One of the benefits of being at home since I’ve finished University is the ability to get out and play golf.
Obviously it’s nice to be able to see family, friends and do other stuff that I’ve missed out on, even if that’s a mere delayed train and inevitable replacement bus replacement service away.
Golf is one of the guilty pleasures that I’ve always enjoyed playing, but it’s plagued by people who think that it’s ‘boring’ or ‘just for old men’.
Certainly it’s a bit of a rich bloke’s game, with courses close to me charging about £40 or £50 for a round – something that works about to about £2 or more per hole, and then the price of clubs on top of that.
But there’s something about it that’s really relaxing, enjoyable and really personal that pushes you to playing better and better.
Rory McIlroy’s recent Open cruise is a perfect way to help explain it. The mid-twenties Northern Ireland golfer stayed at the top of the leaderboard for all four days of the event. That was completely down to him, with no team members to fall on for playing poorly, or otherwise to blame.
That lone wolf approach to golf is something that serves up plenty of debate. Some people get a real kick out of playing on their own, enjoying the countryside and being alone with their thoughts.
Others, like me, prefer the opposite. Sure golf is all about how good you are individually, but where’s the fun in hitting a great shot with no one to see it? I like being able to catch up with friends or spend time with family, and four hours in the rolling green countryside with a bag of metal sticks and some balls.
When I was younger I used to spend a lot more time at the local course because there were people my age there, all learning at a similar speed, which made someone as competitive as I am feel right at home.
There were often plenty of tournaments on and I would play with complete strangers, the majority of whom were great people that I never would have spoken to otherwise. Of course there were arseholes too, but at a golf course between retirement towns right next to the sea, it can only be expected.
The one thing I picked up on when playing golf recently were the four gents who had just played a round and were sat together in the bar. One was recapping the story of a shot he had hit on one of his best holes.
The funniest part? Nobody was really paying attention – they were all waiting for him to finish so that they could jump in with their own story about their highlight reel of the day.
Sure, it’s pretty dull to watch on TV and the majority of people who see that don’t give it a chance as it’s fairly expensive to get into. If you’re not so sure, head down to the driving range with a friend who does play.
They’ll get a laugh out of you trying your hardest to hit the ball as hard as you possibly can (something everyone does when they first get started) but deep down, hoping that you enjoy it so that they’ve got somebody new to play golf with next weekend.