final shots of the day had been played everyone congregated on the clubhouse balcony for a bite to eat, celebratory/commiseration beers, and a run-down of how each others' rounds had faired. The scores were then announced before the pairings for the following day revealed. I would be forming a rookie pairing with Greg and also given a chance for redemption against Fitzy, who had this time been paired with another fresh recruit in the form of Westy. Knowing that a key to victory would be how well we communicated and operated as a unit, Greg and I decided to start our partnership there and then by teaming up as drinking buddies.

After quickly showering off the sun cream and buttoning up a trademark checked shirt, I jumped in one of the numerous taxis that had been booked to ferry us the half-hour into Albufeira’s Old Town. All twenty-four boys were in attendance, each in a different state of intoxication, and there was a feeling of a bachelor party about the place as we unloaded at the drop-off point. A stag do without a stag.

It was your typical Brits abroad scene as we marched down the neon-lit cobbled street, plastic seating and booming music spilling out from every bar and club, drinks promos the order of the day, and drunken, sunburnt groups of tourists getting rather loose and yelling in the Queen’s English. I got flashbacks to my boys’ holiday to Zante in 2009 and coming-of-age scenes I’d rather blinker from my mind.

From his exuberant antics in the clubhouse bar, I’d already deduced that Garrett would be one of the loosest of the group, but as he ran around the highly-concentrated area of bars chatting and joking with everyone he bumped into, sweated profusely on nightclub podiums, and danced provocatively with a pre-op tranny wearing a pair of denim hot-pants that showed off his great arse as well as his knob, I quickly developed a newfound respect and loyalty for our team captain.

“Are you guys here on a stag do?” asked a girl from London as we moved from one bar to the next, Webby jeering from a balcony on the opposite side of the street from where we were currently downing shots, shots, shots and indicating to us that the party was definitely where he was at.

“Golf tournament,” I responded to her in a blasé and deadpan manner. “9th edition of the Anglo-Celtic Cup.”

As she took in Morray’s fantastic ‘grandpa-at-a-wedding-style’ dance moves and tried to make heads-or-tails of what I’d just said, the look of confusion on her face was priceless.

“Please tell me you’ve heard of it?” I added. “It’s quite a big deal and we’re only a quarter of the way into it. There’s still all to play for.”

Tour website: https://angloceltic.weebly.com/

The Anglo-Celtic Cup Golf Tour 2018 (Part 1 of 4)

Albufeira, Portugal • May 2018 • Length of Read: 5 Minutes • Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4


After seven hours spent reading John Steinbeck’s very average Cannery Row and intermittently staring out the window at the rolling English countryside, the train I rode on eventually trundled its way into Cheltenham Spa station. As is came to a hissing stop I lugged my golf clubs onto the platform, navigated my way through the ticket barrier, and entered the car park to be flooded by the baking south-west sun and the sight of two very familiar faces.

Seventeen months had passed since best friends and travelling companions George and Aaron had bid their farewells to me in Queenstown, but save a few additional stereotypical traveller tattoos their time spent bartending in Australia seemed to have treated them well. Our bromance had been forged over a month-long period circumnavigating New Zealand on a hop-on-hop-off party bus and served as the primary artery running through the pages of my third published paperback Kiwi, Kiwi. Such was the depth of our flashpacking relationship, we’d kept in frequent touch throughout our respective jaunts through Oceania, South-East Asia, Europe and back to the island we all called home.

George had been going on an annual team golf holiday for the previous six years, and as the event rolled around for its ninth showcase he’d asked if Aaron, myself, and their mutual friend Greg would like to be new recruits for the 12-man Celts team aiming to end a slew of English victories that stretched back for half a decade. Having started out as a lads’ weekend getaway the event had since grown arms and legs, with the forthcoming edition set to pit the two opposing teams against one another in a four-day Ryder Cup-style format on a pair of resort courses in Albufeira, Portugal. George had billed it as ‘the hardest four days of golf and drinking in the calendar year’ and I’d accepted and paid my deposit in a flash.

Absolutely ravenous following my journey down from Glasgow, I was delighted to hear that Aaron’s Grandpa had put on a barbecue for the whole family and that the invite had been extended out to myself. He had been born and raised in the Welsh valleys, hence Aaron’s link to the Celts team, and as I munched down a succulent burger and slugged on a bottle of beer he told me about his time spent bringing electricity to the Scottish isles, having seen Jonah Lomu make his international rugby debut for New Zealand as a teenager at the Hong Kong 7s, and asked questions about what my time on the road had been like in the company of his grandson. A truly humble and fascinating man.

