Amy Winehouse Plays the Old Course

Dateline Thursday, May 8, 2008

Amy Winehouse was released from police custody in London after yet another drug arrest. It was the second time in a week she had been arrested on drug charges, and then, inexplicably to this observer, released again nearly immediately after being incarcerated. Upon her release, on the advice of her drug councilor, she headed north to Scotland, where she played a therapeutic round of golf at the Old Course in St Andrews.

On the tee of the first hole, after Winehouse and her caddie Pete Doherty learned that the hole’s name was the “Burn” hole, they sat down and proceeded to light up a pipe filled with hashish. This would hardly have raised an eyebrow in London, but as this was St Andrews it provoked a response similar to that of Henry Bateman’s painting, “The Man Who Missed the Ball on the First Tee at St Andrews”. (See my “page” on the right.) I mean, people were shocked. The Secretary of the R&A escorted the couple into the clubhouse, where they were detained for three minutes.

The Secretary apologized for the delay, awarded Winehouse a par for the first hole, and hastened her to begin her round on number two.

At number 2, the “Dyke” hole, Pete whipped out a needle and added an impromptu tattoo of two women kissing to Amy’s upper thigh. A marshal penalized her a stroke for delaying play, but then rescinded it.

Number 3, the “Cartgate” hole, features a dangerous bunker down the left side called the Principal‘s Nose. Winehouse, hearing this, dropped everything and ran for the bunker. She jumped in, and immediately began snorting cocaine from an ingenious dispenser that looked like a golf ball.

Number 4 is the “Ginger Beer” hole, named for the refreshments sold from a cart owned by “Auld Daw” (David) Anderson back in the 1890’s. (Anderson had been a greenskeeper, ball-maker and caddie at St Andrews.) Amy pulled out a cellphone, and moments later a helicopter landed. A burly attendant emerged, carrying two cases of beer, which were rapidly consumed by the dangerous duo. A marshal penalized them two strokes: one for delaying play and one for not sharing the beer with the marshal.

On number 5, the “Hole O’Cross”, she hooked her drive into the Elysian Fields along the left of the fairway, where she encountered a group of autograph-seekers walking along the beach that runs next to the course. She head-butted the first three, causing the rest to flee screaming. The marshal did not assess a penalty in this case, because head-butting is encouraged in Scotland, and to sign autographs would have slowed down play.

As you probably know, the 6th is called “Heathery”. There is a cluster of bunkers down the left named the Coffins. Winehouse and Doherty were greatly amused to lie down, after shooting up some heroin, and pretend they were dead and in pine boxes. Smart money suggests this will happen sooner rather than later.

When Winehouse and Doherty discovered that the 7th is called “High” hole, Doherty produced a Thai stick the size of a golf club, and soon thereafter the two golfers were puffing away on it.

Lost and disoriented, they skipped the 8th hole, “Short”, and stumbled on to number nine, “End”. Doherty saw the historical note on the golfer’s guide telling how the Kruger bunkers, far to the left, date from the Boer War. Winehouse, whose ears were ringing at this time, thought that Doherty called her a whore, and so slashed his head with her sand wedge. Pete, feeling no pain by this time, saw the trail of blood roll down and stain his shirt, which he admired for its realistically blood-red color. The marshal was going to penalize them further, but then considered what’s the point?

Number 10 is a good hole, named for Bobby Jones by St Andrews admirers after he passed away in 1971. Winehouse noted the quote from Jones printed on the scorecard, about competitive golf being played mainly on a 5 ½ inch course, which is the space between your ears. She found this to be so hilarious that she and Doherty each popped 5 ½ Ecstasy tablets, and rolled around in the gorse.

The 11th hole, “High” confused the pair, because they thought they had already played the High hole. (Here I should mention for Old Course neophytes that the Old Course is unusual in that there are seven “double” greens. These extra-large greens serve double duty in that one part of the green is used for an outward bound hole, and then another part of that green is used for an inward bound hole. For example, the outward 5th hole, “Hole O’Cross (out)” shares the same green with number 13 coming in, cleverly named “Hole O’Cross (in)”. Likewise with holes 6 and 12, and 7 and 11, sharing greens and to some degree names.)

