There is a challenging Donald Steel golf course that Darren Clarke can view from his house atop a hill at the stylish Abaco Club, but on the occasion of his 48th birthday last month, Europe’s Ryder Cup captain was more interested in bright blue waters than green paspalum fairways. Down below, glassy Winding Bay and the tranquil island life greet him each morning,and Clarke is prone to bypass the clubs to grab a rod, join a guide and fly-cast for hours chasing a highly elusive fish: the permit.
Clarke is obsessed with the fish. Early this year in the Bahamas, he caught a massive permit that weighed 38 pounds, just shy of a bluewater fly-caught world record. Despite dozens more attempts, he hasn’t caught another. As summer waned, every time the fly hit the water, his mind churned on hauling in a different catch: that little 17-inch Ryder Cup that lately has spent an inordinate amount of time in Europe’s boat.