Having dealt with the dark side of the sport, the obvious destination now is its multiple shades of grey. Golfers, as industry leaders, have heard all sorts of excuses for poor performance. And, while roaming around beautiful parts of the country in their various types of buggy, they put that knowledge to good use formulating ever more innovative excuses for their golfing.
These start before a ball is struck. You all get up at dawn, make apologies to the ‘Boss’ for waking them up, and make your way to the course — and then you discover your four-ball has become a three. The best excuse for dropping out last-minute so far being: “I can’t play as I was attacked by next door’s cat last night.” To be fair, the following week this was evidenced by 16 stitches — it turns out removing a roaming feline from your house is actually not something to do barehanded and in shorts.
Then there are the late-arrival excuses: MOTs wife arrived back last week and this week his brand new car developed tyre inflation issues. Coincidence???
Not to forget the equipment excuses: These are legion and deserve a write up of their own.
On arrival, you will hear the weather excuses — amazing in this part of the world — “Humidity affects my grip” “Too hot”, “Too windy”, and even — from time to time — “The rain ruined my game plan!”
Health and general fitness excuses then come to the fore: especially rampant with playing partners Eshop, MOT and Kirby, as they are no spring chickens. “My (deleted as appropriate) back ... shoulders ... knees ... hands.” The list goes on to incused ailments such as medical arthritis, but Kirby’s “My diabetes affects the speed of my backswing” is probably the hardest hitting and, frustratingly, impossible to argue with.
Then, you get your coffee, finish on the driving range and the classic course excuses emerge, where golfers come into their own: “It’s playing too long ... short ... wide ... narrow”. We hear complaints about too-long grass, fairways being too wet or hard, the sand(?) being too hard, the course is overwatered. The best yet is: “Some joker lined the tee-boxes up to make me hit it into the trees.” Imagination is an endless source of justification.
However, there is no doubt in the seasoned golfer’s mind that the moment of truth is the first tee. Dreams of a personal best and hope in general crash as they top their first drive, hit the cart path (but luckily clear the ladies’ tee — a critical aspect). This rouses either “I need lessons” or “I am having lessons and the highly paid, youthful provider has messed with my previously world class, metronomic swing”. What to name this brand of excuse? Denial?
On course, we obviously have distractions that Rory et al don’t face: passing seaplanes, wandering springbok and even residents pushing prams or walking dogs, smiling benignly at you as you drive a hard ball, via the cart path, at 160kph towards them. These are the ever -handy circumstantial excuses.
Finally, the 19th hole is the zenith of expertise in artful deception and excuse making. Each art has its masters — in our case, Ts who, despite not picking up a bill in 12 months, has paid twice that in speeding fines getting away from whichever venue we were at, a venue-leaving skill obviously perfected as an Arsenal supporter.