WITH JUST A TOUCH OF HESITATION, REPETITION AND DEVIATION
No one likes a judgemental nitpicker. No one more so than the (non-self appointed) navigator of a 250-plus mile journey from Londontown into neighbouring France.
Our driver had been hit on route by some rather somber news and was in an understandable state of mourning. The other was strangely arranged across the back seat, blissfully unaware of her surrounds and absorbed in the latest lifestyle review section of the Daily Telegraph. I wouldn’t have minded so much but I’m more of a Times of London kind of girl.
And so it was that I, a fresh faced young slip of a thing from the colonies, ended up with the weighty yet reluctant task of delivering our Press Golfing Society trio from England to take on the Northcliffe Society at Golf de Belle Dune on Promenade du Marquenterre in Fort Mahon. Ranked I’m told amongst the 10 finest French courses – but more about that later.
Having negotiated our motorcar into a less than cavernous train carriage at Folkstone in Kent, we emerged blinking thirty-five minutes later from Eurotunnel’s through-shuttle service at the gateway to France. Calais is the capital of lacemaking I’m told and sits between wild landscape and savage seas, with impressive chalky cliffs mirroring those on the English side of the channel.
It was at that point our grieving motorist handed me a scrap of paper with a map headed: “Getting from Eurotunnel Le Shuttle – very easy to find thanks to direct motorway links.” Quite! Every journey matters they say, and with interminable ardor, we/I set off down the A16 aglow with anticipation towards Le Touquet.
It was apparent during the drive that almost every region has something interesting to discover – quiet pokey villages, stunning scenery, historical buildings lost in the countryside. When most people think of France they think of fine Pinot and les moules, a laid back lifestyle which is the envy of the rest of the world and gorgeously diverse landscape – which has inspired centuries of influential writers, artists and poets.
Then just like that it happened … a sizeable illuminated road sign came into view: Cologne 320km. Brussels 140km. I held my breath as I sluggishly glanced across at the bereaved driver. “What fresh hell is this?” I shuddered to myself, heart pounding and now virtually breathless. I had expected signs towards Paris. Paris God dammit – the gooey romantic capital firmly on the side of the 35-hour working week! Cautiously I glanced across to the back seat passenger still blithely unaware while scrutinising the small print of the Telegraph’s Claret Club. To ignore this issue would be a serious abnegation of my responsibility. I said nothing and on we drove.
Desperately I tried to pull out of this spiral and consulted the grubby map once more as signs for Germany’s fourth-largest city loomed with needless regularity. Perhaps if I adopted the honesty best policy theme, these travellers would succumb to my Teutonic charms. Alternatively if we sidled onto a slip road, we could bypass the inevitable and delicately make our way back in a Paris-bound direction with an air of discretion and complete control over this piloting mishap.
Deep thinking was shattered by the emphatic bleep of a text message that rang out from my phone: ‘WELCOME TO BELGUIM’ it read. “Why can’t I just catch a break?” I heard myself mumble. The grief-stricken driver’s mobile bleeped too, followed by more sodding bleeps from the rear. My fate was sealed.
Better late than never, I turned to the wistful chauffeur whilst enjoying a master class in how not to bluff your way out of a crisis: “You might want to think about doing a U-turn any time now.”
As predicted the driver now fully vigilant bolted upright in her seat and glared across at me before some sonorous language of condemnation relished to the effect: “WTF Barlow?”
What can I tell you … I am as God made me!
WELL TRAVELLED CHAMPIONS
There is nothing to compare this golf course to. Literally nothing. It is neither links, parkland nor heathland. More duneland meets an unusual mix of awesomeness. It is said to be one of the finest golf courses in France and I know three weary travellers who would not dispute that. Belle Dune is situated in a stunning nature park and amongst some of the largest sand dunes in Europe. A constant WOW factor hits you on every hole, each so widely different from the next they verge on the dangerous, exciting and at times just a little bit scary. If you’re inclined to spray and pray, it’s worth remembering that accuracy beats length on this course. Except when playing off the white tees, then you best just grip it and rip it. Outstanding!
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I have a friend. He is a veteran golf writer, master of the English language and one of life’s fiercest critics when it comes to all things clichés. Not surprisingly this makes for dangerous ground since he not only frequents Golfmadchick.com, but as regular readers will know, this is a blog positively riddled with these vulgar, over-used, meaningless fillers.
According to him I am forbidden from using the words: picturesque, shrouded, idyllic, must see, etc. But since I have itchy feet and this blog is going somewhat off the beaten track, my January short sunshine break can only be described as, wait for it … a hidden gem! Read More
It’s midday and I am lying in bed with more drugs raging through my system than an aging rocker on a day trip to Pfizer’s world-renowned research lab. I have acute bronchitis. It is day eight. I wouldn’t mind so much, but it‘s the second bout in two months and what’s worse … it’s my office Christmas party tonight.
