Not so long ago, Maureen noted that over the years I’d demonstrated an aversion to the practice ground, undoubtedly to the detriment of my golf, if not my back. Anyway, the last couple of Saturdays, I’ve enjoyed a group practice session with a few others, the first very enjoyable, the other nearly as chilling as a dinner invitation from Hannibal Lecter.
We were working out how far we hit our irons and I was more than happy to put on my glasses and help with the assessments. I didn’t relish doing my own measurements because I already knew the answer: no distance at all. In fact, most of my shots endangered the young professional diligently honing his game a little to our right. The golfing readers will be ahead of me and will be making a mental note to keep well behind me if we’re playing together. Yes, I started shanking and didn’t stop until I put the irons away and used my trusty rescue.
Instead of putting in the time and effort to learn how to hit my irons properly (a depressing, tiring, fruitless business in my case), I have solved – ok, avoided – the problem by keeping them in the bag. The poor wee souls have rarely hit a full shot in anger, destined never to reach their potential, confined to a bit of a pitch here, a chip and run there. It’s a strategy that has its limitations but it does make club selection fairly straightforward.
In far-off times, my favourite club was my 3-iron but who even owns such an implement nowadays? Certainly not an old bat with commitment issues.
And my fitness and flexibility leave a lot to be desired. I played three undistinguished rounds in four days earlier this week and wondered fuzzily if I should join a gym again…Weights, however light, are good for you at any age apparently.
Perhaps I should get the bike out? But not so long ago it was too wet and now it’s too hot and just looking at the Tour of Britain on the telly makes me want to lie down. How do they do it? And how do you have a mountain stage in Suffolk? Or perhaps I just misheard and the King of the Mountains had conquered Snowdonia? They wouldn’t even have noticed the titchy incline between Threapwood and Malpas that makes me puff pathetically.And if you get on your bike and overcome the early wobbles, you still have to watch out for potholes (we specialise in those in our part of Staffordshire), dozy pedestrians spilling off pavements and even dozier drivers tootling the wrong way round one of the biggest roundabouts in the county. Wow, how did he (it was bound to be a he, surely!) manage that? Sue M and I, who witnessed it, still haven’t puzzled it out. Fortunately, we don’t think there was anything hurtling round the right way. No reports of mangled wreckage anyway. The good thing about my bad golf is that it’s made me look twice at a recent email from WHGC: Invitation to Membership. It’s a rather quaint way of telling me that the subs are due and inviting me to renew my membership. It’s gone up, of course but I got out the old calculator (well, it’s on my phone like nearly everything else) and divided the total by 365, to see if it was still worth my while.
All being well with the calculator, the sum comes out at £4.79 a day and that includes the house levy (your food and drink starter fund), GolfGuard insurance (a whole £2.50), a large locker (£50) and something called a Ladies’ Golf Union fee (£21). That’s a bit puzzling because the LGU has been defunct for quite a few years now, subsumed into the R and A, I thought or England Golf or whatever but certainly no longer an entity onto itself. Amazing how long it takes the admin to catch up with the times…
Talking of catching up with the times, I played golf at a very familiar course the other day, for the first time in ages. It brought back many happy memories of past battles, particularly with the brother-in-law who’s a member there and of a Maureen birdie barrage many moons ago – they ran out of red numbers on the scoreboard, oh stellar stuff!
No danger of that with me – I’m not even sure I managed one of those par things as my chipping and putting failed to make up for deficiencies elsewhere. My opponent was not at her best either – neither of us relished the heat and humidity – but she recovered her game just in time, hit some proper shots (irons included) and finished me off at the 16th. Fortunately, the team won, so all was well. As dad used to say: “Every result makes somebody happy…”
It’s a phrase I’ve been using a lot recently and I keep recalling the advice Jack Nicklaus gave his old friend Kaye Kessler, a wonderful journalist who covered the great man’s career from the start but whose own golf was at best intermittent. “Don’t take that swing out of town,” Jack said.
Finally, the very best of luck to two of Whittington Heath’s finest: Sue Kershaw and Rachel Bailey. They’re heading out of town this weekend, undertaking a daunting hundred kilometre walk alongside the Thames in aid of Peaches, the womb cancer charity.
Sue, left and Rachel ready to go. Good luck both. Take it steady, no need to go like bats out of hell – though it’s forecast to be a scorcher.