My last two weekends have both been marked by enthralling events. Aside from two multi-exciting Formula One races (finally!), I have also thoroughly enjoyed the last two days of the Masters Golf and the most recent meeting of my local Weavers’ Guild.
I am not what you might call a golf fan exactly, but I always make time to watch the Masters. Ever since Bubba Watson’s first win in 2012. That was one of the most thrilling sporting events I’ve ever seen. With a play-off around midnight, I seem to recall, between Bubba and his opponent, both of whom managed to land their balls in the trees on the second hole they attempted, having scored equally up to that point after four days of playing.
They was no way Bubba could win from the position he landed in. He couldn’t even see the green. But somehow he did, with some spectacular hitting. One of the things I loved about Bubba was the way he upset the commentators with his ‘unconventional’ swing. He played the game with gusto and enthusiasm, along with a complete disregard for ‘the form-book’.
I’ve watched the Masters every year since – though it has never been quite as nail-biting – seeing him win again in 2014. Along with some very classy players whom I’ve enjoyed watching immensely, I was very taken with several of this year’s entrants, and thoroughly delighted by the ultimate winner – Patrick Reed – who was not someone I ever remembered seeing before.
There’s a good reason for that. Reed has never won anything of major significance before. He’s not even come close, though he was, I understand, a major contributor to the USA team win in the Ryder Cup. Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I love a story of someone coming through the ranks unexpectedly to take a great win – that sudden surge of discovery of who they really are!
So my eye was drawn, this morning, to an article on a website sport page about this new winner, stating – apparently in astonishment – that Reed chooses his own golf clubs. Excuse me?
In my naivety, I had assumed all golf players would have the sense to do this. To pick out the drivers, the putters and the wedges that suit them best. Surely, this would be essential to them playing their optimal game.
But no. It would seem that the majority of professional golfers choose to go with the clubs made by a sole company – in exchange for an awful lot of money. This is, of course, the essence of sponsorship these days and is the norm in the sporting world.
This is also, I learned, why golfers wear hats, and not just any old hat, but a hat built to conformity and donated by their sponsor. A hat that will display their logo, and leave a strange white upper half to the face of the wearer. How do you know if someone you meet in the street is a pro-golfer? Look above their eyebrows!
So for Reed to decide to ditch a lucrative deal and to fill a ‘mixed bag’ of clubs that each worked well for him – in fact, not simply ‘well’ but ones he considered the perfect choice for his style of play – was utterly unconventional. It was described by others as ‘a big risk’. And look what happened!
Then this weekend, I went to the monthly meeting of the Weavers’ Guild, where we were privileged by receive a talk from Professor Paul Rodgers, who is a professor of design at a university in Northern England. He came to tell us about a venture he undertook just under two years ago, working with Alzheimer Scotland on a weaving project.
Paul, you see, has a particular interest in ‘how disruptive design interventions can enact positive change in health’. He and his team took their idea to a collection of Dementia Centres around Scotland, and explored the structure and design of tartans with the people accessing their resources, all people living with dementia.
They encouraged the participants to design their own tartans with the aid of acetate strips – until someone sneezed! After that, they opted to use coloured ribbons instead. The designs were then entered on the computer where they could be tweaked to the original designer’s satisfaction. The final designs were judged by a panel of interested experts, and a short list was drawn up to be voted on all over Scotland. The winning tartan was then woven up, first by hand, then by a commercial concern.
The professor then shared some of the positive outcomes for the people taking part in the enterprise. Not surprisingly, many of them felt valued, excited, encouraged, happy, satisfied, surprised …
What a turn up for the books! Who would have thought that enabling people to discover and express their creativity would bring about a sense of well-being, and enable accomplishment?
I want to make it clear that my sarcasm is not directed towards the professor but towards those supposedly superior beings who insist on measuring everything in financial terms. One of the fortunate outcomes of this project was a chance meeting with a ‘health economist’ who will be able to translate the positivity of the enterprise into economic terms for those less able to comprehend the benefits. Because actually the project could lead to substantial financial savings if someone with the imagination to see it employs the strategies.
So what has all this to do with writing? For me, lots of ideas spring to mind. But as I’ve written much more than I intended already, perhaps I’ll elaborate next week. In the meantime, I invite you to contemplate the words of Iain Carter, a golf correspondent for the BBC when he warns against the world of ‘uniformity, anonymity and a two-tone head’.