Checks & Becks

By: Aidan Bradley


Editor's Note: While our resident pundit-golf photographer was waiting for the sun to come out in Ireland in mid-July, he passed some time penning the following musings. He's waiting for the clouds to clear so he can shoot his Irish assignment, and then take a flight to Portugal where, he says, "I hope there will be sun."

So here, in his own words, is Aidan's "glamorous life of a golf course photographer." Let's hope he can stop, as he says, "cursing the Irish weather depriving me of the ability to make a living. Do you know that photography is the hardest way to make an easy living?"

Part 1. Check Please

After a long day of working on the computer, at 8.30 p.m. I decided it was time to venture out of my steamy hotel room and head downstairs to the bar, have a beer and order a little nosh (grub). As I sat down I was approached by a slightly, if not pleasantly plump blonde waitress. The blonde description is merely added to inject a little color to the tale, so please don't get PC with me.

"I would like a bottled beer please," (all the draft beers here taste like they have too much chemicals in them). But before I could tell her what kind I wanted, she strolled off muttering "bottle beer."

"Excuse me," I said. "I haven't told you what kind of beer I would like." She returned and looked at me with a puzzled stare, and said "bottle beer," to which I responded "Yes, but I . . . " and she left again.

"Hello" I uttered with a slightly elevated tone. She returned once again with that now familiar dumb look. "I just want to know what kind of choices I have." "Vee dunt half CHOICES," she responded.

"No you don't understand, what kind of selection do you have?" "Vee dunt half SELECTION."

Right about now I am ready to pull my hair out and leave the place. But I took a deep breath and was determined to try one more time (wife, you would have been proud of me). "You have draft?" I gave her the universal sign for draft. "You have bottles?" and gave her my best description of a bottle and then said, "I don't want a draft." At this stage the poor wee lass had the "deer in the headlights look," but before she could leak out a word, I said once again in a slightly elevated but controlled voice, "I would really like a bottle of HEINEKIN, BUDWEISER (did I really say that?), BECKS."

Well that did it. When I said the word "Becks" her eyes lit up like her doctor had just given her a digi. "Ahh, BECKS," and off she went with a sense of accomplishment. I slumped back in my seat, totally drained from this ordeal but happy knowing that . . . "Houston, we have established communication." To think I could have gone to the grocery store across the street, bought a beer and prevented my blood pressure from jumping about 20 points.

I ordered a chicken curry to accompany my well-deserved Becks. Half-way through the meal another "more than pleasantly" plump waitress, this time with blonde, green and purple hair, started to wash glasses in front of me. Curiosity got the better of me and I asked her if she knew the nationality of the young lady who finally discovered that Becks was a bottled beer.

"I think she's Polish but I don't know," was the response. They must be really close friends! About five minutes later she returned with a huge smile on her face and remarked, "She's from the Check." I said, "You must mean she is from the Czeck Republic, formerly known as Czeckoslovakia?" "No, she is from the Check."

Well that really did it. Forget a relaxing Bailey's to finish the night, there was only one thing left to say . . . "CHECK PLEASE!"

The above is really true. I just had to rewind it in slow-motion to make sure it really happened. I think this Irish weather is really getting to me. To protect the innocent I have not included the names Natwitta and Lumka so these lovely ladies can go through their lives totally oblivious of what transpired this evening, although I fear that is going to happen anyway.

God Bless, Good Night . . .

Part 2. Friday the 13th - A Different Kind of Becks

There are two hot topics around the old soup trough today, No. 1: Will David Beckham save the MLS? and 2, Will we ever see sunshine again in Ireland.

Just in case you've been living under a rock for the past 15 years or you live outside Europe, David Beckham and his Spice Girl wife Posh just arrived in Los Angeles amidst a flurry of hoopla and paparazzi. Did you know that she has her initials on the hubcap of her Bentley convertible which, by the way, was just delivered to their newly purchased $15 million home. I was thinking of scraping my initials on my 1986 Jeep, Ehh not!!

Sorry, I digress. "Becks," football's (soccer's) most high-profile and grossly overpaid athlete has arrived in America at great expense in an attempt to raise the awareness of the game of soccer. I wish you the best David and hope you can "bend" their opinion.

The only reason I mention Beck's is that he represents a little ray of "sunshine" to the much-beleaguered American Soccer Association. And sunshine is something that is in short supply in Ireland these days, in fact there has not been a sighting in the past 45 days. All of which segues nicely into topic 2.

Having spent the first 21 years of my life in Ireland and two months each of the last five summers, it blows my mind that the average Irish person talks about the weather on a daily basis about as much as a healthy male thinks about sex. So it makes sense that I feel screwed when I come here to work and can't perform due to the inadequacies and shortcomings of the meteorological services to provide an adequate long-range forecast. Well enough of my sex life, let's move on.

It just dawned on me that living in California is very boring. You get up in the morning and what are your choices? Well, I have my beige sandals, blue shorts, and gaudy Hawaiian shirt - which visor am I going to select? How about the clean one! Now, where was the fun in that? Whereas if you live in Ireland it's just like taking the DMV test . . . multiple choices dude! Galoshes, Wellies or rubber boots? Trench coat, Anorak, or freshly waterproofed leather jacket for the cool people? Sweater, two sweaters, or hug a sheep? Now, that seems like a lot more fun. Everyone needs a little challenge in their lives.

