Thursday, October 11, 2007

You might remember that a while ago I told you I was going to Scotland and Ireland for a few days to play golf. I also said I'd keep a diary for you. Well, I lied. I didn't go to Scotland, I didn't play golf and I didn't keep a diary. I did, however, go to Ireland, but the closest I got to playing golf was watching the World Match Play Championship on television.

We -- my wife, baby girl and I -- flew from Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to Manchester, England last Tuesday and then on to sunny (not) Belfast, where I spent the entire week paddling furiously upstream against a steady torrent of Guinness. Frankly, I'm glad I only get to go back there once a year.

I have to say though, there is something magical about watching golf on TV in a proper Irish Pub. It's exactly like being on the golf course, except you have a bar to lean against. I was in a lovely old Belfast bar called the Garrick, watching the Woosnam-Woods match last Friday and was suddenly struck by the unusual attention span of the assembled crowd of good-natured ganches. A "ganch" is a term used to describe an extremely vocal Ulster person who mistakenly considers himself to be, "An expert on most things." For instance, in Texas, Ross Perot would be a ganch, and I for one would pay a lot of money to listen to him after he'd had a skinful Guinness. But I digress.

The ganching in the Garrick was going at a steady hum while the players were between shots, then died to almost nothing when they addressed the ball, and rose again after the shot when the ball came to rest. It was pretty weird to be honest, and made even weirder by the fact that the volume on the TV was turned all the way down. There must have been a hundred different conversations that kept coming to an abrupt halt every couple of minutes and then starting up again a few seconds later. Like I said, it was just like being on the golf course, except for all the smoke and the full bar service. Having said that, even the bartenders were afflicted. You could have danced naked on the bar during the playing of a shot, and you couldn't have gotten their attention either.

On Sunday, I watched the final from my parents house, this time with the volume turned up. There was virtually no ganching. Well, except for my father of course, and maybe me. OK, definitely me, but my point is this. A bit of ganching, whether you agree with the gancher or not, makes golf watching more enjoyable, a phenomenon that the powers that be at CBS obviously noticed some time ago.

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