If there’s one thing I am passionate about, it’s golf. Why is that? Because I am unable to master the game. When I was younger, I was a very, very good footballer. As a junior I represented my province in table tennis. I played A grade squash. I played basketball and coached women’s, men’s and junior teams. I play a mean game of tennis. I can hold my own at volleyball. I was a champion lawn bowler and I played cricket for many years, well into my 40’s. Whatever sport I have taken up I have excelled at. But golf? A most frustrating game and one in which I learnt a lot of swear words.
The playing of golf has some natural elements. You’ve heard the expression about a person being a natural sportsman. This holds true for golf as well and if you have good eye and hand coordination, then hitting the ball sweetly comes easy. But hitting the ball into the exact spot to take advantage of the layout of a particular fairway and then reading the green to putt the ball into a small hole is another level of the game.
When I started out playing the game, I bought a cheap set of clubs from a friend, bought a few balls, tees, gloves and joined a local social golf club. I started disastrously, to the extent that not many players wanted to be put into my group because of the number of strokes I took. The first round of 18 holes cost me 184 shots. Par was 73! I could see that this game was going to involve a lot more study and attention if I wanted to enjoy playing. And I did enjoy golf, even with such a dud round. The beautiful courses maintained to perfection, the flora and fauna in the roughs and around the putting green all made for a glorious day. It was just that the golf was ruining a good walk!
The more I played, the more I realised that the technology available in the equipment was rather mind boggling. You could buy titanium drivers, unique tees, and golf balls with scientifically developed cores that can make them spin, grip and go further. There was new material for gloves, putters that almost had sights to aim, buggies that were remote controlled, and electronic scorecards. Now a recent innovation allowed on golf courses are handheld and watch style GPS devices.
Arming myself with every possible aid that I thought would help my game, I did improve…sometimes. Golf is such a game that one day you can hit an 80 for the 18 holes then the next time, playing the same course, you come home with an 111! I only took advice from players that had a lower handicap than me. I made the big mistake of not taking some basic lessons and practising simple strokes like putting and chipping. There’s a saying that ‘You drive for show and putt for dough”. Very true. Sadly, due to travel commitments, I have been away from golf for over 5 years. That means a virtual restart of everything learnt so far. Fore!