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Golfing for Women
Golf. What me?
As a retiree in South East Asia, I now have the amazing luxury of time to sit back and enjoy life, contemplating not just my navel or what mischief I can get up to next (I’m a Hanuman, born in the Chinese year of the Monkey, 1944), but life in general and mine in particular.
Well, I would actually like to do this, but my ever busy husband thinks otherwise. He worries that if I sit about too long not only will I get fat and lazy, but bored, and that could mean severe problems for him. He could be right of course, but really, that’s something I can never be accused of, being bored. Heavens, there’s just too much to do, see, find, explore and work at. The list goes on. If there were 48 hours in a day, I still would need more. That’s the trouble, I’m not very organized. As a worker, Mum and Grandma for some 40 years, I had to be organized. Now I’m let loose and I don’t have to be organized any more, I feel wonderfully liberated. But where do I begin? I can start a dozen jobs a day and not finish any one of them.
So, he’s exasperated and decides to sort me out for good and for all! Golf, he says, is the solution! GOLF, oh no! And I thought I’d escaped that one! What cruel fate had made his old boss give him a set of golf clubs? Not just any old golf clubs I might add, but a set of very expensive Callaways from Harrods in London. Fitted especially for him, - he’s a very tall guy so couldn’t manage with normal sized clubs. (or the hat………..)!
“Nice dear”, I’d said at his presentation and leaving party. Thinking all the time that it’s something he’ll probably never take up as he’d not mentioned any interest whatsoever in the sport in all the years I’d known him. Motor bikes, racing cars, tennis, cycling yes, but never golf.
What made him think that I would like a set too? I was horrified when he presented me with a set of ladies clubs and could barely keep quiet. I wanted to wrap them round his neck and pull the ends tight! And where should he put the balls?
By this time, he’d been out several times with our friend and neighbour Ben and Ben’s wife Fiona, who was probably like me and not in the least bit interested really, but had started playing nonetheless.
“You must come on the driving range” they insisted.
“Hmmmmm, yes dear, well next week I can probably fit it in”, I replied, (or next month or next year or even next century I thought).
But I was not to escape so easily and was duly carted off to the driving range and managed to ‘push’ a few balls around reluctantly. They went anywhere but straight when I did perchance to catch the minute object a swift clout. In fact, more of the turf disappeared down the practice green than did any of my balls. He on the other hand, was doing marvellously well and I admired his professional swing to the ball and the follow through which saw the thing curve into the air in a perfect arc, only to fall some 250 yards away! I was suitably impressed! Seriously, I mean very impressed!
The whole morning was accompanied by an impressive chatter of instruction, like he’d been a golfer all his life and was now the pro with a total beginner! But I knew otherwise. He knew no more than I did. He was just repeating verbatim what Ben had been telling him the weeks before!
So this new hobby continued, with me making every conceivable excuse to escape the dull scene but not being convincing enough most of the time. Then of course, we upped stumps and headed for Thailand.
By that time, in the excitement of moving to such an exotic location, I’d forgotten about golf. Being only vaguely reminded when the packers packed our clubs and accoutrements into the cases to be transhipped here. The thought had crossed my mind to ‘lose’ them, but it was a mean thought and only fleeting. Maybe I could learn to like it. Maybe or maybe not……………..
One of the first things we were invited to do soon after we arrived of course, much to my chagrin, was play golf. The invitation came from my dear brother and his wife. They’d lived and worked between here and Hong Kong for many years, and their main recreation was of course, golf. I should have known! Out came the treasured golf clubs, (his, not mine) and they were duly cleaned and buffed with great care and attention as were his shoes.
Of course, we had to make a trip to the Golf shop – not any old golf shop in Pattaya, but the one at Phoenix Golf and Country Club – what a grand name. We pondered over all the clothing totally ‘necessary’ for the budding golfer, and after chaffing at the exorbitant prices, finally bought a couple of shirts and some shorts for Derek. I was not going to pay those prices for silly clothing that I probably would only wear once, and promptly found some good gear in the market in Pattaya. Even that was a problem as the sizes in Thailand bare no resemblance to the ones in the UK. My idea of a large sized sports shirt would have fitted my 10 year old grand-daughter Kayleigh. So I had to opt for the XXL. XXL! Oh my heaven! Have I really become so big in so short a time? But despair not those of you preparing to migrate to this lovely land, The Thai version of XXL is in fact our English size 14 to 16!! Phew! What a relief.
