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 At the 19th

Electric dreamland
The author is forced to acknowledge the ravages of time when it comes to his golf even if he still rails against the idea of wearing spectacles

Although you won't realise this from where you are, I am actually writing my column without the assistance of glasses. This is not unremarkable, especiallywhen you take into account the fact that I don’t ever wear glasses. Not wearing glasses is one of the few things left that I’m able to brag about as I fast approach my 60th birthday. Not wearing a toupee is another. Reeling off those two in such quick succession leaves very little for me to gloat over in the rest of this piece, so readers already wearying of my conceit can relax.

As those who know me well will testify, it’s not vanity that stops me wearing glasses. Curiously, my crumpled face and what’s left of my looks might indeed be enhanced by a pair of spectacles. Glasses would certainly augment the air of gravitas that I am seeking to cultivate and would nicely complement the wavy grey hair that is missing from the very top but which I am letting grow elsewhere on my head in a concerted effort to convey creativity. However, I can’t deny that there is a modest financial benefit to be enjoyed from neither wearing glasses nor having my haircut regularly but that, you understand, is purely incidental and, in any case, is nowhere near enough to cover my green fees.

While part of the reason I don’t wear glasses is that I can more or less see reasonably well enough without them, the main reason is that I genuinely believe that ‘giving in’ to glasses will hasten the decline ofmy eyesight. The eye, after all, ismerely amuscle. Like every other muscle in the body, it needs exercise. The less exercise it takes, the lazier it will get.

Which bringsmemore or less seamlessly on towhat I believe is, apart from developing character, the principal benefit of playing our beloved game, viz. providing extremely valuable exercise. For me, one of the great consolations as I sit in the clubhouse and reflect on yet another disappointing round is the comforting thought that I will have burnt many hundreds of calories performing a rich variety of aerobic activities such as thrashing around in the rough, swiping away in the bunkers and walking to and fro across each green at least three times.

And then there’s lifting the flag out of the hole, stretching to retrieve a ball from a ditch, throwing the broken tee-peg away in disgust and pulling the trolley. Of the aforementioned, the activity that requires the greatest effort is pulling the trolley and this is the one that I have now reluctantly had to abandon. Ten years ago it was sciatica that compelled me to give up carrying my bag and invest in a trolley and it’s a related problemthat has now obliged me to go electric.

What hurts almost as much as my lower back is accepting that I amno longer a finely tuned athlete and that age has taken its toll. Curiously, I have had an electric trolley for almost five years. I won it in the most dramatic circumstances by racking up 33 stableford points on a drizzle-lashed Scottish links. Tremendous mental strength, sheer determination and regular swigs from a hip flask saw me home on that occasion.

Given the paucity of prizes that have passed my way during a generally unproductive golf career, I wasn’t about to decline this one on the grounds that I was too young to use it. And so it sat in the attic alongside my Georgie Fame record albums until a stroppy council tax demand moved me to bring it downstairs and photograph it in its box out on the front lawn. Used though she is to my occasionally eccentric behaviour, my wife nevertheless felt compelled to ask what on earth I was doing. “It’s going on eBay,” I explained. “You won’t get much for a brown box,” she quipped and then, on learning that there was an electric trolley inside, urged me to use it myself.

My concerns that I would thereby be enlarging my carbon footprint were countered by her astute observation that the energy saved by not having to visit the osteopath so frequently would more than offset any expended by my electric trolley. Anyway, that explains how ‘Georgie Fame’s Greatest Hits’ and nine other of his albums ended up on eBay and I, after swallowingmy pride, came to be followingmy electric trolley around The Nevil course at Tunbridge Wells. Although I struggled with it at first, forgetting that it had to go out in front rather than be pulled from behind, I soon got the hang of it and was heartened that there is at least some aspect of my golf that’s improving.

In case you’re interested, my partner and I comprehensively crushed our hapless opponents by 5&4, which makes me wonder how much more success I might have enjoyed if only I had gone electric at around the same time Georgie Fame teamed up with Van Morrison and released a number of great records that I no longer have.

September 2008

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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