Confessions Of A Golf Hacker – On The Driving Range

English: Fairway wood positioned near golf ball
Photo credit: Wikipedia

I think I mentioned golf ranges last time. Why, you might ask, would you want to stand around on a golf range when you could be on the golf course itself?  Let’s put it another way: why would you want to be on a golf course when it’s freezing cold or pouring with rain or there’s a gale blowing or all three?

Golf ranges have four virtues:

  • They are under cover
  • You don’t have to move
  • You don’t spend time trying to find your ball
  • They are cheap

They do have some disadvantages, however.  I was visiting a range not a million miles from home in south Leeds and, for once, it was quite crowded.  I sneaked up to a bay on the left with my basket of balls. This range had an amusing mechanism where you pour your balls into a hole and they re-appear, one by one, on top of a fixed plastic tee.  As you while away the minutes hitting balls a little counter tells you how many you have hit… Fascinating.

On this particular occasion I had hit about 5 balls and if I remember rightly, three had whistled along the ground, one had taken a sharp turn to the right and one nearly resembled a golf shot. At this point a guy turns up in £100 trainers and occupies the bay immediately to my right. He then places a club behind his neck, wraps his arms around either end and starts stretching movements. This goes on for about five minutes and I have to say is a mite distracting. He then gets a driver* out and hits a ball into the far distance.

An acquaintance of his turns up and they start talking about his new driver. Apparently he only paid £250 for it and it should have been over £300. The trouble is, he continues, the second rate balls they provide on this range means you can barely hit them 200 yards… So that was my problem… my driver only cost £11.50 so, with a quick bit of mental maths, I worked out that I was doing well if I hit the ball 100 yards and that was before I factored in the cheap cost of my footwear…

On the whole I have to say I haven’t come across too many of these types since I started golf. I did have a bit of disapproval the other day. I was standing on the eighth tee at The Lion’s Lair determined not to send my ball into the river which runs all the way down the right hand side of the hole. So I hooked* a rather splendid drive about 160 yards right across the 4th fairway which runs parallel to the 8th but in the opposite direction. Unfortunately three senior chaps were at that very moment, progressing up the 4th. In time honoured fashion I shouted “Fore!”* but to be completely honest I’m not quite sure how close the ball got to them. Although I was wearing my glasses** I do find it quite hard to keep track of my ball. This is where Old Bob comes in useful as he is long sighted… Anyway,  I set off across the fourth fairway uttering my apologies to be greeted by a wall of silence…

Mind you, at another course I did something similar only for the other golfer to say, “No problem, we all have to learn at some stage.”

Have I told you about the time I lost 9 balls in eleven holes and ripped a brand new pair of trousers?  Next time, then…

** Not the pair I lost in the hedge…


Glossary of technical terms

Driver – Traditionally a wooden club but now metal with a fairly straight face which hits the ball furthest (in theory)… Professional golfers can hit the ball over 300 yards with a driver.  I can’t.

Hooked – A ball which a right handed golfer hits a long way left is said to have been ‘hooked’

Fore – The traditional shout if you hit your ball ‘off piste’ (as it were). “The mention of the term in an 1881 British Golf Museum indicates that the term was in use at least as early as that period. The term means “look ahead”, and it is believed to come from the military “beware before”, which an artilleryman about to fire would yell alerting nearby infantrymen to drop to the ground to avoid the shells overhead”. Thank you Wikipedia.