Sunday, October 14, 2007


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."


Kim said...

I love golf. But then, mostly I go to the driving range just to take my frustrations out as I smack that little white ball. Very satisfying.

Motheratlarge said...

Hah! Thank you so much for this posting. Golf gets under my skin and I don't even play it. Just living in an area riddled with its fans is enough.

My mother was disqualified from a match for the cardinal sin of ... wait for it.... lending her opponent a golf club. She was doing a kind thing - and got punished by these silly rules. Such self-important pomposity!

You are so very right about the shoes. When I was six months pregnant, some teenage job's worth (yes, wearing a pastel polo shirt) evicted me from my mother's clubhouse for wearing trainers.

I know there's a lot to be said for moving on/letting go etc. etc. but nearly two years later I am still seething. Seething!

Belladonna said...

The only time I was invited to a golf club (for a bridge match) I turned up wearing jeans. Sharp intakes of breath all round. I apologised. I offered to remove said jeans, but had no alternative clothing. Eventually after much studying of rule books, they allowed me to stay and play.

It was a trying experience so I thought I would fortify myself with a quick gin and tonic. I went into the bar to be greeted by more sharp intakes of breath. "Look, I'm sorry about the jeans. Bit of a faux-pas, I know. Shan't do it again. Sorry."

"It's not the jeans" said the barman. "Though they don't help. We don't serve women."

Ye gods wifey. You want to avoid golfing. They're all looneytunes.

Potty Mummy said...

I am SO unsupportive to my husband's wish to learn to play golf.

Way I see it: he works all week. If the Boys are lucky they see him first thing - maybe 3 days in 5. If they are extremely lucky they see him before bed - maybe one day in 5. He often goes to the office at the weekend. He usually spends at least 2 days a week travelling, so gets home late or after I'm in bed (if at all, and he's not somewhere remote and needs to stay over).

So is it likely I'm going to encourage him to take up a sport that takes him out of the house for the greater part of a day each weekend?


advocate said...

I have lost count of the number of times people have asked me if I play golf. My husband does, to the point that "golf" is now a four-letter word in our household. So far, this year, he's played in Portugal, Celtic Manor, St. Andrews, Wentworth & Woodbury Park (that's Nigel Mansell's course, you know), not to mention the regular Saturday and Sunday game at his own club. Next year, he's already planning a trip to Madrid to play there. You see, he might work hard, but he also manages to play hard. I just wish I had the time. It must be a man thing.

Unknown said...

I've never understood the lure of driving around in wimpy little carts to try and smack a tiny ball with a club. Even after working a charity golf tournament for my last employers, I don't understand it.

Thank heavens my husband loathes sports. His being forced to coach soccer as part of his remaining employed by the school systems takes enough time away from his family to suit either of us.

Swearing Mother said...


A good walk spoilt in my opinion.

The Woman who Can said...

I went to Portugal recently, and one of my friends who plays golf asked if I was going to play on one of the billions of good courses. I asked if I could play in flip flops.

I didn't play.

belle said...

My Dad's a golf fanatic. One year he was Captain and had to host a ball. A three line whip was issued to rest of the family so we all dutifully turned up. Part way through the evening my brother in law, Captain Ahab and myself decided a bit of caberet was called for so for my mother's delectation and delight we performed our version of Riverdance. When she put her head down on the table, because it was easier to allow the tears of laughter to be soaked up by the tablecloth than to have to keep constantly wiping them away, the steward came over and asked if she would like us to be removed from the premises ... We've not been asked back.

merry weather said...

Golf is a very slow game - you're not particularly slow - are you? (I spent 10 years working in a golf club and was lucky to get out alive.)

Lessons with a pro could be fun - possibly more fun than the game itself actually...

Rounders wifey, rounders is the best game in the world - you just need to overcome your fear of the ball.

But, do keep trying things - it's fun hearing all about it :)

@themill said...

Golf - why???

Whispering Walls said...

Morning! The bloggers lunch is going to be at 12.30pm at the Carlton Club on Thursday 15 November. Hope you can make it.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

I play golf - very badly but not as badly as an ex partner. I used to play with him but his motor skills at golf were so bad that he rarely got the ball off the ground. He would have been better playing with a snooker cue and ditching the the clubs in a lake. 18 holes of playing with him were sheer hell and it would be dark by the time we got to the 19th hole for an alcoholic snorter to warm us up. Every golfer fibs about their handicaps just so they have a psychological advantage over their apponents. Not him, he really was that bad, bless him.

DogLover said...

Golf? Don't try it, WITN. It's terribly difficult and not for people who don't like difficult things. The people in the clubs are quite normal, probably just like you, but (as in all clubs) there have to be rules and they may seem strange to non-members.

But if you do try it, do start with lessons, which can save a lot of frustration and stand you in good stead for the rest of your playing days. Who knows? you might find you liked the game and that it's a marvellous way to spend your leisure time in the fresh air and amongst beautiful scenery. There must be some reason why people get hooked on it, after all!


AlisonK said...

On the date of this post, I was walking past just such a golf course on my way to the castle, the village beyond and the Jolly Fisherman for lunch. And back.
I have to say we scoffed at the golfers en route. Especially with the attraction of the beach just over the dunes - it was such a glorious day I paddled on the way back. The surfers make more sense to me. My only connection with golf has been that I do have a golfing sun visor which I wear instead of a hat (hats make my head too hot) when it is sunny. Like 14th Oct this year. Might I have passed you, Wifey?

Sandra Montgomery said...

Have you ever seen the clip of Robin Williams explain how golf was invented? It's fabulous.