While friends and colleagues are reaching for their most festive bib and tucker, the postman is attempting to deliver yet another box of golf shoes through the front door. Only trouble is, every time I attempt a get-out-of-bed vertical manoeuvre, a drug induced head spin kicks in, resulting in an unseemly coughing fit which upsets the predictably unruffled pooch next door and drives our once hardcore postie to seek sanctuary at number 130. Read More
HONOURING THE FALLEN
The first thing that hits you are the crowds standing in their thousands side by side in respectful ghostly stillness interrupted only by random bursts of camera flashes.
“Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” is a reminder that the best art can imitate life — and death. The poppy is a simple, yet significant symbol. One poppy. One life.
Hearty congratulations to the 2014 Centenary Bowl champions: Wimbledon Park Golf Club.
Despite some tight matches and tough competition against the Leatherhead ladies, our girls in green waltzed in with a storming 5 – 0 victory to take home the silverware.
Dubbed the Blitz of Biarritz, it quickly plummeted into Blitzed in Biarritz, as two competing societies The Press Golfing Society (PGS) and the Association de la Presse et du Golf (APG) thrashed it out for the 24th Wryter Cup in France.
Hosted by Golf de Chantaco in the charming coastal town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, a dozen miles south of Biarritz and close to the Spanish border, it is one of the most famous courses in the Basque country with exceptional views of the Pyrenees. Read More
Europe and the US are ready for battle in golf’s Ryder Cup. Oh, and Ukip leader Nigel Farage has popped up in a pretty cool Paddy Power ad for the contest too.
The world is a precarious place. Britain may be at war by the weekend. Scotland is more divided than ever before. The Queen is not amused with our prime minister. The leader of the opposition forgot the deficit. And now, Ukip’s Eurosceptic chief Nigel Farage has come out swinging in support of Europe (see video). Read More
In my experience heterosexual males are lousy at remembering birthdays. Facebook and Twitter has helped occasionally attract their attention to your really big day and nothing can beat persistent vocal reminders along the lines of, ‘I really can’t believe that next month I shall actually be 40.’
The combination of these three prompted one of my male colleagues to come up with a surprisingly bright idea, although I strongly suspect that he was really angling to celebrate his birthday which also ended in a nought, only in his case the big six-oh. Read More
Fourteen ladies flew to the west coast of Ireland to play golf.
This is what happened: Read More
When the phone-hacking allegations piled up and eventually took down the News of the World, I was there to witness it all.
Here is my story, from diary extracts during the last week of the newspaper, as published on Channel 4 News this week: Read More
“Your mother has cancer” … Ironically four little words that almost killed me. It was the deluge of tears that made for poor visibility as I sprinted out of the newsroom and across Gray’s Inn Road while furiously Googling: ‘Mum has breast cancer what do I do?’ which resulted in a face-first near miss with the 341 bus. Read More
It all started off so promisingly as the young man in a bow tie rushed up to me in the car park. “Miss Barlow” he shrieked, arms outstretched in my direction. “Welcome to Mid Ocean Golf Club, the jewel in Bermuda’s golf crown.”
Wow! What a welcome I thought, looking startled and vaguely bemused. I tried to deduce if this was the typically friendly Bermuda way, an over excitable PR executive or someone I had met at The Swizzle Inn after one too many Dark and Stormy cocktails. Read More
England is under water. My golf course resembles a swamp and it’s been over three months since I’ve swung something called a golf club. Until that moment returns when I have worked out which end of the stick to hold again, my blog is venturing into new areas. For now I’ve abandoned the sodden shores of the UK for sun kissed Isle Maurice. Mauritius to you and I. Read More
They say all good things must come to an end. And what an end it was too. The annual dinner at the Frontline Club to round off an incredible year being captain of the wonderful Press Golfing Society society.
SKIPPER’S SPEECH – BY HAYLEY BARLOW
Something happened on the way to dinner tonight. Jon Snow phoned me from Sri Lanka. It’s too late Jon, I told him, you had your chance to perform in front of my guests … and you blew it. Royally. Listen to me, he says, this is a really bad line and I can’t speak for long but I wanted to tell you something really important …
It’s not often you receive an email with the words: “I work with Ian Poulter and his golf clothing line IJP Design … and we would love to invite you to join our exclusive testing panel for his new women’s golf range ahead of the full launch in spring summer 2014.”
Well, that’s exactly what I did receive. Read More
It was dubbed the Maul in Porthcawl, but after a fierce first day battle, Whitewash in Wales had a certain ring to it too.
It took five long and painful years of defeats to the French, but the Wryter Cup is finally back on British soil and firmly in the arms of the Press Golfing Society.
Franco-British entente cordiale is once again set to go head to head for the XXIII Wryter Cup at Royal Porthcawl in Wales on 6 & 7 October 2013.
Qualification is a gruelling do-or-die selection process resulting in this year’s golfing crème de la crème of the UK media industry.
The record books currently stand at an level pegging 11-11 between the Press Golfing Society and Association de la Presse et du Golf.
Watch this space as the PGS attempt to wrestle the silverware back from our determined French rivals.
Follow @PressGolfSoc on Twitter for live #WryterCup action updates.