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I’ve been coming to the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup for most of its 26 years and it’s fair to say that I haven’t made much an impact on the leaderboard over that time. In fact if you took my gross stableford score over the 20-plus tournaments I’ve played in, I probably still wouldn’t match the winning score of any single year.
Such is life. Just as my mother used to tell me, “Son, with a face like yours, it has to be radio for you,” so I accept I am never going to be among the golfing gods. All the golfing talent at The Moodie Davitt Report resides with the Irish part of the Kiwi-Irish combo that owns the company, a previous winner here, Dermot ‘Divot’.
Readers of this Blog last year will recall my references to my golf coach, Giulio (click here for my Me and Guilio down by the scrapyard Blog), a patient, long-suffering man (well, he’s been a patient and suffering badly ever since he began coaching me). I hadn’t been to see Giulio for a few months (he was probably relieved, my swing must be very bad for business) but in the run-up to this fantastic tournament I thought I should pay him a visit. To fine-tune my golfing equivalent of a virtuoso Stradivarius performance.
It doesn’t do wonders for your golfing confidence when you see your coach hurriedly put up a ‘Closed’ sign on the door and hide behind a golf bag when you pull up into the car park outside. But given that teaching me caused Giulio to develop the same persistent eye-twitch that Chief Inspector Dreyfus suffered in the Pink Panther movies after being driven mad by Inspector Clouseau, I suppose I can’t blame him. But he’s ever so ungrateful. When I first met Giulio he told me he had all the shots. But he hadn’t. Since he’s been teaching me, he’s also learned the shank.
“Come out Giulio,” I said, “I know you’re in there. I’ve come for a lesson!”
Giulio is Italian. The reason I know this is that he started to speak in Italian. “Oh no, non ancora questo idiota!” he said, I think an invitation to come on in and have a double espresso. Giulio is generous like that.
“I’m playing in the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup next week,” I told him. “Can you sort out my game?”
Giulio gave me the kind of look a psychologist reserves for dealing with a seriously delusional patient. “By next century will be difficult, by next week, è impossibile,” he appeared to be thinking.
But here’s the thing. It isn’t. Three lessons with Giulio and I’m feeling more confident of victory than ever before. I’ve promised him that I won’t chip with my driver (my cure for the chipping yips) and I’ve adopted his advice to swing into the ball like Dan Carter kicking a penalty with the same body turn and follow-through. What my fellow players will make of me using my feet, I have no idea, but Giulio is a single-figure handicapper so must know what he’s talking about.
Combine that advice with intensive putting practice on the rug in my hotel room at the Dubai Duty Free-run Jumeirah Creekside Hotel (Colm McLoughlin warned me last night not to use my wedge) and you can see why the bookmakers have slashed my odds to 14 million to one. There, you read it here first. I’m in with a chance. Forget the man called Divot. The Irish have had their joy for this week. The signs all point to a Kiwi victory.