GOLF IS GOOD: AN­DREW DADDO

Golf Australia - - FRONT PAGE - 130 | EX­CLU­SIVE B Y AN­DREW DADDO | GOLF AUS­TRALIA C OLUMNIST

HOW do you know it’s been too long be­tween golf games?

Easy. There’s a cal­ci­fied rat in your golf bag. That same rat prob­a­bly starved to death af­ter work­ing its way through half your golf towel and all of your gloves.

This hap­pened to the same bloke who, when he fi­nally did play, marked his ball with an empty sleeve of Voltarin. It’s his back, you see. The same bloke who found a pack of Marl­boro Lights and some matches in his golf bag, but he can’t re­mem­ber the last time he ac­tu­ally smoked. “Must have been on a golf course,” he ven­tured. “Prob­a­bly with you mo­rons.”

For years, but not in years, three or four of us used to get to­gether for a few days away. We called it Mr Mul­loway and bought a tro­phy to play for. It was a com­bi­na­tion of golf­ing, fish­ing, cards and drink­ing; the sort of stuff that might end up in a Paul Kelly song. Only, in­stead of be­ing melan­choly, it’s as much a celebration of what we used to be, as it is about what we’ve be­come. Some­how we all man­aged to find the same hole in our sched­ules for two whole nights away. It felt like a miracle, like try­ing to or­gan­ise your best friends for a din­ner a month away. Then it was a mat­ter of where. What would be the best place for freshly-minted 50-year-olds to swap lies and cast in­sults to get them through the next long, matey hia­tus?

I thought Barn­bougle would be good. Or Ade­laide and those Four Reds. But the bloke with the wonky back and towel-eat­ing rat had other ideas. He’s a part-time farmer now, “best we go there,” he mused. “It’s close to pretty much ev­ery­thing, but far enough away to be near noth­ing.” And then. “Wait ‘til you see it, Daddster. You’ll fig­ure out ex­actly what’s pos­si­ble as soon as we drive through the gate.”

I fully ex­pected to walk his pad­dock in gum boots, pos­si­bly with some kind of weapon, or at the very least a 7-iron. We’d stake out a course, I thought. Like Nor­man or Clay­ton, I’d point to folds in the land and sug­gest bunkers and greens. Holes would present them­selves from the nat­u­ral ebb and flow in the land. It’d be a sim­ple case of mow­ing the mid­dle and dig­ging the bunkers.

Some­how, our few days of the lads catch­ing up, would be­come an odyssey. We were on the precipice of a new golf course in golf cours­ing land. Bah to Barn­bougle. King Is­land what? We were about to cre­ate Mul­loway, what a name for a course, I thought. What a ring it has. “You played Mul­loway?”

“Whatcha doin’ this week­end? Yeah? Re­ally? Hav­ing din­ner with the Queen? Sounds good, but I’m play­ing Mul­loway! I know, sucks to be me.”

Of course, I didn’t say any of this be­cause it sounds like lu­nacy, but why else would he say I’d fig­ure out ex­actly what was pos­si­ble? He knows I’m a busted golf­ing unit. He knows I mowed a tee and a green into my back­yard even though it’s only ten me­tres wide. For sure he’s aware of the call­ing.

Turns out he wasn’t.

His pad­dock was per­fect for preg­nant sheep we weren’t al­lowed to look at in case we scared the lambs out of them. It was flat and cleared and pos­si­bly not the rolling thun­der I might have cre­ated in my mind. So that dream dis­ap­peared pretty quickly. But his place isn’t far from 13th Beach on Vi­cro­ria’s Bel­lar­ine Penin­sula, a sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter, well-trod­den golf­ing op­tion. I had been there once, not long af­ter it first opened and was in­stantly struck by how good time had been to the place. Both cour­ses were beau­ti­ful. From tee to green we were lit­er­ally out of ex­cuses.

The same couldn’t re­ally be said for us. A sorry se­ries of stretches was a lame at­tempt at a warm-up, and even that was punc­tu­ated with hag­gling over hand­i­caps.

De­spite the set­ting, and per­fect weather, the golf was never re­ally about golf. I mean, it was bril­liant to play and be chal­lenged at ev­ery turn. But rare mo­ments with true best mates are about sur­viv­ing the sledg­ing and be­ing able to get bat to ball. It’s about be­ing re­minded of a five putt on the 16th at Metro, the “long march” at Hori­zons or hav­ing to see the Rus­sian “Reload­ski” af­ter bunting an­other ball into the boon­dah.

It was a good re­minder that of­ten the best golf of­fers us, is time to­gether. Yes, good shots are great, but they’re bet­ter with a bit of history be­hind them.

WE’D STAKE OUT A COURSE, I THOUGHT. LIKE NOR­MAN OR CLAY­TON, I’D POINT TO FOLDS IN THE LAND AND SUG­GEST BUNKERS AND GREENS.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.