• Crossing the divide

    Justin Rose
    Justin Rose and wife Kate Rose give the thumbs up

    At the end of the Hong Kong Open, Justin Rose announced that his wife, Kate, would be his caddie at his next event.

    The Indonesian Masters in Jakarta spans the Roses’ wedding anniversary and he said: ‘It’s going to be a whole different type of challenge … She knows as much about golf as my little eight-year-old. We’ll make it fun.’

    To which all I can say is, good luck. I have some experience of spousal caddying and if I were a betting man I would not be backing Justin in Jakarta. Let me tell you why.

    Years ago my wife and I relocated to Fancourt in the lovely town of George. All was well until a Scottish friend, who happens to be a professional golfer, arrived for his annual tilt at the Sunshine Tour. He would habitually rise at 6am and be on the 1st tee before the members had shaken off their hangovers. His one ball could navigate the Montagu course in 90 minutes and he’d be back at my house in time for breakfast.

    After a while, my wife thought it might mitigate the absence of rent from our guest if she were to take some golf lessons as payment in lieu. After a week of the lessons she was deemed ready to join him on the dawn patrol and the pair of them would sprint round in a couple of hours.

    Inevitably, with my wife being the polymath in the family, her handicap started to tumble and within a year she was installed as Fancourt ladies captain. Twice a week she would lead the ladies team into league action.

    This being Fancourt, most of her team were somewhat long in the tooth, but the Ernie Els Academy, based at the resort, had a string of promising youngsters who would frequently augment the side. Lee-Anne Pace was the best known and Monique Smit, now a regular in the winner’s circle, came under my wife’s wing at the age of 14 and with a handicap of two.

    One day my wife decided to enter the regional matchplay championship and after winning her first two at home, she had to travel to Riversdale for the next round. ‘Well, I’m not doing anything,’ I announced boldly. ‘I’ll come and caddie for you.’ Big mistake.

    First of all, there was the venue. Riversdale is about an hour’s drive down the Garden Route from George and its nine-hole course, while charming, was not, how shall we say, in quite the same condition as we were used to at Fancourt.

    A short-iron into the 1st hit a rock and skipped through the green into thorn bushes.

    A couple of swings in there and we were 1 down.

    On the 2nd my wife made the mistake of asking my opinion on a putt. I said left, it went right and we were 2 down. At this point, to misquote the immortal PG Wodehouse, frost began to form on my wife’s upper slopes. By the time we reached the turn we were 5 down and it was decided the caddie could be dispensed with. Thus unencumbered, my ever-competitive wife made a fist of things on the back nine, but eventually succumbed 2 & 1.

    It was a quiet drive back to George, but at least it was only an hour. By contrast, the Rose family resides in the Bahamas, which is approximately 18,000km from Jakarta.

    That’s a long time for golfing recriminations to marinate. Don’t do it, Justin. Please.

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