We don’t have long to save the planet, so it behoves us golfers, irrespective of whether we have children or grandchildren, to do our bit, don’t you think? The other evening I caught the tail end of a programme about the damage that fashion – yes, clothes, shoes, the sort of thing all of us wear every day – does to the environment. Setting aside the exploitation of many of the people who work long hours in rubbish conditions for very little pay so that we can buy tee shirts for tuppence halfpenny (or fippence, as my Spiddle-born Galway granny used to say, well ahead of decimalisation), it’s the tsunamis of water used in the making of garments, the grunge from the dyes discharged into rivers that turn into death traps rather than life-savers that pollute more than almost anything else. Fracking? Not in the same league. Coal? Ditto. You get the picture.
For instance, have you ever given a single solitary thought to the provenance of your golf glove? No, neither had I. And that’s not just because it’s many years since I’ve worn one. That was not a case of social conscience, more lack of funds allied to congenital meanness, big hands and a dodgy grip (despite the best efforts of some very sound teachers). It was hard to find one that fitted properly, they didn’t last long and they cost a lot. I moved onto Elastoplast (think that probably needs a trademark sign despite having achieved the status of a generic term for plasters), then gave that up and relied on skin and battled through the pain of the odd blister.
As usual I digress. It may be different now but at one time, not so long ago, a leather glove’s life started in Africa, on the stomach of a young goat – yes, a kid, a mere baby – before being shipped to the creme de la creme of tanners in Somerset; then it travelled to Taiwan, to be stitched by nimble-fingered seamstresses, perhaps with state-of-the-art machinery; after that it was off to the United States (it was the days when they always won the Ryder Cup, so they were probably great), where it was packaged and shipped off across the world to wherever, including your own professional’s shop, should you deign to support her or him – cheaper from the high street golf shops perhaps or tax giants like Amazon.
That got me thinking about that magic material Gortex and all the wonderful, easy, stretchy things we wear nowadays as a matter of course. Those things that mean I don’t have to own an iron or ironing board. How are they made? What damage do they do? Does that make us all culpable? Guilty of turning a blind eye to our part in buggering up the planet? How many millions of us are there? If we all did one little tiny thing to change, we’d make a difference, if we all made the same tiny little change at the same time, we’d be dangerous!
I used to think that I wouldn’t mind if Florida, which is only a few feet above sea level after all, sank but then, as it started being battered by storms, I started to think about all the friends I had who lived there and I realised that, selfish git though I was, Florida mattered to me. Admittedly, I cared more about my friends and the manatees than the golf courses but the health of Florida is important to the health of the planet and the more Floridians who wake up to that fact the better. The golf courses, sensitively and ecologically managed, could be a big force for good. And I think that goes for everywhere in the world.
It’s a bit scary to think that what we do, every single one of us, makes any difference whatsoever but, inescapably, it does, we do. Can we cope with the responsibility?
This week, on a less global note, the redoubtable women of WHGC (Whittington Heath GC) took on the seniors in our annual match. As usual, we lost, but this time only narrowly 3 1/2 – 4 1/2. Seniors are sensitive souls – I suspect it comes with age – so we don’t like to beat them up too badly, if at all. We’ve now got a very equitable format – stableford match play, with the men playing off their card and we women playing off our stroke index. As a rule it makes for close, competitive matches. My partner and I won on the 18th – she holed a bit of a monster putt to win the 16th to get us back to all square and then won the last, where she had a shot, with an immaculate par, for three points.
The next day we were off in a coach, to Blackpool, for a tea dance at the legendary Tower Ballroom, the mecca of ballroom dancing. It was brill. It was just wonderful to see so many people of all ages and stages swirling around with a smile on their face, loving every minute. My partner and I, who must still rank as 35-handicappers at best, can now say that our dance shoes have set foot on one of the most hallowed floors in the world – think St Andrews, Augusta National, Royal Melbourne. And the good thing about Blackpool is we didn’t take any divots…..