When I first began this little taradiddle one of my avowed intentions was to investigate the range of hobbies that might be open to me. Since then, I have done little about it. Having recently published a post about the TV program ‘How?’ (and finding out that you are almost all too young to remember it) I have decided that the time has come to make the effort. So here we go, possible hobby #1: golf.
Generally speaking, I am not the kind of person I would expect to be best received in golfing circles. I will never find my name atop the list of ‘must-have new members’ for any newly-elected golf captain. Whilst I have any number of single gloves (usually on account of losing one on the bus) I do not possess brightly checked slacks, tartan socks or a Pringle sweater. I cannot engage in earnest conversation about the horsepower of my car, as I do not know it. I do not own a Pied a Terre in Southern France; I do not keep my business afloat single-handedly. In short, I am not the ‘right stuff’.
That’s not to say that I have not had a go at bashing the gutta percha around a third division golf course every now and then. I did, at one time, gather together a ramshackle collection of car-boot-sale golf clubs and a golf bag, known to one and all as the Tardis, due to its Brobdingnagian scale, which meant that, with or without clubs, it required two men to lift it. I even managed to acquire a pair of jumble sale golf shoes for £1, which had probably seen sterling service when they were manufactured, sometime around the First World War. I suspect that the kind of bunkers they were designed for were not lined with sand.
We played on the kind of courses that had eighteen holes only if you went round them twice: where the bunkers were generally lined with builder’s rubble and the most difficult hazards to avoid were the stray dogs; where the fairway was separated from the rough simply by dint of the fact that it was possible to walk on the fairway without getting nettle rash above the knee; where the greens were identifiable only because they had a flag in them and the mole hills had been flattened with a spade. Some of them had water hazards, but these were generally associated with leaking urinals. They were the kind of golf courses that necessitated the invention of new rules e.g. if your ball lands in the middle of a cowpat, it can be abandoned and the next shot can be played with a new ball, without penalty, from anywhere shit-free in the general vicinity.
I always lugged around a carrier bag of golf balls, simply because I generally lost so many of them. They were of a type that were found by dog walkers and, if I was able to orientate the teeth marks to the right side, they could auto-correct my natural slice. They did make putting tricky though. Mind you, little more than the rabbit droppings to be fair.
Anyway, those golfing days, such as they were, are now over. Golf clubs have either closed or become gentrified, and I am not great at the observance of arcane rules. I am always polite and I have no problem with dress codes, but the social pretention associated with some of these places is off the scale. There are only so many times that I am able to explain that, yes, the little Ford Fiesta is my only car and no, I really don’t have a problem getting to the house in it once I have turned off the road and onto the driveway in the snow (my driveway being approximately three feet longer than my car) although it is also fair to say that my golf bag will only fit into my car with the back seat down and the passenger seat pushed so far forward that my golfing partner requires at least five holes grace in which to straighten out his/her back. Golf is a fine game, but not one for which, if I am honest, I am temperamentally suited. It’s fair to say that, by and large, golf clubs and I are probably better off without one another.
Besides, I’ve just been in the shed and discovered that the mice have taken up residence in my golf bag, the wheels have fallen off my trolley and the clubs themselves have been wedged under the lawn mower with the result that I could probably chip around corners with them. Any future association I am likely to have with putter and ball will probably involve ‘mountain’ clad tunnels, spinning windmills and the knowledge that I have, at last, found my level.
Golf is a good walk spoiled. – Mark Twain