Golf’s magic moments for Average Joe

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Well, the world didn’t end on Friday which means us golfers – not the pros you understand, but the vast multitude of amateur hackers that make up the overwhelming majority of the people who play the game – can carry on slicing drives into the bush, hitting balls that cost R30 each into water hazards, and three-putting.

What is it about golf that draws us down to the course like magnets every week? To a non-golfer our behaviour may seem ridiculous, and understandably so. We fork out thousands of rand on high-tech clubs, as well as gloves, bags, golf shoes and (especially with the ladies) fashionable outfits. And more often than not green fees for an 18-hole game can set you back a couple of hundred bucks.

This is a lot of money to spend especially when we spend five hours trudging 7km trying to hit a little white ball into a little hole, with all sorts of obstacles preventing us from doing so. We complain about how slow the group in front are, and berate ourselves for playing poorly. Quite often this makes us (and “us” here could be anything from doctors to dominees) utter words that wouldn’t dare be used in consulting rooms or kerke.

I occasionally play golf with a television cameraman, a lovely guy with a great sense of humour. But he can’t contain himself when he hits a bad shot. Children who know him call him Mr F.

For me, and I suppose for most of us, part of the joy of golf is spending a morning or afternoon out in the open air in the company of two or three other individuals. No matter how off-form you may be, at least you can enjoy the banter.

But perhaps the biggest attraction about golf is that all of us, even the 24-handicappers, will hit at least one good shot during a round.

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings at my club a group of not-so-young enthusiasts of the game gather at about 7am, our names are put in a hat for the draw and off we go. My partner this week was Jock, a Scot and a real character who – in spite of being in his 70s – still plays a decent game.

We had a good first nine before struggling for the next few holes.

Then, on one of the tough par-4s, Jock punched a beautiful little shot from about 70 metres out and watched in admiration as his ball bounced up onto the green and headed straight for the flagstick, stopping a tantalising two feet short of the cup to set up a par and four very welcome Stableford points because he double-stroked.

“Great shot!” I cried, in appreciation of him executing a stroke McIlroy would have been more than happy with. The smiling old Scot was clearly tickled pink with his effort, but nonchalantly dismissed his little touch of genius as if this happened to him all the time: “Thanks, but I have played this game before, you know ...”

That’s the beauty of golf. Unlike in top level rugby or soccer or cricket or athletics, where the majority of us have no hope of competing with the best, on any given day on the golf course we are all capable of hitting that one shot just like a pro does.

Yes, we’re all probably going to have our fair share of double-bogeys in 2013 – now that next year seems like it’s going to happen – but from time to time there’ll be that glorious moment when the ball does what we want it to do and we’ll feel like Louis, or Charl, or Ernie. – Saturday Star


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