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.”
“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.”
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