In the throes of a global pandemic, golf has never been more enjoyable.
Throughout my playing career, social golf was something I hardly ever entertained. If I had a bit of time off between tournaments, the last thing I wanted to do was go out for 18 holes. After being an occupation for so long, golf had become just that: a job. Don’t get me wrong, if I was on an extended break, the clubs weren’t put away for too long without getting the itch to go and hit a few, but rarely would I rock up on a week off to play holes for fun. All that’s changed now, though. Playing fewer and fewer competitive events during the past few years has rekindled my love for the game again and, more recently with Covid-19 completely taking it away for a while, golf has never been more enjoyable.
With a Ping carry-bag and half-set in tow, I’ve rediscovered the joy of golf from my youth. Toting fewer clubs around not only lightens the bag, it promotes creativity and makes golf more an art than science. Rarely do I laser a shot anymore and find it’s only needed to measure a distance when a flagstick’s taller or shorter in length than the norm*. Playing by eye is something I highly recommend anyway, especially to the younger generation who rely on yardages too much, because in less than perfect weather, feel becomes your gauge for distance, not the number you have left. I’ve even thrown my childhood persimmon driver in the bag a few times to spice things up. Now I know why accuracy, rather than distance, was a focus growing up. Mis-hitting that club has resulted in quick duck hooks and carved heel cuts that would make even a high handicapper shudder. Still, it’s been a blast revisiting that period in golf.
My social rounds are still competitive for there’s usually a little action on the side, typically a glass of red or similar, and that’s where this great game has no equal in my opinion. The handicap system allows me to play against anyone of any skill level, something impossible in just about every other sport. What’s fascinating is how often the result comes down to the last hole, and if someone does get the better of me, well, handicaps are duly revised for the rematch, that’s for certain.
Living in Melbourne, the mecca of Australian golf, probably hasn’t hurt the enjoyment factor either. Within an hour’s drive are some of the great courses in the country… and the world for that matter. Lately, I’ve navigated my way around a variety of Sandbelt masterpieces and coastal gems in the region. A recent visit to Flinders Golf Club with a couple of friends was an amazing experience. Surrounded by stunning views, it was a quirky, enjoyable layout in superb condition. Golf-wise it doesn’t get much better and led me to start writing a list of courses around Melbourne and further out that I eventually want to play. So, if you happen to see a lefty with a funky waggle on your local links, it’s probably me.
*Note: different height flagsticks create an optical illusion of being farther away (for a shorter flagstick), or nearer (for a taller one) than they actually are.