AS ANOTHER GOLF SEASON draws to its close many of us lesser mortals will be in a state of sadness. Despite having had a lesson, paid for at least two buckets of practice range balls and even undertaken the odd session on the putting green before terminal boredom overtook us, our handicap has had the bare faced temerity to go up. And now we face five months of cold, wind and rain. Let’s take a look at what lies ahead.
First up is the amount of golf wear we have to pull on. Each year the golf magazines assail our senses with what purports to be gossamer light rain wear that won’t only be waterproof, warm and comfortable it might even add yards to our drive. It is dispiriting to find that when one actually wears the outfit our already short swing turns into something more closely resembling a truncated slap in hockey.
Waterproof trousers are an even bigger problem as they are designed to be worn over regular trousers. But, having found a pair with a generous enough waistband the legs are often tailored for a man of nearly seven feet with a 42” inside leg. Thus we bear a striking resemblance to Charlie Chaplin’s little tramp as we scuff our way towards the first tee.
Golf professionals can often be seen wearing what is known as ‘cold gear’ as a first layer that is made of that shiny material favoured by cyclists in the Tour de France. As there is comfortably more fat on a butcher’s pencil than there is on most golf professionals and all Tour de France cyclists, when we pull them on it is akin to trying to fit a particularly tight skin on a very large sausage.
The effect is visually hideous, as well as creating the same sensation as applying a tourniquet to one’s midriff. Factor in the already constrictive jacket and the overlong trousers and we are already facing huge logistical problems without having left the changing room.
All this is before we have decided on our headgear and here we have a choice between the wooly hat in club colours that is superb in arctic conditions but carries more water than the average storm cloud as the heavens open as we approach the green on the furthest and wildest extremity of the course, or the baseball style cap that regular blows off as we reach the top of our backswing and careers, often a good deal further than our tee shot, into deep undergrowth or a large pool of casual water hard by the tee. The traditional cloth cap performs both tasks as it becomes impregnated with water yet still blows off.
Perfectly attired we are then advised that trolleys of all description are banned and so we must carry our bag which at least allows us to jettison the battery of lob wedges our professional has so considerately sold us during the summer months, almost guaranteeing us crisp, precise approach shots that check, spin and fly in a manner that is entirely alien to the rest of our game.
In the event of the course being sodden the only way any of these will ever reach the flag is if we thin them, whilst when the ground is frozen tundra-hard anything that lands on the green will bounce 15’ into the air in the manner of the super balls many of us played with as children before flying, like a woodcock, dipping savagely before disappearing over the hedge at the back of the green.
Armed with our nine clubs we set off. At this stage many golfers who play in spectacles despair, utter a stifled oath, turn around and head for the bar and a decent single malt or a stalky red as the lenses steam up to such an extent that the wearer is utterly convinced that cataracts have suddenly developed in both eyes.
Spectacles may be removed but then the chill air causes eyes to run in the manner reminiscent of a streaming head cold and sight of the ball blurs to an extent that we have less than a one in four chance of connecting with anything more savagely than a glancing blow.
Those hardy souls who are determined to press on regardless will most certainly have attached an umbrella to their bag and many a chilled or soggy few minutes can be spent extricating the damn thing from the small Velcro loops before unfurling it.
It is usually at this point that the patron saint of bad weather, a catholic named Medard for those of an inquiring disposition, heads off and makes himself a cup of tea as a gust of mildly hurricane proportions blows up, forcing the umbrella inside out and snapping at least three of the ribs and one of the support struts. Just count how many shattered umbrellas there are in waste bins during your next winter round before agreeing that they are all but useless as protection against anything more than a light fall of dew.
At least no longer having to hold the umbrella means that we do not have to endure the sort of chill factor in one of our hands more commonly experienced by mountaineers shinning up some Tibetan peak the hard way.
And finally, for those truly heroic souls to whom Amundsen would have doffed his hat, and who reach the half way house there is a truly vile and boiling brew of Bovril and sherry awaiting guaranteeing mouth ulcers that will most certainly last until we next decide to sacrifice our reason on the altar of golf and head for the links in mid winter once again. Enjoy your round.
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