‘Did not Miss Masterton give you my message?’
‘No. What was it?’
‘I said I would be over here and that I would like a game of golf with you.’
‘Oh, well,’ Bond’s voice was coldly polite, ‘we must do that some day.’
‘I was playing with the professional. I will play with you instead.’ Goldfinger was stating a fact.
There was no doubt that Goldfinger was hooked. Now Bond must play hard to get.
‘Why not some other time? I’ve come to order a club. Anyway I’m not in practice. There probably isn’t a caddie.’ Bond was being as rude as he could. Obviously the last thing he wanted to do was play with Goldfinger.
‘I also haven’t played for some time.’ (Bloody liar, thought Bond.) ‘Ordering a club will not take a moment.’ Goldfinger turned back into the shop. ‘Blacking, have you got a caddie for Mr Bond?’
‘Then that is arranged.’
Bond wearily thrust his driver back into his bag. ‘Well, all right then.’ He thought of a final way of putting Goldfinger off. He said roughly, ‘But I warn you I like playing for money. I can’t be bothered to knock a ball round just for the fun of it.’ Bond felt pleased with the character he was building up for himself.
Was there a glint of triumph, quickly concealed, in Gold-finger’s pale eyes? He said indifferently, ‘That suits me. Anything you like. Off handicap, of course. I think you said you’re nine.’
Goldfinger said carefully, ‘Where, may I ask?5
‘Huntercombe.’ Bond was also nine 杭州生活网 at Sunningdale. Huntercombe was an easier course. Nine at Huntercombe wouldn’t frighten Goldfinger.
‘And I also am nine. Here. Up on the board. So it’s a level game. Right?’
Bond shrugged. ‘You’ll be too good for me.’
‘I doubt it. However,’ Goldfinger was offhand,’tell you what I’ll do. That bit of money you removed from me in Miami. Remember? The big figure was ten. I like a gamble. It will be good for me to have to try. I will play you double or quits for that.’
Bond said indifferently, ‘That’s too much.’ Then, as if he thought better of it, thought he might win, he said – with just the right amount of craft mixed with reluctance – ‘Of course you can say that was “found money”. I won’t miss it if it goes again. Oh, well, all right. Easy come easy go. Level match. Ten thousand dollars it is.’
Goldfinger turned away. He said, and 杭州九堡这边按摩有什么服务 there was a sudden sweetness in the flat voice, ‘That’s all arranged then, Mr Blacking. Many thanks. Put your fee down on my account. Very sorry we shall be missing our game. Now, let me pay the caddie fees.’
Alfred Blacking came into the workroom and picked up Bond’s clubs. He looked very directly at Bond. He said, ‘Remember what I told you, sir.’ One eye closed and opened again. ‘I mean about that flat swing of yours. It needs watching – all the time.’
Bond smiled at him. Alfred had long ears. He might not have caught the figure, but he knew that somehow this was to be a key game. ‘Thanks, Alfred. I won’t forget. Four Pen-folds – with hearts on them. And a dozen tees. I won’t be a minute.’
Bond walked through the shop and out to his car. The bowler-hatted man was polishing the metal work of the Rolls with a cloth. Bond felt 杭州品茶群老司机 rather than saw him stop and watch Bond take out his zip bag and go into the club house. The man had a square flat yellow face. One of the Koreans?
Bond paid his green-fee to Hampton, the steward, and went into the changing-room. It was just the same – the same tacky smell of old shoes and socks and last summer’s sweat. Why was it a tradition of the most famous golf clubs that their standard of hygiene should be that of a Victorian private school? Bond changed his socks and put on the battered old pair of nailed Saxones. He took off the coat of his yellowing black and white hound’s tooth suit and pulled on a faded black wind-cheater. Cigarettes? Lighter?
He was ready to go
Bond walked slowly out, preparing his mind for the game. On purpose he had needled this man into a high, tough match so that Goldfinger’s respect for him 杭州水磨会所 should be increased and Goldfinger’s view of Bond – that he was the type of ruthless, hard .adventurer who might be very useful to Goldfinger – would be confirmed. Bond had thought that perhaps a hundred-pound Nassau would be the form. But ten thousand dollars! There had probably never been such a high singles game in history-except in the finals of American Championships or in the big amateur Calcutta Sweeps where it was the backers rather than the players who had the money on. Goldfinger’s private accounting must have taken a nasty dent. He wouldn’t have liked that. He would be aching to get some of his money back. When Bond had talked about playing high, Goldfinger had seen his chance. So be it. But one thing was certain, for a hundred reasons Bond could not afford to lose.
He turned into the shop and picked up the balls and 杭州丝袜服务 tees from Alfred Blacking.
‘Hawker’s got the clubs, sir.’
Bond strolled out across the five hundred yards of shaven seaside turf that led to the first tee. Goldfinger was practising on the putting green. His caddie stood near by, rolling balk to him. Goldfinger putted in the new fashion – between his legs with a mallet putter. Bond felt encouraged. He didn’t believe in the system. He knew it was no good practising himself. His old hickory Calamity Jane had its good days and its bad. There was nothing to do about it. He knew also that the St Marks practice green bore no resemblance, in speed or texture, to the greens on the course.
