Posted @ 13:59How to not play golf
Over the years (and, believe me, there have been several), I have not played golf on a large number of occasions and I've become very good at it. Oh, I practice, of course: every spare moment (and some of the more busy ones) is devoted to practicing not playing golf. But there is a difference between practicing not playing golf and actually not playing it.
I began my not playing golf career with quite a substantial handicap: I quite liked crazy
gold golf courses and putting greens and this often got in the way of the royal and ancient sport of having nothing to do with golf whatsoever. As my life progressed, I put off these youthful frivolities (not without some effort) and - apart from enjoying the wry humour of Peter Allis - became the scratch non-golfer I am today.
This has not been without its hurdles. In all walks of life you meet golfers and they unfailingly try and get you interested in it. This contrasts them markedly with football supporters & players, cricket nuts and, to a large extent (I'm thinking of my mate Keith here), Formula One fanatics. In my turn, I have tried to get the golfers interested in not playing golf but I have failed to impress them with the beauty and elegance of the noble (royal & ancient) sport of never playing golf at all.
Not playing golf means not having to buy clubs, not having pay green & membership fees and - best of all - not having to wear ludicrous clothes (I know that many golfers don't wear ludicrous clothes as a rule but I am painfully aware it is something they aspire to). A significant increase in the number of people not playing golf in this country would have the beneficial effect of freeing large swathes of the TV schedules for more interesting programmes such as static hiss & white noise, still images of paint drying & cement setting, and re-runs of Take The High Road. There would also be the added benefit of large areas of the countryside not looking like they were designed by Alan Titmarsh after a particularly ferocious encounter with massive quantities of an hallucinogenic drug (but, thinking about it for eleven seconds, I realise that the result of Alan Titmarsh designing golf courses whilst taking hallucinogenic drugs would probably be a significant improvement on the results of "traditional" golf course designers).
Whilst there is only one type of person who doesn't play golf (sane rational beings), there appear to be three types of golfer:
- The ones who play golf to mark some presumed acquisition of (or aspiration to) high socio-economic status. These people buy all the gear: the gloves, the heated club covers, the trolley for the bag, the monogrammed tees and the strangely patterned jumpers. The pleasure they get from golf appears to consist almost entirely of telling bad jokes & indulging in rampant fascism in the comfort of the "nineteenth hole", and telling everyone they're "taking the afternoon off for a round of golf". They are proud of being able to call their club's professional by his first name (even though he's not qualified for the British Open for the last 12 years). I would refer such people to the relevant quatrains of Dante's Inferno where their special circle of hell is described, except they'd probably think it was the name of a small Italian restaurant or the latest sports car.
- People who like hitting a ball with a stick around a wind-swept rain-soaked, badly-landscaped (see above) piece of countryside in early March then returning to the pub for a couple of beers with people who don't play golf (some of us professionally). These people only have one major drawback: they talk about golf as if it was interesting (and want you to be interested, too). The sort of people I have in mind are sometimes called Chris and Dave and I may have had a drink with them now and again.
The last category is a bit of guesswork as I've never met anyone of the slightest female persuasion who plays golf. I've read about female golf players and seen images of them on TV, but this proves nothing: the things I've read about them have mostly been in crime fiction (Agatha Christie, in particular, has a frequent type of female character who plays golf: young, independently wealthy, usually thought of as "a good egg", is the murderer [sorry, gave away the ending]) and the images - even in news broadcasts - could be faked so that I'll think that golf is far more interesting than it really is.
What it boils down to is that one gains a fantastic insight into the world by not playing golf; and you stay healthy (getting rained and winded on in the cause of a sport is not very healthy). And - in general - the people you meet by not playing golf are much more interesting, rounded human beings who wear clothes that don't look like they were designed by someone who is only safe using wax crayons.
Your first (and only) lesson in how not to play golf is this: do not play golf. But your "not playing golf" should be elegant, erudite, beautiful, co-ordinated and skilled. Do it with panache.