Two Ruddy Ducks And A Partridge On A Par Three: Book Review

A rather alternative but highly amusing series of views on all things golf from golfing “expert” Mortimer Merriweather

Clive Agran
(Image credit: Merlin Unwin Books)

To give this book its full title: “Two Ruddy Ducks and a Partridge on a Par Three – The Unexpurgated Golf Letters of Mortimer Merriweather” gives more of a clue about what to expect when opening this all hugely entertaining book which has been published by Merlin Unwin Books. It’s a series of rather hilarious missives penned by the fictional character Mortimer Merriweather to an extraordinarily diverse selection of recipients.  

Meriweather is the playing partner (but I think it’s not too much of a spoiler to say creation) of golf writer Clive Agran. A previous recipient of the ‘St Andrews Festival Golf Humour Award’ Clive has been scribing on our glorious sport for an undisclosed number of years – safe to say – more than me.

Mortimer also has a long association with the grand old game having played for some 60 years (to an exceedingly poor standard). But during that time, he has forged some strong opinions and ideas on the sport, and he enjoys nothing more than expressing those in predictably old-fashioned style – by good old snail mail.

Two Ruddy Ducks and a Partridge on a Par Three delivers the full (we assume full) collation of Mortimer’s letters, sent to everyone from The Pope to DJ Spoony. We start with a letter, that gives the book it’s title, addressed to the British Trust for Ornithology. It suggests some more interesting (bird-related) nomenclature for golf scoring. Mortimer believes that bogey isn’t a very nice term and offers “partridge” as an alternative… Not only because “tridge” is a “little more than par” but also because if making a four on a par-three, players can say they’ve had: “a partridge on a par three.”

Prince Harry is then "tapped up" for a collaboration - Mortimer suggesting that the two have a great deal in common. An enquiry to the Scottish Tourist board asks if “there are any decent courses up there?” The Supreme Leader of North Korea is asked if he would consider hosting a Stableford competition featuring 72 world leaders and Jimmy Tarbuck is asked if he would put his name to a new highly lofted club Mortimer has designed so he can call it the “Tarby Tosser.”

There's even a communique to Golf Monthly suggesting we consider a "Bottom 100" list of golf courses to complement our Top 100 Rankings.

There are some controversial letters including a note to one of England’s more established clubs asking if they’d consider being used as the set for an “adult” film. There's one to St Andrews suggesting some cosmetic changes to the finishing hole on the Old Course.

Clive Agran book review

The author, Clive Agran, reading Two Ruddy Ducks And A Partridge On A Par Three

(Image credit: Clive Agran)

The whole book is a hoot and it’s one you can either read from cover to cover or just dip into and read a couple… I won’t use the term “excellent toilet reading” because that’s a bit condescending… But it makes for excellent toilet reading.

Some of my favourites within the 100 letters include: a letter to the education board suggesting a golf theory GCSE exam; one to Augusta National suggesting a reciprocal deal with Mortimer’s club – Dale Hill Hotel and Golf Club in East Sussex; and another to the Nobel Prize Committee suggesting they include a Nobel prize for golf.

I can’t recommend Two Ruddy Ducks and a Partridge on a Par Three enough – It’s silly but it’s very well written (as you would expect from Agran - a stalwart of golf writing) and it’s just very, very funny. Tony Husband's excellent and amusing illustrations also deserve a mention. 

The book is available at all good book sellers now.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?