Is there something in your life that you dip into, and out of, over the years? Like embroidery, or jigsaw-puzzle puzzling? Or an attempt to learn a foreign language?
I’ve had bursts of golfing enthusiasm at different times in my 58 years. And over the last couple of months, it’s been a veritable feast of hooked drives, double bogies and missed short putts after years of swinging famine.
I’ve been lucky enough to play locally in Surrey, with my brother (club captain in 2014) and nephews at the beautiful Hankley Common GC , and at our local West Surrey course with neighbour Steve. In the USA with old friend Michael Warren at Richter Park in Connecticut. And, most spectacularly, at Bermuda’s coast-hugging Mid Ocean Club with friend and MOC member Phil Barnes. And, just last week, with all the Anderson boys at the somewhat unloved Kent & Surrey Club at Edenbridge in rural Kent.
We’ve watched frankly unhealthy amounts of the game on TV, especially the closing stages of the golfing Majors, staying up late to see the epic closing rounds of the Masters and US Open, and the unscheduled Monday finish to this year’s Open at soggy St. Andrews.
And just last week, I wandered up the road to the practice day of the Senior Open at glorious and historic Sunningdale, getting up close and personal with the game’s legends, and enjoying a free lesson from the R&A coaching gurus.
A veritable golfing overdose, after years of cold turkey away from the game.
And what have I learnt?
That golf is a metaphor for life.
One day you can play a single stroke, or hole or – if the game’s gods are smiling on you – a back nine almost as well as a professional. Or way better than your handicap, anyway. But mostly, you’re likely to blow a decent round with a bad drive, a triple bogey and a mindset that means you’ll lurch from crisis to crisis after that single error.
In life, you’ll think you’re on a roll after passing an exam, or getting lucky with that nurse you always fancied in A&E. Or finding a pound coin left in the gym locker.
But then…..BANG. The door of optimism will be slammed in your face, as surely as Tiger Woods will – allegedly – whip out his fairway wood at the first sight of a blonde cocktail waitress.
You’ll fail your physics paper by 1 mark; the nurse will dump you in favour of a single handicapper; the gym sub will be increased by £10 a month.
You’re a flick of a sand wedge and a single putt away from a birdie, but moments later you’ve under-clubbed, taking 3 to get out of a steep bunker and the birdie has slipped from your grasp as quickly as Europe have snatched victory from the jaws of a Ryder Cup defeat.
Call me pessimistic, but life in the long run is more likely to be a 3 putt rather than a chip-in from off the green.
Although there’s always been the ring of truth in Gary Player’s well-worn quotation: “the more I practice, the luckier I get.”
Time to hit the driving range, then. Until a new jigsaw puzzle distracts me. Or the next Italian lesson.