An occasional series of articles by someone in south Leeds who took up golf with considerably more enthusiasm than skill…
I don’t want to start at the beginning because, contrary to Oscar Hammerstein II, it’s not a very good play to start… Maybe I’ll tell you why I took up golf another time.
Normally I play 9 holes but the other day I was feeling my shoe size rather than my age. There was a mountain of washing up at home so I strode, inasmuch as I ever stride, to the 10th tee.
After a few shots – the hack golfer does not keep too close a count of his score – I was close to the green* which was about 30 feet away and 15 feet above me. Unfortunately, in my direct line to the flag* was someone’s garden with a low hedge facing me. I got my wedge* out, lined the shot up and my ball disappeared over the hedge into the garden. So I took out another ball, played a shot from the place where my ball had gone out of bounds* and a bit later I got that ball on the green – about 20 feet from the hole.
I was irritated. I had lost a golf ball – probable value 35p. I may not have been born in Yorkshire but have spent over half my life here. I can remember as a kid playing in our small back garden when the ball would go over the six-foot fence and plucking up the bottle to climb over the fence to get the ball back. Going round and asking involved being polite and getting lectured on how my ball had broken my neighbour’s prize winning tulips or some such.
Anyway, one edge of the green backed onto the garden where my ball had disappeared. The hedge nearest to this point was a ten-foot high leylandii… I peered in and there about seven feet away, on the lawn, was my ball. I took my Harris Tweed flat cap* off. I pressed my face into the hedge and tried to drag the ball to me using my putter*… Blow (or words to that effect). Couldn’t quite reach. I had a look round and there was a bunker* with a rake*.
Now I don’t want you to think I wasn’t properly brought up and, as it turned out, that was just as well. I held the prongs end of the rake and wiggled the handle until I could steer my ball towards the hedge and then put my hand through the three feet high mesh fence at the bottom of the hedge and picked my ball up. Result!
At this point a (very) middle class voice came from the other side of the hedge and said:
“Oh, I do like to see enterprise rewarded.”
“Well, I was desperate…” I replied. I felt I was 9 again. The Voice then disappeared and I heard the sound of a car being started. I went back to the hedge and noticed there were not one or two but three other balls lying within raking distance. So, triumph… Having thought I had lost a ball I had now found three more… And what’s more a couple of them were not lake* balls.
However, something was missing. I had my flat cap. It had been very useful as a receptacle for the balls I had been collecting so that was okay. I remembered there was a ball I had hit about ten minutes earlier onto the green. I looked for it; it was there okay but a bit blurred… I had lost my glasses. They were somewhere in the leylandii… They still are. Have you ever looked in a ten-foot high by 60 foot long leylandi hedge for a pair of glasses?
* Glossary of technical terms
Green – Bit of smooth grass at the end of each hole where there is a hole for your ball
Flag – A flag. It sits on top of a pole out of the hole, which you are trying to get your ball into. Called the pin in the USA because they don’t know any better…
Out of bounds – An area where your ball is not supposed to be and is, therefore, out of commission
Wedge – The name of a club (come on – the thing you hit ball with) which has a very lofted face – supposedly useful for hitting the ball in the air and not too far.
Harris Tweed flat cap – Essential bit of golfing equipment for the more mature golfer
Putter – Oh, for goodness sake, you know what that is…
Bunker – Horrible sandy grave that hide in various places and gobble your ball up. To be avoided.
Rake – For raking the bunker after you’ve put your footprints all over it spending 10 minutes trying to get your ball out of sandy deathtrap
Lake ball – Cheap second rate golf balls for third rate golfers. So called because they may have been recovered from ponds on golf courses