In his latest magazine contribution in the section dedicated to golf’s triers, ANDY CAPOSTAGNO talks about his home comforts.
Many years ago I lived on the Montagu Course at Fancourt. My house was in a panhandle nestled between the 16th
tee box and the 11th green. My office looked out on to the 16th, and it was here that I wrote such bestsellers as
Jonty in Pictures, Memorable Moments in One Day Cricket and Fancourt: The Road to The Presidents Cup.
It was Raymond Chandler who said, ‘Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until your forehead starts to bleed.’ He would have had full sympathy when, during the long summer days, I developed a debilitating habit. I would wait for the last golfers to come past my front door, abandon work for the day, pop the lid off a cold bottle of beer and head out to play ‘The Triangle’.
The Triangle was the 16th, 11th and 12th – two par fours and a par three. If my swing was behaving itself, I could play them with a driver, 7-iron, sand-wedge and putter. Needless to say, my swing rarely behaved, so I would usually take a full bag with me. At the very least it contained spare balls and extra beer.
It was easy in these circumstances to become proprietorial. When a particularly dilatory fourball came to the 16th as the sun was ducking behind the Outeniqua Mountains, I would get quite grumpy, knowing The Triangle would not be accomplished that evening. ‘What are these people doing on my golf course?’ I would mutter under my breath.
Worst of all was Christmas Day. Fancourt would not take bookings for 25 December, allowing members to wander the estate at their leisure, playing whatever sequence of holes took their fancy. Inevitably, a pleasant day out turned into a reconstruction of Sunday, 3 September 1967, the day Sweden abandoned driving on the left-hand side of the road and adopted driving on the right.
People were playing holes in reverse, moving between the Montagu and the Outeniqua courses with gay abandon, taking shortcuts through other residents’ gardens and generally acting with an excess of Yuletide spirit.
One year, my brother-in-law, for whom golf was less a game for gentlemen than an exercise in anger management, decided Christmas Day could not be allowed to end until he had hit a ball on to the green at the short 17th. This par three is based on the 12th at Augusta National and asks you to carry the ball about 130m over water. Or not, as was the case with my brother-in-law.
He hacked and huffed and heaved and emptied his bag of balls into the lake. Only they weren’t his balls, they were mine. Pro V1s to you and I, mere ammunition to him. Finally, I persuaded him to turn his back on the impossible task and play the 11th to get back home. He couldn’t, of course, since his ammunition was used up.
On Boxing Day he apologised for his behaviour and presented me with a sleeve of Top-Flites. Extra hard. You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.