Bond caught up with the limping, insouciant figure of his caddie who was sauntering along chipping at an imaginary ball with Bond’s blaster. ‘Afternoon, Hawker.’
‘Afternoon, sir.’ Hawker handed Bond the blaster and threw down three used balls. His keen sardonic poacher’s face split in a wry grin of welcome. ‘HowVe you been keep in’, sir? Played any golf in the last twenty years? Can you still put them on the roof of the starter’s hut?’ This referred to the day when Bond, trying to do just that before a match, had put two balls through the starter’s window.
‘Let’s see.’ Bond took the blaster and hefted it in his hand, gauging the distance. The tap of the balls on the practice green had ceased. Bond addressed the ball, swung quickly, lifted his head and shanked the ball almost at right angles. He tried again. This time it was a dunch. A foot of turf flew up. The ball went ten yards. Bond turned to Hawker, who was looking his most sardonic. ‘It’s all right, Hawker. Those were for show. Now then, one for you.’ He stepped up to the third ball, took his club back slowly and whipped the club head through. The ball soared a hundred feet, paused elegantly, dropped eighty feet on to the thatched roof of the starter’s hut and bounced down.
Bond handed back the club. Hawker’s eyes were thoughtful, amused. He said nothing. He pulled out the driver and handed it to Bond. They walked together to the first tee, talking about Hawker’s family.
Goldfinger joined them, relaxed, impassive. Bond greeted Goldfinger’s caddie, an obsequious, talkative man called Foulks whom Bond had never liked. Bond glanced at Gold-finger’s clubs. They were a brand new set of American Ben Hogans with smart St Marks leather covers for the woods. The bag was one of the stitched black leather holdalls favoured by American pros. The clubs were in individual cardboard tubes for easy extraction. It was a pretentious outfit, but the best.
‘Toss for honour?’ Goldfinger flicked a coin.
It was heads. Goldfinger took out his driver and unpeeled a new ball. He said, ‘Dunlop 65. Number One. Always use the same ball. What’s yours?’
Goldfinger looked keenly at Bond. ‘Strict Rules of Golf?’
‘Right.’ Goldfinger walked on to the tee and teed up. He took one or two careful, concentrated practice swings. It was a type of swing Bond knew well – the grooved, mechanical, repeating swing of someone who’had studied the game with great care, read all the books and spent five thousand pounds on the finest pro teachers. It would be a good, scoring swing which might not collapse under pressure. Bond envied it.
Goldfinger took up his stance, wagged gracefully, took his club head back in a wide slow arc and, with his eyes glued to the ball, broke his wrists correctly. He brought the club head mechanically, effortlessly, down and through the ball and into a rather artificial, copybook finish. The ball went straight and true about two hundred yards down the fairway.
It was an excellent, uninspiring shot. Bond knew that Goldfinger would be capable of repeating the same swing with different clubs again and again round the eighteen holes.
Bond took his place, gave himself a lowish tee, addressed the ball with careful enmity and, with a flat, racket-player’s swing in which there was just too much wrist for safety, lashed the ball away. It was a fine, attacking drive that landed past Goldfinger’s ball and rolled on fifty yards. But it had had a shade of draw and ended on the edge of the left-hand rough.
They were two good drives. As Bond handed his club to Hawker and strolled off in the wake of the more impatient Goldfinger, he smelled the sweet smell of the beginning of a knock-down-and-drag-out game of golf on a beautiful day in May with the larks singing-over the greatest seaside course in the world.
The first hole of the Royal St Marks is four hundred and fifty yards long – four hundred and fifty yards of undulating fairway with one central bunker to trap a mis-hit second shot and a chain of bunkers guarding three-quarters of the green to trap a well-hit one. You can slip through the unguarded quarter, but the fairway slopes to the right there and you are more likely to end up with a nasty first-chip-of-the-day out of the rough. Goldfinger was well placed to try for this opening. Bond watched him take what was probably a spoon, make his two practice swings and address the ball.
Many unlikely people play golf, including people who are blind, who have only one arm, or even no legs, and people often wear bizarre clothes to the game. Other golfers don’t think them odd, for there are no rules of appearance or dress at golf. That is one of its minor pleasures. But Goldfinger had made an attempt to look smart at golf and that is the only way of dressing that is incongruous on a links. Everything matched in a blaze of rust-coloured tweed from the buttoned ‘golfer’s cap’ centred on the huge, flaming red hair, to the brilliantly polished, almost orange shoes. The plus-four suit was too well cut and the plus-fours themselves had been pressed down the sides. The stockings were of a matching heather mixture and had green garter tabs. It was as if Goldfinger had gone to his tailor and said, ‘Dress me for golf – you know, like they wear in Scotland.’ Social errors made no impression on Bond, and for the matter of that he rarely noticed them. With Goldfinger it was different. Everything about the man had grated on Bond’s teeth from the first moment he had seen him. The assertive blatancy of his clothes was just part of the malevolent animal magnetism that had affected Bond from the beginning.
Goldfinger executed his mechanical, faultless swing. The ball flew true but just failed to make the slope and curled off to the right to finish pinhigh off the green in the short rough. Easy five. A good chip could turn it into a four, but it would have to be a good one.