Stableford golf can be an enjoyable way for golfers of all levels to compete - if you get the rules
Friends can be a help or a hindrance to beginners on the golf course Image Credit: Shutterstock

Imagine this: you’re ready for tee-off, got all the gear and very little idea, and the ‘Boss’ has given a pass from home for a limited number of hours (she was told four for a round but allows five as “you’re useless”).

Now all you need are ‘starter’ friends. By this I mean: people who are known to you, have training in modern methods of mental support and guidance, people who care about you and are there for you. Namely, the type who would never, ever dream of telling you the truth in case it brought back some workplace issue that you had yet to go through with your analyst. They tend to be democrats.

And I thought I had a few: Yarmy, of course, Maple, Trots, and Puddles. To their eternal credit, they took an absolute beginner under their wing and, for at least four holes, not a comment was made. Then, it began … “My wife hits it further than that.” — which in the case of Puddles was true. “Kick it — it’s easier”, “How much were those clubs?”, “Get a refund — hardly used!” and the final one “Just pick it up or we’ll be here all day!”

It’s all character-building apparently.

You learn a lot about people when playing golf with them: their appetite for risk, their national traits, their ethics, how many hours they take off work and also how they are with their wives. It’s amazing how this can be gleaned from four or five hours on a course — let me clarify …

Let’s take Maple, so named as he thinks he’s the best thing to come out of Canada (and he might be right). Who´d think that in such a large country they build such short courses? He advises major corporations on strategy, thank goodness he steers away from financials as even before a hole is played Maple has a sure max four.

Puddles was a captain of industry, a regional behemoth in his field. But, the truth is, he played with us to avoid regular on-course thumpings from his wife. It’s in his head now and between cigarettes he constantly mutters: “What would she do from here?” It’s sad to have witnessed the slow demise of a regional great. Trots struggles with his life choices. He could have identified as Welsh, he had the ancestry, but he chose to be English. Now, something like that can, and has, had an effect. His Napoleon syndrome doesn’t help. He is bitter when it comes to sport and has become angry at himself over the years — to the extent that in one violent outburst he walked off with my ball as I, in his mind, was taking too long to play the hole. Not long after, he decided in all meaningful ways to leave the group and try and better himself on his own. He now plays Els and his scores would seem to have improved, but the sense of joy he had in the game playing with us is surely lost.

In the end, despite Yarmy’s best efforts, Maple having medical issues, Puddles leaving the country, and Trots being happier playing with himself, and myself having learnt all I could to progress my golf, I had to seek new fairways …

NB: No friendships were harmed — to date — in the telling of these stories