Let’s get back to our detailed and dispassionate narrative. Winehouse and Doherty were confused by the arcane course layout and nomenclature, so on the “High (in)” hole, they noticed that they hadn’t smoked any crack cocaine yet, whereupon Pete produced the hardware and applied the pyrotechnics. The marshal was spotted later sobbing uncontrollably in a large thistle bush.

By the time they recovered their bearings they were on number 13, “Hole O’Cross” in that homecoming direction we talked about. Winehouse hit into a nasty little bunker down the left called the Cat’s Trap. Doherty pulled out a cat he had recently trapped, which had been tied up with duct tape. With dramatic flair he picked up Winehouse’s ball from the bunker, replaced it with the snarling cat, and exhorted her to hit the cat instead of the ball. Doherty is reported to have said, “They don’t go very far, but I love the sound they make when you hit them real good.”

A marshal swooped down before her back swing attained that full athletic coiling, and plucked the cat away in time, recognizing that the cat was indeed his own. He penalized Winehouse nine strokes, the same number of lives that cats purportedly have.

The 14th hole is called “Long”. Menacing the left side of the fairway are four bunkers known as the Beardies. Winehouse took the opportunity to impugn Doherty’s pathetic excuse for a beard, directing much scorn on the few scraggly hairs that are seen more often on old ladies whose eyesight has failed. This caused a bit of an imbroglio, made worse by the fact that Doherty had just created and consumed a new cocktail made from two cups each of vodka and Scotch whisky, and was feeling maudlin.

Number 15 is a beautiful hole, the “Cartgate (in)”. Learning that the pair of mounds in the fairway used as an aiming point were called Miss Grainger’s Bosoms – I’m not making this up – Winehouse again whipped out her cellphone, and soon a huge black SUV appeared. Out popped an artsy-looking, androgynous specimen, who on the barked orders of Winehouse, began to apply green body paint to Amy’s now-bared breasts. When finished, and when Winehouse lay down on the ground, the resemblance between the actual golf course and Winehouse’s upper torso was astounding. When notified by radio, the Secretary called the R&A lawyers to see if this was some sort of copyright infraction, but was instead told it was merely bad taste.

On the 16th, the “Corner of the Dyke” hole, another bit of theatre unfolded. Guarding the green directly in front is the Wig bunker. Coincidentally, Amy had hit her ball in there, and by this point she was so frazzled due to the lack of intoxicating stimulants, that her own wig began to shift and droop most distressingly. The black bouffant monstrosity atop her head took on a life of its own, one perhaps more meaningful than its former owner. Strange that with the wig down completely covering her eyes, Winehouse hit the best shot of the day, a phenomenal sand wedge that flew towards the flag, landed gently, and then rolled into the cup. She didn’t see it however, because she and Doherty were still in the bunker, drinking from a large box of wine.

The 17th hole, the infamous “Road Hole” runs along a low stone wall fronting the Old Course Hotel. There were so many fans wanting an autograph, or to hear a few words of enlightenment or a song from Amy, that the Black Watch was called in to restore order. To assist with morale Winehouse threw empty beer bottles at the crowd, which quieted them down quickly.

The last hole, named for Old Tom Morris, is where the famous, ancient bridge over the Swilcan Burn is located. (I have a photo of my dad standing on that bridge, and I treasure it.) Winehouse and Doherty, having downed a half bottle of Valium, decided it would be easier to crawl under the bridge than walk over it, and emerged dripping wet if none the worse for wear. Winehouse’s considerable eye make-up was at this point running down and covering both sides of her face in black, the whole impression that of three piano keys. There’s a deep swale in front of the green, the much dreaded “Valley of Sin”, and here this reporter will refrain from detailing what took place between these shining examples of celebrity.

I will tell you that the next morning, Amy Winehouse’s unconscious body was found hanging from the obelisk that stands very near to the 18th green, the Martyr’s Monument. If that particular juxtaposition has any meaning for you, please let me know.

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