Valentine’s Day is a silly affair. The trouble that many go through on this “lover’s” day, if you look at it dispassionately, does go to extremes.
Come to think of it, the same thing can be said about golf.
Golf, just like love, can increase the heart rate, ruin composure, spoil the appetite for food, blister the hands, play havoc on the nervous system, make grown men (and sometimes women) to cry like little tots, cause ulcers of the stomach, leave one tongue-tied and lead to bankruptcy.
Done properly however, golf and love don’t have to have such adverse effects.
Love and golf are suitable for all. The fit and the unfit, the religious and the atheist, the octogenarian and the young lad can all find enjoyment on the golf course.
Unlike Scotch, the other popular product from the highlands of Scotland, too much golf is not injurious to the health. If anything, golf cures anxiety and is a neutralising agent for stress. On the golf course, companionship with fellow golfers is not always guaranteed.
Even though majority of golfers have good etiquette, once in a while it is not uncommon to find yourself in the company of golfers who are rough around the edges.
There are those that will perform dismally in social intercourse and have very little courtesy or honesty if any.
One of the little idiosyncrasies of the golfers with poor etiquette is the thought that the world would stop if they were not reachable for even one minute.
They always have to have their mobile phones on their person.
TALKING ON THE PHONE
I would understand when an obstetrician carries his phone to the golf course; but what matter of life and death would a teacher or an accountant require a phone for?
Talking on the phone is not only discourteous, it also slows down the pace of play. It does not make it better when one hides in a bush to talk on the phone.
It is unbecoming of golfers to keep others waiting to talk on the phone.
And no! a perfunctory apology for the delay does not give absolution for the sin.
The other faux pas on our golf courses is cheating. I used to get what I thought were weird comments when discussing Rules of Golf especially with golfers who are fond of betting.
I was once discussing with a golfer on the procedure for taking free relief from Ground Under Repair (GUR).
For him, the irreducible minimum is that the position of a ball being picked from the GUR must be marked. I pointed out to him that whereas it is good practice, the player is not required to mark its position.
The Rules state that a ball to be replaced must be marked but since the ball picked from the GUR is not going to be replaced in the same position, there is no requirement for marking its position.
“How will I know where the ball lay if he does not mark its position?” was his reaction. “He will tell you where it lay” was my answer. “What if he’s not honest?” he retorted.
“What kind of people are you playing with?” I wondered.
This is something that I am hearing more and more nowadays. When I first heard the question, I naturally assumed that it was a misinterpretation of the Rules of Golf. I am now beginning to realise that some people are lying to either win bets or tournaments.
The level of distrust in certain groups of golfers is appalling. I’d hate to suspect anyone of cheating in golf. Sadly, that is what it has come to.
Unfortunately, the practice of flagrant violation of the limit of the value of prizes in amateur tournaments is rearing its ugly head again.
The fact that a prize must not exceed £500 in retail value is being ignored.
This has the effect of encouraging cheats as a few rotten golfers use the opportunity to try and win.
A story is told of the great Bobby Jones that illustrates the true nature of the spirit of golf.
He was making a stroke in a bush. No one followed him into the bush and all people saw was the ball emerge from the bush. When he finished the hole, he declared a penalty stroke.
Bobby Jones was astonished when some people suggested that it did not really matter.
The fact that no one saw him accidentally move the ball in the bush meant that he could get away with it. Bobby Jones looked at them like they were a soiled diaper.
How could he not have declared the infringement? To him, there was no other way to play the game.
Not declaring a penalty that he incurred was unimaginable. To him it was tantamount to trying to cheat himself.
Golf etiquette and integrity, just like love, should be practiced every day of the year.
They should not come once a year when we think that everyone is watching.