The master of the golf club

Isis Town and Country - - Sport - By PAUL MCCAR­RAGHER

A GAME that elic­its more con­tro­versy than any other game – from play­ers and those who can’t see the sense in chas­ing a lit­tle white ball around spoil­ing a good walk.

For those who haven’t played the game, it must seem like folly to hit a ball, then fol­low it un­til you find it, then hit it away again un­til you fi­nally get it in the cup.

To many golfers this is also a mys­tery but they keep com­ing back to it week af­ter week in the hope that some sense will come of it.

Then we see the pho­tos of golfers in their golf­ing clothes and won­der why any sane per­son would wear such out­landish gear and be seen in pub­lic – gar­ish check-pat­terned trousers or a tar­tan to match their an­ces­try, usu­ally a non-match­ing shirt and a cap that went out of style over a cen­tury ago.

Then there are the socks with a dis­sim­i­lar checked pat­tern to the trousers, with black or white shoes or black and white shoes, or vice versa, and all worn with an air of su­pe­ri­or­ity over the com­mon folk as they drive down the fair­ways, some­times, in their carts mak­ing a lie of the ex­cuse “I do it for the ex­er­cise”.

Then there are the clubs – 14 de­vices of tor­ment for most golfers and to the non-golfer just a bag full of ex­pen­sive toad launch­ers.

Let’s take the driver, one of the most used and abused clubs in the bag and the cause of more foul lan­guage than any other item in any­one’s pos­ses­sion.

When used cor­rectly it’s a thing of joy, with its praises sung from rooftops.

But in the hands of most week­end play­ers, it’s an in­stru­ment of tor­ture, and the ball whizzes into places no man or woman was even meant to en­ter.

On one hole it will be­have as though an ex­ten­sion of one’s mind’s eye vi­su­al­i­sa­tion of where the ball should go, only to on the next hole be­come a les­son in frus­tra­tion and emo­tions that bor­der on the homi­ci­dal or sui­ci­dal.

The three and five woods are not in the same league as the driver but can equally cause mut­ter­ing un­der the breath that most golf­ing part­ners know is not a good time to com­ment on the shot, even in jest.

The irons, ahhh, the irons ... a mix­ture of lofted clubs de­signed by sadists to slice, shank, dig trenches that could be used to lay ca­bles, hit the head off the ball, caus­ing it to trickle a few yards, be­fore once again we are called upon to use an­other iron that can a do the same thing over and over as the blood pres­sure rises and the good hu­mour that started the game evap­o­rates like fog.

And this brings us to the put­ter.

In the hands of a pro­fes­sional, a thing of beauty that pro­pels the ball into the cup with con­sum­mate ease, whilst in the hands of the week­end player causes the ball to lip the hole, stop short, go me­tres past the hole or go off in tan­gents that defy logic – any­where but where it’s sup­posed to end up, in the cup.

I be­lieve that there are more put­ters in garages of golfers col­lect­ing dust as they try in vain to achieve that meld­ing of man and club for the per­fect putt by buy­ing big­ger, more ex­pen­sive and bet­ter put­ters, know­ing in the back of their minds that this will also end in mis­ery.

It’s only af­ter the game that the real phe­nom­ena of golf takes place as the play­ers con­gre­gate in the 19th hole and re­gale each other of the shot that went 250m, the iron shot that landed on the green and stopped within easy putting dis­tance, or the putt that went in on the first try.

They joke about the shots that hit trees, went across roads, ended up in peo­ple’s back­yards or were lost for­ever in the jun­gles of the rough or the divot (hole) dug that took a whole bucket of sand to fill, with nary an un­kind word or a sense of frus­tra­tion that the game some­how got the bet­ter of them.

Then plans are made to meet next week to have an­other go.

You see, it’s not about mas­ter­ing the var­i­ous clubs, it’s not about hit­ting that per­fect shot time and time again, but it’s about the com­rade­ship – the fact that you aren’t play­ing the course or your fel­low play­ers but about play­ing against your­self and believ­ing that one day you too will see the ball fly to ex­actly where you wanted it, the iron shot will land within a foot of the hole and the putt will make that ever-so-sat­is­fy­ing noise as it tum­bles into the cup on the first try.

To those who play the game, it’s sim­ple. To those who don’t, come on down and give it a try, no one will laugh at you with de­ri­sion – peo­ple will ac­tu­ally give you tips to im­prove your game and those same peo­ple will re­mem­ber that shot that you made that was ter­rific and will prob­a­bly bring you back next time.

Next week tips on stance, hold­ing and us­ing that all-im­por­tant club, the driver.

PHOTO: JODIE DIXON

ON THE GREEN: Wel­come to the Isis Golf Club.

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