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 At the 19th

Making good your escape
You deserve a golf holiday – you know you do, even if your family fail to see the obvious. The really tricky part is figuring out with whom, and how many, you should take your vacation

Basically, there are two types of holiday. There are those where you sit on the beach watching the tide go in and out, fretting about the spiralling cost of sun bloc and beating off T-shirt salesmen. And then there are golf holidays where you have a wonderful time, love every minute and go for several days without once mentioning the deepening recession, global warming or Ed Miliband.

Unfortunately, because most of us are stuck in non-golfing families, have spouses who think a rescue club is something to do with the AA and children who scream abuse when they spot you sneaking out with a golf bag over your shoulder, golf holidays are as infrequent as holed bunker shots. But they can be arranged and the effort is certainly worth it.

Now that the autumnal equinox has passed and the unappealing prospect of tee mats and temporary greens looms large on the horizon, after you have read all the thought provoking pieces at the beginning of this magazine, you will inevitably turn to the travel section at the back and drool over the luscious vistas, towering palms, verdant fairways and challenging par-threes over foaming surf to an inviting island that would surely succumb to a flushed 2-iron with a hint of draw. For most golfers these appealing pages offer a seductive mix of pure escapism and acceptable pornography.

Persuading loved ones that you need a break but taking them with you would defeat the object is a difficult and delicate task. As with most of the important issues in life, there are two schools of thought as to how to go about it. The conventional wisdom is that you need to build up an enormous credit balance by washing up for several months, buying flowers at least once a week and not watching the golf on Sky but instead smiling indulgently through every dull soap, rubbish reality show and tedious property programme.

The alternative strategy for the more modern man is to make yourself as unpleasant and as difficult as possible by refusing to do any domestic chores, bringing home cases of lager at least once a week and watching every televised golf tournament including the two-hour highlight packages of Europro Tour events where the players comfortably outnumber spectators and only the elite can afford trolleys. Although my natural inclination is towards the latter, it matters little which of the two approaches you choose. The important thing is to stick to your game plan and never weaken or waiver. You will know things are moving your way when the family start muttering behind your back. Depending on which tactic you have adopted, you will hear words such as ‘saint’, ‘angel’ and ‘hero’ or, alternatively, ‘b******d’, ‘a***-h***’ and ‘w****r’. Either way, your family will eventually urge you to go away for a few days.

Thanks to the selfless dedication of a brave band of travel experts prepared to tackle the greatest courses and warmest resorts, this magazine provides all the information you need to pick a suitable destination. Frankly, you can’t go wrong as they are all immeasurably preferable to home.

The next delicate issue is who to invite on your trip. Two people is a tricky number, partly because if you go with someone of the same sex everyone will talk about yoiur sexuality. Then there is the danger that if you fall out over, say, the vexed issue of relief from a sprinkler head, the incident will sour the whole trip.

Since it’s not a number that readily lends itself to any sensible golfing format, three is also tricky. The only real advantage in three is that you can occupy a row of seats in an aeroplane but an argument over who sits in the middle can get your holiday off to the worst possible start.

Four is unquestionably the best number. Three alternative pairings means that over the course of a week you can play each other twice, thus giving everyone the chance of redemption. Any multiple of four is good but anything over 12 is, in my experience, unwieldy.

OK, so who do you invite?

Human beings in general and golfers especially are much more concerned about who they don’t like and don’t enjoy playing with than they are with getting on with one another. So, although Mr A is friends with Mr B, he really doesn’t care for Mr C because he plays so slowly. Mr B gets on OK with Mr A and Mr C but, since he declined to concede him a two-foot putt on the 18th that he subsequently missed to lose a match nine years ago, avoids Mr D. And so on. If you’re a member of a club, all the members you don’t invite will never forgive you, thereby scuppering any lingering ambitions you might have harboured of one day assuming the captaincy.

So, is it worth falling out with your family and alienating most of your friends just for the sake of a few rounds of golf in the sun? You bet it is!

September 2011

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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