Recently it hasn’t been too hard to find something to write about but I was struggling this week – until an envelope was extricated from the post box. It was in with a couple of bank-related missives (credit card statements as it turned out) and it looked similarly official but had a proper, real stamp on it. Mmmm. It was addressed to me all right. I have to try and remember to check before ripping stuff open because I still get post for a mystery woman who used to live here years ago, long before my time and the time of the people I bought the house from.
Anyway, I opened it dear reader – and found the bill for my golf club subs. Ah.
It wasn’t exactly a shock – it’s that time of year – but I hadn’t read the details in the email that came in a few days ago, informing me that the subs had gone up (didn’t have the strength that day). This time I took in the figures – and threw the tempting stuff about that big pro-am in Pinehurst into the recycling.
Dai, contrary as always but possibly right, as he was occasionally, thought that we – and golfers in general – paid too little for our membership, that it was remarkably good value. And that was before retirement, in the days when we were working away so much that we were the perfect members: we paid our subs on time, in full and hardly every cluttered up the course. There was the occasional disruption, for instance when my partner and I (not Dai – we were not compatible in foursomes or greensomes, having completely different approaches to the game) were thrown out of one major competition, after winning our first match, because someone noticed that I had not put in three qualifying scores in the previous year. Oops. I felt sorry, not for us but for the poor souls we’d beaten.
In those days getting the three scores in was tricky beyond belief. Tuesday was usually a travelling day and Sunday was a working day, so playing in comps was harder than you’d think. How times have changed. Flicking through the diary, I totted up more than 40 games at Whittington Heath so far this year. Not excessive but at the new subscription rate that works out at just under £32 an outing – and there are still four months to go. Play twice a week and you’re down to just over £12. And that’s not counting playing in club matches – home and away – or trips to the club for draw nights, meetings, chit-chat and asking advice in the pro’s shop, playing a few holes on a lovely evening, coffee (or wine) and chat in the clubhouse and general putting-off-doing-the-blog visits.
I count that as outstanding value for money and you can’t put a price on the friendships made and the support from those friends over the years. Bloody hell, it’s a snip at £1,270 a year: sub 1,190; bar/catering 50; full locker 30 (vital when you haven’t got a garage). Where are those bank details again? And do I really need to put the heating on in August? (Paying in instalments adds 3.5%, which is more than my Scottish/sensible streak can bear. Even though it’s only £3.70 a month extra by my phone’s calculation.)
I do object to being designated an FL – Lady Full Playing. I am a full playing/paying member full stop – and patently no lady – but categories of membership are still struggling to catch up with the modern world. I’m a fan of family memberships, to try and attract and keep the 25-45 year olds who are working hard and starting families and may not even be able to play once a week, so £1,000-plus is more than an item. It’s a minefield out there but if we want to survive and thrive, we have to learn to navigate it. All suggestions gratefully received.
Yesterday, during my post tai chi, blog-delaying visit to the club, I looked at a friend’s copy of The Times, working from the back as usual. I flicked through the umpteen pages of football (not even looking for who Spurs might be buying at the last minute), paused for a happy moment on the cricket (is this a welcome real revival of the Windies?), tennis from Flushing Meadows and checked to see what golf was on – the season is still in full swing isn’t it?
No golf. Not anywhere. Not that I could see. That’s one of the reasons I no longer buy a newspaper on a regular basis, much though it pains me. They haven’t the room or the inclination to cover golf week in, week out. They cherry pick, leaving us to scrabble for info elsewhere. Fortunately, the owner of the paper (not Rupert Murdoch) – and someone else who overheard our discussion – was clued up enough to inform me that Robert Rock, who’s a local lad (my friend Barb was his mother’s hairdresser), wasn’t playing in wherever it is this week and finished well enough in Denmark last week to move up to 80th-odd in the order of merit.
I might have found all that out on the internet but it was more fun finding out at the golf club. And isn’t that what clubs are for?