I don’t have Sky any more, for a variety of reasons. Cost, for one, plus the fact that they lied to me, then set the debt collectors on me, not actions designed to endear a company to its customers, so I swore a great oath never to enter into another contract with them. Most important of all, however, was my fear of incarceration: I’m not sure I’d ever get out of the house. I’ll just wait until the end of this over; better have a look at the tennis from Australia; rugby from hemispheres south and north; golf, of course; and still lots of footie. Good grief, is that the time? Where has the day gone?
Anyway, I was up at the golf club watching a bit of the golf from Dubai, trying to keep up to date and I had to laugh at the first images I saw. A very cross-looking player was striding purposefully (is there any other way to stride?) in the wrong direction (i.e. away from the fairway), leaving the course in her wake. I don’t think she’d finished with the course for the day but was off in pursuit of a very, very errant shot, not for the first time, judging by her demeanour. Her fury and irritation radiated from the screen.
The Omega Dubai Ladies Classic at Emirates Golf Club, the last event of the LET season, is a far cry from the round robin at WHGC – there’s sun for a start and sparkling sub-par rounds by the halfway leader Anne Van Dam, of Holland, Scotland’s Kelsey MacDonald and Europe’s No 1 Georgia Hall, still playing well but jet-lagged and not-so-fresh from winning her LPGA card in America. But it’s all still golf and that’s why I laughed when I saw that disgruntled player. We’ve all, whatever our level, been there.
I was there just this Tuesday past. I was playing Pamela, a good friend, in the round robin and she had, she told me, played rubbish the previous day. Oh, oh, bad news I thought – and I was right. She played rather nicely, close to her handicap if not below and since I had to give her seven shots, I was always up against it and lost 4 and 2. It wasn’t the losing that hurt, it was the chipping and putting that was beyond execrable. I didn’t have any shots that sailed off the map, sending me trekking into the boondocks and I hadn’t spent hours on the practice ground honing my skills but it was hard to keep the annoyance and frustration in check as my ball rarely came within a beagle’s gowl* of the hole. Time to look at Mo’s tips again, perhaps even practise them!Dubai was followed by the men’s European Tour golf from South Africa, the Jo’burg Open and there was a professional golfer smiling, doing a little dance of joy because he’d holed a putt for a birdie. He looked as though he was enjoying his work. He was a South African called Omar Sandys and he was five under par at the time. As the commentators said, it’s not so easy looking happy when you’re five over but concentration is hard work – and golf does require concentration at key moments. I got to thinking how few golfers, professionals especially, ever look as though they’re having a good time on the golf course. Perhaps they feel that to be taken seriously, you have to look serious.
Or perhaps it’s just that most of us look serious when we’re concentrating. At choir, we’re always being told to inject a bit of joy into our singing but because we’re not very confident and are learning things that are new to us, we tend to be a bit cautious and downbeat and the singing suffers.
On reflection, that could be the key to better golf: make sure the joie de vivre comes first, release the tension and let the performance follow. Mmmm. Maybe I’ll just change my putter.
*Footnote: It has been brought to my attention that a translation might be needed, so here is the definition of beagle’s gowl from John Pepper’s stikkinout Ulster-English Dictionary: denotes proximity, within hearing of the barking beagles during a hunt: ‘I told him he wasn’t within a beagle’s gowl of the price I was looking for the car.’