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The curse that is golf

04 October 2012, 13:16

I was recently invited to a corporate Golf Day, and I accepted, even though golf is a game which makes absolutely no sense to me. It just doesn’t make sense, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone actually enjoy the game.

Because I’m, a bit of a sports nut, I watch the occasional game of golf as well, but it might as well be a form of nature documentary, cause you see an awful lot of sky. Then you see trees and bushes and grass, and listen to commentators saying what a brave shot that was, and so on…

So, do the actual weekend golfers enjoy the game? I was about to find out. This was the first time I’d ever played golf, so it was hardly likely I was going to make much of an impact. Nevertheless, I managed to shoot a seventy-two. The other guys told me not to get too excited, because the second hole wouldn’t be that easy.

Weekend golfers do not enjoy the game. They curse, they kick the ground in frustration, they throw their clubs into the lake, they bend them on trees, but next week, there they are. I have a theory, which is the only thing that makes sense.

Golf is not a game; it’s a drug. And a pretty expensive one, at that.

They buy expensive gear, the best clubs, Michael Jackson-style gloves, lessons, pay exorbitant green fees and hit their, very expensive, balls into the trees, into the lake, even onto another green.

Watching golf on TV, it all looks so easy, and we ooh and aah when we see the pros sink these monstrous, snaking putts, pitching a ball from the bunker to within easy putting distance of the pin, driving prodigious distances, and then we decide we want to do it.

So let’s go back to the time, the only time I played. My drive was good, sliced slightly, but good and long: 220 metres. My putt was also 220 metres. Not so good. But it was my first time. My golfing partner, who was a regular weekend addict, didn’t fare much better.

We teed off on the first hole and, just for the record, he was a first class sportsman, both cricket and rugby, and he ignored the first rule of all ball sports: keep your eye on the ball.

His back-lift was prodigious and, as he swung the club he looked up to where the ball was supposed to be going. The club-head made fierce contact with the ball, which shot off to the right and ricocheted off a concrete bench, striking his caddy on the kneecap, at which he shot up into the air as if he’d just found a ferret in his pants, clubs flying every which way. He rolled on the ground, holding onto his knee and literally moaning with the pain, while my friend swore, threw down his club, swore again and picked it up again. The ball had gone about eight feet from the tee.

He hooked it into the trees this time, ignoring his caddy, who was writhing in pain. He threw down his club again, cast about in the mess on the ground for an iron, then stormed off into the long grass to find his ball. Then stroked the ball cleanly onto the green, and turned to me with a wide grin on his face. Tiger Woods had nothing on him! Except for the next hole and the next one, and a back nine that would make anyone cringe.

But come Monday, and he can’t wait for the weekend to torture himself again. I think the inimitable Carl Hiaasen put it best: As every golf addict knows, all it takes is one great shot to keep you hooked.

Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be your own.

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