It's 90 degrees in Portugal and Spain. What do you think their choices are? One-piece or two (bathing suits, for those of you in Hicksville)? Or, if you are the typical British tourist, do I wear my black socks or my Man United ones to the beach? Hello, fashion police! They are enjoying refreshing, sparkling drinks with their shrimp salads while I have to suffer through over-salted potato soup and Guinness just to maintain body temperature. Life, like golf, is not a game of fair.

This is all very depressing. It's time to head down to the bar and look for my friend from "the Check." Maybe her repertoire has increased to four beers. Nahh, too much to hope for. Oh well, maybe some new material for tomorrow night's ramblings, observations, comments.

God Bless, Good Night . . .

Part 3. Meanwhile, Back at the Bar

Forgive me, no one to talk to . . .

Well, sad to say, that my "Check Chick" was not working tonight. Maybe they fired her because she told a patron that they didn't have Guinness. With the Irish government's immigration policy of allowing one foreigner to enter the country for every citizen so the Irish don't have to work anymore because they are all so wealthy, Natwitta will always have a job. And I used to say "I love America." Ireland is fast becoming my newest favorite country. Ole, ole, ole . . . Oh, sorry, it was the Becks.

As I sat in the bar tonight, I noticed that everyone was drinking, some more than others. I started to think about the drinking culture in this country and was reminded of a newspaper article I read on the way to midnight mass the other night . . . I took a cab, honest. There is a big push to lower the legal limit to some ungodly age such that if you as much look at a diet Guinness you are going straight to jail because your body has ingested the evil liquor by osmosis.

While I believe that we must all bear responsibilities for our weaknesses, I really think this one is going to be hard to swallow. Zero tolerance. No more bars, pubs, etc. I got an idea. Let's all trade in our cars for a yellow cab. We could drive home in disguise. Can you see the freeways at 1.30 at night? It would look like giant caterpillars had invaded the world.

I don't think it would be healthy if we stopped going to the pub for a couple of de-stresser's at the end of the day before we go home to face reality. I tried it once and, after the third day, my wife said, "For God's sake, go to the pub and relax." Just then I thought, "I must be the luckiest man alive, what an understanding woman." However, about an hour after my third Becks it all became very clear to me. When you come home from the pub and are pleasantly merry, you don't want stir things up. You're a lover not a fighter, and if you're not, you are a blightering idiot. Shut up, sit down, eat your dinner and say "thank you"

Now if you arrive home without softening your disposition, all of a sudden you notice things. My steak is a little tough. There's not enough butter on my spuds. Why are the kids still up? What's that pile of laundry doing on the kitchen floor? What do you mean I can't have sex - it's been four months since I last groveled? And before you know it, you are having a fight, you slam the door and head for the pub. See, if you had done that three hours ago you could have avoided all this.

I don't think this zero tolerance would be good for the longevity of marriage. The only people who would benefit from all this would be the lawyers, and we know how we feel about them. Well, someone suggested you could drink at home. I don't think this is a good example for your kids. They will start to think you don't have any friends and they will blame themselves. Not healthy. And what if you start saying, "Can we get another one over here please." Pretty soon your wife is going to say, "Get you own f.....g cocktail!" and that's not healthy either. Do you see where I'm going? Not good.

Now, let's examine the bigger picture. Zero tolerance gone wild. The naked truth on spring break. I mean, can you honestly see the Super Bowl being sponsored by Liptons Tea, Snapple, or Fanta? I'm not going to wash down my Doritos and hot dog with one of those. Gag me with a spoon Dude. Everyone has heard the phrase, "The Good Lord invented whiskey to prevent the Irish from ruling the world." If they cut us off we would make Al Qaeda look like Bambi. Can you see Mr. Bush sending the marines to Ireland? All he will find over here is a bunch of Polish and Eastern Europeans learning how to drink Guinness and say, "Becks." Heck, we've had terrorist cells over here for years. And we know how to turn this country into turmoil. Make them watch Katie Couric 24 hours a day, deprive you guys of Paris Hilton sightings, and worst of all, force-feed you porridge. This nation would crumble before you could say, "Another Bushmills please."

So, for the good of national security, longevity of marriage, and the general well-being of Katie Couric, let's not get our knickers in a twist. Let us not rush to judgment. A little pop every once in a while is good for you. Support you neighborhood alehouse, but be careful.

Moderation in all things. If you find that's not working for you, I suggest you cut your drinking in half. Save up that unused money and, before you know it, you'll have enough for a fake beard, foreign language lessons, and a yellow cab.

Bingo, problem solved.

God Bless, Good Night . . .



Aidan Bradley is regarded as among the best at his trade and is widely recognized for his ability to capture the excitement and mood of a golf course.

Over the years, Aidan's images have graced the pages of all the national golf publications and he is a regular contributor to golf coffeetable books such as "Nicklaus by Design," Golf Digest's "Top 100 Courses You Can Play," "Golf, The Women's Game," and many others. Titleist, Spalding Worldwide, Taylor Made, and Top Flight are but a few of the clients who have used Aidan's images in their ad campaigns.

Aidan was born in Cork, Ireland, where he lived for 21 years. He now resides in Santa Barbara, Calif., from where his work takes him to places that the most passionate golfer dreams of: St. Andrews in Scotland, Augusta National in Georgia, Ballybunion in Ireland, and The Challenge on the island of Lanai in Hawaii. Whatever the assignment, Aidan's focus on light and the surrounding natural environment consistently produces images that evoke a mood that even non-golfers find attractive and compelling.

For samples of Aidan Bradley's work, and more about this outstanding golf photographer, visit http://golfcoursephotography.com/home.asp.

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