A brief stop at the shops to stock up on sun cream also saw Aaron purchase the tightest pair of shorts alive (or so I thought…), before we went for a stroll around the Spa’s beautiful city centre where a jazz festival had been taking place that previous weekend. As the sun began to set and a chilly breeze blew through the air we then headed up to George's estate; the electric gates opening to a sweeping driveway that made the house on the hill look like a cross between a mafia hangout and the set of a rap music video. With our flight leaving from Gatwick at 6am the following morning, and a two hour drive to the airport standing in the way, we had a few ciders whilst reminiscing about life on the Kiwi bus before attempting to get a few hours shut-eye; Aaron and I sharing a bed in the spare room and the second hand of the clock on the wall taunting us with every tick-tock.


Nothing but the two beams from the headlights illuminated our way as we whistled along the tree-lined single-lane roads of Gloucestershire’s backcountry, Aaron crushing a can of Red Bull behind the wheel, the digital dashboard clock reading 01:30, Lady Gaga spluttering through the radio static, and George asleep in the back as I rode shotgun. Greg, the d’Artagnan to our Three Musketeers status, had been a ‘softcock’. Instead of wanting to get up early for the drive he had travelled across to Gatwick the evening before and spent the night in an airport-adjoining hotel; the type of establishment where lonely businessmen get microwaved room service on expenses followed by handjobs from low-self-esteem escorts (or so I’ve heard?). At least he joined in on the round of 4am departure lounge pints after we’d wasted half-an-hour dragging the golf clubs from one end of the airport to the other in an attempt to find the oversized luggage bag drop.

Softcock - A gentleman who fails to meet the standards expected of him by his peers.

Speaking of our bags, George had been so concerned by our 20kg weight limit that he’d taken a set of bathroom scales out to the car with him so as to weigh the clubs once they’d been packed in their protective cases. His concerns about our breaching of the weight limit turned out to be unjustified, however, when the airport employee didn’t even bat an eyelid as she sent them along the conveyor belt. You’d have thought we were boarding the Apollo Space Shuttle as opposed to an Easyjet flight by the way his brow furrowed at the issue.

A few other lads were getting the same flight as us – Gerry, John Moore and Talbot – and we were to be sharing a shuttle to the resort with a bunch of guys from Bristol whose flight landed a short time after ours. The thirteen of us then had a practice round booked on the Faldo course for that afternoon before the eleven remaining participants arrived in the evening. I necked a double espresso during the wait – or a ‘beaker’ as I was so informed they call it in Portugal – and then washed it down with a cider before boarding the transfer bus. This set me up in high energy and spirits, but when we hit a standstill motorway traffic jam it also had the unfortunate side effect of making me almost piss my pants. Only after and extreme amount of leg crossing and gentle coaxing of our driver, who found the incident far-too-funny, did he eventually agree to pull over and let me relieve myself in a roadside bush. What a great way to introduce myself to the lads.

Dumping my bag in the villa which I’d be sharing with George and a pair of other Celts in Russ and Nick, the latter a plus-handicapped former professional, it was then a dart to the first tee where I’d been paired with Aaron and Streety, a mild-mannered gent who’d been given the thankless task of organising the tour for this year alongside Garrett and Bentley, the respective Celt and English team captains for the 2018 showdown. Snapping at the ball, I sent my opening drive straight right and out-of-bounds, setting the standard of my golf for the day in the process. I proceeded to hack it about all afternoon, a few glimpses of the Junior Club Champion player I used to be appearing on the back nine with a run of birdies and pars, but all in all, I just wasn’t swinging as freely as I’d hope. “Oh well,” I joked with the boys. “Best to get all the bad shots out the way today I suppose.”

And as much as I respect and admire Nick Faldo as a figurehead of the British golfing landscape, I can’t say the same for the way in which he designs a golf course. On some of the par 4s I was having to take mid-irons off the tee just to avoid hazards, only to leave myself even longer approach shots in for my second than my first. At least the company was a pleasure.

Following a relaxed dinner that evening of a chicken baguette wrap and chips, what would become my staple diet for the entirety of the competition, Garret and Bentley arose from the head of the table to announce the pairings for the day one foursomes. We now had a full-house and the meal had been spent shaking hands and making introductions with the rest of the lads. I found myself being drawn in the second pairing alongside Morray, a fellow Scot and the current world number 1 – Yes, that’s right, there’s even a World Ranking system going on. I was itching to get one over on the English, especially considering their recent dominance of the event.

I’ve come to realise that I have a deep passion for watching England lose as sport, regardless of what it is. It’s their arrogance and lack of self-deprecation I can’t stand. Take cricket as an example. I have about as much interest in that sport as I do in television talent shows, but when I recently found out that Scotland were on the brink of a historic victory over the auld enemy from south of Hadrian’s Wall in a one day test I found myself absolutely rapt. Everything was tee’d up for it to be a cracking long weekend.

Tour website: https://angloceltic.weebly.com/