Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Golf: A good walk enchanced

I am not perturbed by the fact that I have never played golf before. I have won a round of golf for two (plus use of the golf cart) at Jack’s Point and I’m determined to use it. It’s not often you get anything for fee – and nor is it here; we have to hire a set of clubs each and buy some balls. $150 later and we are ready to play.

I have dressed in suitable attire – I found a t-shirt with a collar (it’s from Rebellion Brewery, but no one will know that unless they look closely), a pair of dark dress shorts and a diamond-patterned jumper, and I have pulled my hair back into a plait. Him Outdoors assures me that we both look the part. The only problem is that we now have to actually play some golf.

Him Outdoors has done this before so he takes me to the practice area to give me some tips. He tells me how to grip the club. He says, “It’s just like cricket.” I’ve never played cricket. I try to think helpfully of other bat and ball sports. I say, “Is it like tennis?” Apparently not. We have a bit of a go at driving and putting (it’s all about the lingo) and I even get one or two balls to go where I want them to. “Is it like hockey?” I ask, with more confidence. Not really.

Never mind, we set off in the little buggy thing over the bridge and to the first tee. Later I discover there are three varieties: blue; white and yellow – the yellow one is the ‘ladies’ tee’ because it is easier – I am too crap to feel patronised by this. Him Outdoors slices his first shot into the rough and mine goes into the stream. At least we look the part as we look for the balls...

It’s fun. I’m rubbish but I don’t care. The scenery is phenomenal and the air is fresh. We keep forgetting we’ve got a cart and we have to go back and get it several times. It’s fun to drive around the green, though I can’t hit the ball far enough to make it necessary. A couple come along behind us and Him Outdoors invites them to ‘play through’ – I get the impression that they would anyway, and they give us disparaging looks – I just smile and wave.

Him Outdoors discovers that his golf balls are magnetised by matagouri and are frequently drawn to the side of the fairway into impenetrable thickets of the stuff. Distracted by the ‘money shot’ – you know the one; it’s on all the brochures – he finds another four balls where his has landed. Others have clearly made the same error but can’t be bothered to retrieve their whiteware.

We encounter a foursome and a dog who are also all enjoying their day out. We have a brief chat where Him Outdoors attempts to sound knowledgeable and I mind my own business. One of the gents explains that he had promised his lady a meal if she came for a round of golf with him on Valentine’s Day. Him Outdoors and I had no idea that it was the day of the prince of hearts, but we decide it is as romantic a way to send it as any.

Him Outdoors keeps saying, “Oh, dear, I don’t know what else to tell you.” Really there is nothing to say and although he gets frustrated by his lack of technique, I am not expecting anything else and am quite happy with my ‘inconsistency’. On one hole I get a score of four; on the next, twenty-nine (later I find out that people stop counting after ten).

My problem (among others) is that I get to the green okay but then I over-putt and the ball sails past the hole and ends up in the bunker – by the time I heft the ball out of there I use up another heap of shots and inevitably it ends up on the other side. At least I get to use every club in the bag – I like the names; the woods, irons, wedges and drives. I also like the ones with little sock cosies to keep them warm and dry. I realise halfway through that every time Him Outdoors tells me to use a six I have been using a nine, but I decide to keep quiet – it would only upset him.

When we finish we eat lunch at the clubhouse surveying the ponds and the grounds – they are extensive and pleasant. My neck and wrists hurt (which is proof positive, should it be needed, that my golfing stance is rubbish) and I can see a bruise developing where I connected a sand wedge with my shin, but I am happy and contented eating my steak sandwich and drinking a crisp
Moa blanc.

Golf is an onomatopoeic game: thwack; clock; putt; tap; swoosh; hook; chip; drill. Or in my case: hack; miss; slice; swipe; thud; bang; ouch! I enjoy it and it is a grand day out. I have a new appreciation for it as a game (although I still have reservations about its claims to be a sport) and no longer agree with Mark Twain’s summation that it is a ‘good walk spoiled’, but I’m not sure I’ll be rushing back – not unless I have a spare $200 lying around.

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