HI­LAR­I­OUS, ac­tu­ally. Like, there are mo­ments when it’s turned me in­side out and had me ready to wet my pants with myrrh and then, there’re those other days.

Where some days are gifts, and oth­ers you just want to gift the game away, and after nearly 40 years at the rub­ber end of the club, a light may have dawned. We are pas­sen­gers in this game, it’s as much about us as the forces around us.

And oh, ho ho, that’s what makes golf so bloody funny.

Put it this way. I had been look­ing for­ward to a game booked six months prior at Links Kennedy Bay, south of Perth. It’s a brute of a course, but it’s also a beauty. True links, as the name sug­gests, awk­ward, al­most rude pot bunkers scat­tered through­out the course and 17 of the 18 greens are raised. It’s prop­erly hard. The scene was set for a re­match with an old foe who hits it looooong and straight. I’d de­cided to hit it longer and straighter. Apart from any­thing else, it’s what the course re­quires. So, Chris­tian, my new­found neme­sis starts off long, and not too straight. I start with straight, but not ter­ri­bly long. He had to get straighter, I had to get longer.

As he achieved his goal, I be­gan to fail: The longer I tried to hit it, the wider it started to go. The worse I got, the bet­ter he be­came, some­thing he got fairly jolly about. And as much as my bad play con­trib­uted to the flog­ging, it was clear Chris­tian beat me be­tween the ears.

As it turned out, the en­tire field did, too … 96 strokes in the Wed­nes­day stroke round from the white tees, which were up the front. Move for­ward 10 whole days to Long Reef on Syd­ney’s North­ern Beaches. Like Kennedy Bay, it’s links golf, but not quite as hard. But still, many have walked off this bluff jut­ting into the Pa­cific lit­er­ally unhinged.

I’ve turned up for the Satur­day comp to play with ran­dom part­ners and an open mind. It’s not a grudge fest, there’s been no months of plan­ning and hon­ing a stinger or a zinger or a Ru­dolf (the shot that’s so bloody good it lights you up). It was just a mat­ter of play­ing golf with mem­bers; an af­ter­noon game, which I gen­er­ally avoid be­cause that’s gen­er­ally when the wind gets up. In the group was Adam, a new Longie mem­ber. Ta­nia, who I’ve played with be­fore and is man­ag­ing her down­ward slide from five with aplomb, and Mike the metronome. Funny game!

I should have videoed Mike’s swing and shared it with you as a Chrissy gift. He was so peace­ful and calm. In fact, it’s ex­actly how we’d prob­a­bly like to have our Christ­mases, not the har­ried, stressed, ‘boy, oh boy, isn’t this fun? Why am I drink­ing at nine o’clock in the morn­ing?’

On the 1st tee, I ac­tu­ally thought he was tak­ing the piss. He was so smooth and me­thod­i­cal it didn’t seem real. His putting was like his chip­ping which was like his driv­ing which mir­rored his bunker play. Ev­ery­thing was so con­sid­ered and care­ful and had such beau­ti­ful tempo.

Ta­nia no­ticed it first. She said, ‘Oh, my Lord. Have you no­ticed his tempo? How does he do that?’ To which I said, ‘Prozac.’ And we laughed like five-year-olds be­hind our hands be­cause it felt kind of mean in a good way. But later, after he’d been hit­ting darts for six holes, we re­grouped and re­alised he did look and sound like he was on beta-block­ers. I put that to him and he smirked, say­ing lots of peo­ple thought that. “But no, it’s just swing easy, you know?” Be­cause we’d been tak­ing so much no­tice of Mike, we hadn’t re­ally been think­ing too much about our own games. I hadn’t, any­way. But he was in­fec­tious, with­out re­al­is­ing, I’d started try­ing to swing like Mike. Wait­ing just a frac­tion longer at the top, be­ing a lit­tle smoother through the ball, a lit­tle cooler in the be­rat­ing of bad shots. It was amaz­ing. Ten days prior, I’d tried to beat the ball and my op­po­nent into obliv­ion, only to be de­stroyed. On this day, at Long Reef, sim­ply try­ing to groove the ball around the course like Mike re­sulted in the great­est game of my life.

True anx­i­ety ar­rived on the 18th tee when Adam asked if I knew my score. I told him if he told me I would punch his face in, and so the world re­turned to its nor­mal axis.

It was epic, we all won at least one ball in the comp!

Sea­son’s greet­ings, may some­one bring you a metronome.


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