First Brit in Years to Win the Amateur, Joe Long Expands the Vocabulary
I admit that I should have known better. Half of my family tree is British in origin from my grandparents generation and back. I was one of those kids speaking Eton English in an American elementary school, with all the quizzical looks that elicited. All sorts of leftover British colloquialisms were heard around the house, and my father was merciless with his plays on words, usually involving at least one British phrase. However, British golfer Joe Long threw a curve ball at me, and I realized that my education in the island’s adroit use of slang has faded through the years. It is the land of Shakespeare, after all. I guess I’ve just been away too long.
Long made the finals of the British Amateur at Royal Birkdale, of all places. In his final match, he took on good friend Joe Harvey in 36 holes. Unfortunately, there were few people around to observe Long’s victory, but that’s all right. The list of goodies that ensued from his victory are the real prizes from winning such a tournament. The young Englishman will appear in the British Open, and at the Masters, not to mention a few others.
Long and Harvey stayed close together through the first few holes, until Long got his first birdie of the day. Entering the second 18 with a two-stroke advantage, he had his man down four by the 29th hole, and held on for the win. The young Mr. Long was quite pleased with his play in general, although the word he used was, I believe, “chuffed.” That is, “I was chuffed at the way I was playing.” He did admit, however, to hitting a few rather “ropey” shots earlier in the round. After “chuffed” and “ropey,” I had to do some research.
I thought back to a stint I did in Ukraine, where a young scholar boasted to me of the Russian and Ukrainian dictionary’s superior efficiency of vocabulary to the British. “See?” he said, “a third smaller than the English dictionary.” I responded, “And that is its problem.” The British can think of ten magical ways of saying anything.
To my surprise, I had come across most of the other golf terms, except for the use of “buggy” as golf cart, and the term “burn.” That signifies the little streams that occasionally cross the fairway, and can throw a whole day’s game into chaos. The famous “burn” at Carnoustie, for example, was the unhappy resting spot for Jean Van Der Welde of British Open infamy.
After a few minutes, I decided that “chuffy” was indeed a fine word, and had been used perfectly by the new British Amateur Champion. In fact, he now has a new American fan who is going to follow not only his game, but his every word when he comes to visit Green Jacket country. Yes, the British Amateur is like few other national amateur golf championships. From the inception of the modern game in the west, an awful lot of fine golfers have been crowded into the available space of that island.
In fact, out of tribute to Joe Long’s victory at Royal Birksdale, I’ve decided to give the rhetorical flourish a try myself. How about this? “I was pleased when my driver crossed the burn, but was gutted at the sight of my iron heading west instead of east. The chip was good, but my putter turned crankhanded, and the double bogey left me all mardy through the next hole. Things improved after a chinwag with my caddie, who told me that my opponent was dodgy in his use of the foot wedge. Another double bogey at nine, and the whole round began to go pear-shaped. By the end, I’d lost all of next week’s wonga, and barely made it home. My wife said, “You lost all the wonga?” And I thought I was mardy.
Needs a little more practice? All right, I’ll work on it. In the meantime, congrats to Joe Long. Good luck, and I’ll see you in Georgia when the azaleas bloom.