I was quaking in my shoes by the time Sunday came round. Not only did I NOT want to play golf, I did NOT want to play it at some ‘posh’ Country Club with eagle eyed and critical ‘experts’ watching my every move. How could I escape this one? I had no grand-children to baby sit, no pressing appointment that could not wait, and no friends out here that needed my expert help and advice (a euphemism for gossiping and a bit of retail therapy that is). Oh well, like Marie Antoinette going to the guillotine, I reluctantly donned my new golfing clothes and a pair of dreadful looking shoes that crippled my poor feet, and set off with this merry band of enthusiasts. Even that dear husband of mine, you’d think he’d been playing golf all his life the way he was discussing tactics and details. He had the new ‘language’ off to a fine art; I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
The day went from bad to worse! What was I doing here? my brother was cranky and swore a lot; my normally placid husband grew horns and a tail and became unbelievably competitive, and my sister-in-law played the most wonderful golf – I hated her! My efforts were miserable, nay abominable. Okay, so this was my first try on the hallowed ‘turf’, but I vowed it would be my last too. I was hot, tired, irritable and a classic ‘grumpy old woman’. The worst part was this dreadful pair of patronizing men – they proceeded from minute one to give me advice and pull my arms, shoulders, head, hips, knees and hands into the what can only be described as bodily contortions. I wanted to smack them both or at least stomp off. But my dignity had already gone and I couldn’t bare another pitying glance from the caddies. I wanted to smack them too!
Four hours of torture was too much and a normally non-alcoholic moi downed 3 pints of beer in half an hour. I’d really lost the plot I decided. The only helpful suggestion that day was some kind chap offering me a card and saying ‘try this guy, he’s a golf pro and can help you a lot’.
BUT I DID NOT WANT TO BE HELPED! I DID NOT WANT TO PLAY THIS INCREDIBLY SILLY GAME. WHAT I WANTED was to go home to my beloved dogs, my garden, my bath and cry! Yes, CRY!
But that was nearly two years ago. Today I go happily and voluntarily to my golf each week, sometimes twice a week. I’m no longer dragged kicking and screaming to the first tee. My game has improved a lot and I can at least get the ball in a straight line and past the 100 metre mark. I’ve got a reasonable swing and I no longer twirl round like an elderly ballet dancer when I let fly the club. My beloved and long suffering caddy Tai, used to get so cross with me for doing this, so I had to stop to preserve his sanity. (Hanuman at work again)! These guys take it so personally!
I did take the advice of working with the golf pro but he gave up after lesson 3, head in hand, chain smoking and clutching a bottle of Scotch to his breast, muttering something about ‘it wasn’t like this at St. Andrews’! But he’d imparted enough of his wisdom in my direction for me to at least partially know what I was doing; come to grips with the terminology; grip the club correctly; call the club a club and not a bat and generally start to enjoy it.
The final reformation came about when I was allowed to go to our local golf course at Plutaluang having got fed-up with all the ‘posh’ people at the many other clubs around the area, and feeling inadequate and not just in golf. My brother had by this time also gone his merry way. I think I really was an embarrassment in front of all of his friends and he started to play golf the other side of Bangkok every time we suggested a few rounds.
Plutaluang Golf Club was my life saver. Not only was it beautiful, it was comfortable; run by kind and enthusiastic people and not too expensive. It had the most incredible scenery, was full of mature trees, lakes and shrubs, had wildlife and birds in abundance and wasn’t overcrowded at any time. It has 36 holes and each 9 hole course is totally different in challenge as well as scenery. I’d come home! I’d fallen in love with this truly magnificent place and even liked golf a little bit.
We always have the same caddies but my caddy Tai, shares his work with his wife Boom, so sometimes I get Boom and at first she could not get to grips with the fact that I was not interested in being a professional golf player. My golfing efforts aggrieved her sensibilities to the core. You see, she played golf herself and was a good golfer, so to see someone ‘murdering’ her beloved game was anathema to her. We had long silences, a bit of ‘tutting’, scowls of disapproval and various other means of making me feel inadequate. I further irritated her by disappearing frequently to collect seed pods and filled her golf buggy up with dirty ‘bits’ that were often crawling with ants and suchlike. She was NOT amused. (her resemblance Queen Victoria actually now I come to think of it, was evident in more ways than one)! I wasn’t quite sure how to tackle this. It was fine if we had other people to play with, but when it was just hubby and me, it got quite unbearable at times.
But of course, the answer was simple – don’t have the same caddy. But I liked her, she was a super person and very knowledgeable about the game of golf, so in the end, after a frustrating afternoon of listening to her ‘tutting’ and scowling, I tackled her head-on and told her I just wanted to play golf. I didn’t want to win tournaments or become the next Tiger Woods, I just wanted to enjoy the company, the scenery and play it ‘my’ way. Why didn’t I do it before? She understood and has never again tried to make me play ‘professionally’. We have a good laugh and she often borrows my clubs and equipment to play in her own tournaments. And she does extremely well to boot! I’m her best fan!
So there is the story of how yours truly got dragged into the great game of golf and ended up enjoying it tremendously. I can even watch several hours of it on TV given the time. I’d recommend it to anyone, not only does it give you the chance to see different parts of the world often not available to others, but it gives you a sense of freedom and is the one sport you can continue playing until the day you die (and some people have done so too)!
Vive la Golf!!!