The North East is big on golf. In my previous life, I never saw the attraction; the clothes for one thing. All those pastel colours and slacks. But I like to give things a go and look the part when I am doing it. Move me to the country and I will buy a tweed cloche and wellies; invite me to a golf club and I will buy a pale pink golf shirt, sun visor and one pink leather glove. (You only buy one glove for reasons that defeat me.) And golf shoes of course. They get quite fussy about the shoes you wear. (I had thought I might get away with my lambskin slippers.)
My friend said he would take me golfing about six weeks ago; we tried but it was pouring down so we only made it as far as the clubhouse. I made the mistake in the intervening period of wearing the pink shirt. (What can I say? It was new.)This meant that when we tried to play golf again, I had a lovely stain of pasta sauce just where the baby girl rests her head when you lift her out of the high chair and carry her upstairs after dinner. I did not have time to attempt an industrial strength stain removal. Instead, I tilted my head so that my hair which is shoulder length and frankly, badly in need of a cut, would cover the stain. It worked but I looked as if I was slightly simple or needed a neck brace.
One of the attractions of golf up here are the views from the courses; this one has sandy beaches, pounding waves, a castle built on a basalt crag, the Farne islands, lighthouses and Holy Island in the distance. All that beauty and you spend your time looking at or for a small white ball. I would stand, legs slightly apart, hands gripping the club, I would attempt to keep my left arm straight as I swung the club then I would bring it down in a fluid motion, entirely missing the ball. I think the damn things jump. It reminded me so much of playing rounders at school that I almost broke out in acne. Then, I could never decide which I found more traumatic batting or fielding. There I would be in my games skirt and my sports knickers, rounders bat gripped in my sweaty hands. I would stand sideways on. I would look at the girl about to throw the ball. I would grip the bat a little harder. I would think: "This time, I am going to hit it." She would throw it. I would thresh the air with my bat and the ball would sail by into the hands of the backstop. I hated that game. Even now, the thought of it depresses me. That must be why golf courses have those little sandy oases with the rakes: when it gets pressured, the players can unwind with some Japanese gardening. They do make life difficult for themselves though. As we walked the six holes we played, I noticed various gullies and ravines, gorse bushes and hillocks. If they levelled the ground, they would find it so much easier to play although they seem happy enough wandering around with their teddy bears. Or maybe that was just the chap I was playing golf with. All very Brideshead. Apparently, if you have a soft toy covering the head of your club, it shows you have a sense of humour and do not take the game too seriously. Right. That would be why they have so many rules then because they treat the game as a bit of a laugh.
They have rules for everything:
Rule 1-1/4 "Player Discovers Own Ball Is in Hole After Playing Wrong Ball"
Rule 1-2/4 "Player Jumps Close to Hole to Cause Ball to Drop"
or this one
Rule 1-4/3 "Flagstick Stuck into Green Some Distance from Hole by Practical Joker"
or Rule 1-4/10 what you do in the event of a "Dangerous Situation: Rattlesnake or Bees Interfere with Play"
or my personal favorite Rule 2-4/17 "Player in Erroneous Belief Match Is Over Shakes Opponent's Hand and Picks Up Opponent's Ball"
Having trawled the rule book of around 500 pages, I guarantee lawyers like golf. But it is fair to say, despite a chronic inability to hit the ball, I enjoyed my game of golf more than I ever enjoyed a game of rounders. My friend said as we drove away: "If you want to take it up, you'd have to have lessons." I said: "How can I do that? I'm working: I'm supposed to spend any spare time I have with the children." He said: "Well, men do it." I said: "Exactly."