Monday, January 14, 2008

On playing golf...

Our dad and Ned had played golf since the early 1970’s, I started to learn at the same time as Ned when we were in our teens but I wisely stopped after he hit me under the jaw with a #1 wood on his backswing when I stood too close to him.

So for all of my teenage years I was regaled with their stories of birdies and eagles and even a hole in one on the various golf courses that they played, I watched them go on trips to Scotland to play some mythical courses of golf legend and I sat through endless Sunday afternoon golf competitions on TV during which they sat agog at the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin while I opened a vein and wished for it all to end.

Rawdon Golf Club became their base and I was dragged up there on a regular basis to sit in the bar and listen to boring old farts witter on endlessly about birdies, eagles and the odd hole in one whilst Ned and our dad got drunker and drunker and I stayed on the lemonade so that I could drive them home afterwards – think of Cinderella, that was me, I was Cinderella to their ugly golf sisters – I even let them beat me often at snooker, golf and snooker seemed to go hand in hand, they are both terrible games which I will never master.

And so it was with some surprise that after our dad had passed over to the great golf clubhouse in the sky where birdies, eagles and holes in one are commonplace and there is still a dress code in the clubhouse, I found myself with a strange inheritance – our dad’s golf clubs.

I won them in the inheritance raffle by default because our Ned already had our dads better set of clubs – I got the set from the 1970’s with proper wooden drivers, wood “woods” no less, proper Ping wood “woods”, I was under-impressed and they found a space at the back of my garage.

And then several years later there was a knock at my door and when I opened it there stood Howard and Andy, two old friends who were football mad but now looking for something to do during the summer close season, “fancy a game of bowls?” they asked.

For a lack of anything else to do at the time I left the house and followed them to Horsforth bowling green where we joined a dozen or so ancient pensioners in the equally ancient art of crown green bowling – Howard’s dad taught us some of the finer points and actually gave me a set of his old bowls which I still have in my garage, I regret that I have not used them since.

Bowls was fun for half an hour but it did not fill in the football close season with the sort of intensity that Howard and Andy sought and so the very next morning there was another knock at the door and when I opened it there stood Howard and Andy again, “fancy a game of golf?” they asked.

I was whisked away to a nearby driving range and had a set of borrowed clubs thrust into my hand, a basket of crappy golf balls later and I was starting to hit the things occasionally with no control over where they would go, I was playing golf to the standard normally achieved by most golf players.

We each went through three baskets that day and the next morning I ached like buggery across my shoulders but was hooked, by perchance we had a golf course with a driving range situated exactly opposite my house at the time and I spent the following months over there every night practising with basket upon basket of balls until I had spent several hundred pounds on a set of clubs, a bag, a trolley, thousands of balls, one glove and some jaunty golf apparel.

And then we booked some lessons.

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