Thursday, May 04, 2006

A good walk spoiled

Nice shot, sir!

How frustrating is golf? Bloody frustrating if you play like I do - and yet bizarrely I still enjoy it. Odd that. Anyway, yesterday was a rare sunny day, so I took it off and played golf with an old friend of mine. For years I'd been using the same old crappy set of clubs I bought when I was 15 and just starting out - and I still get junkmail from the place I bought them from, which is annoyingly impressive. A few weeks ago I received a four-figure cheque from Australia after cashing in my Superannuation I accrued whilst working over there, so I spent a fair whack (pun intended) of that on a new set of clubs.

What with Scotland being the home of golf (if you don't listen to the Dutch or Chinese), there are plenty of courses around here to carve up. The one we chose was reasonably long, straight and flat - good for getting back into the game (I'd not played for a couple of years). At the first tee, after a few scything practice swipes, I calmly teed the ball up, brandished my shiny new driver (the head of which is the size of a small dog), and with the next group looking on, promptly sliced the ball five feet along the ground - just making it off the raised teeing area.

So after that I figured it couldn't get much worse. Cocking up at the first tee is about as bad as it gets, as golf being what it is you assume every other player on the course is deftly skilled and sees you as some kind of feckless amateur. But the group behind lost a ball on the first and didn't have to wait for us at all, so we could get on with things at our own pace. Not that that helped my game any - but it was a nice sunny day (albeit windy), and it was good to put the new irons to some kind of use.

When I was in Australia in 2002 I played on a course in Northern Queensland, which was also great fun. Part of that was getting the chance to drive a golf buggy - and aside from nearly rolling it (which wasn't my fault), the closest I came to killing myself was when I picked up a rake to smooth over a bunker I'd just hacked out of, only to find a large pea-green spider sitting on the handle looking intently at my hand. I also sliced one into the bushes (a common occurrence when I'm not hooking into the bushes), and started poking around with my club in ankle-high scrub for my ball - forgetting that several of the world's deadliest snakes live wild there. So after freezing, and frantically scanning the leaves for a slavering camouflaged reptile, I quietly backed out of the rough and got another ball from my bag. As hard as the courses are in Scotland, at least you can go into the rough without being killed (which is good news for yours truly).