A Historical Preview of the Game of Golf

Sometimes fates conspire to turn even the best laid plans of a keen golfing amateur into something of a shambles. For many years now, I’ve followed the same standard procedure over the winter. When the sunlight starts to go of an evening and the days turn cold, this shameful fair-weather golfer puts his clubs in storage for a good few months.

A combination of work commitments, the fact that I am now the only driver at home and quite simply that I loathe cold, damp and wet weather, means that for a good portion of the year, my clubs lie dormant.

 

Golfers-on-Lausanne-golf-course


 

Each springtime, I follow the same procedure to get back playing once again. I always head off to a local range around March to hit a couple of hundred balls to try and get some semblance of a swing going and to re-invigorate muscle memory.

I’m not one for the latest golf apps, or indeed the latest golf trends. I don’t care about Rory McIlroy’s new 3-wood, or Luke Donald’s elegant swing and whether Tiger Woods has rediscovered his form. All I worry about is whether I can hit the ball without making an idiot of myself at the first tee.

 

After a few visits to the range, I will usually then take my son onto a local pitch and putt course and have 9 holes there with him before I finally venture out onto the course once again when the biting winds have subsided, usually around mid-April.

 

Golf-Cart-on-a-golf-course

 

However, fate and climate had a surprise in store for me this year. March in the UK was unseasonably warm, especially the last couple of weeks, with temperatures hitting the mid 20’s in some places. On one Thursday, my friend and playing partner called to say he had a day in lieu off work, and did I fancy taking advantage of the great weather to go to the range and hit some balls.

 

It was a great plan, until I ruined it by thinking that it would be such a shame to waste a beautiful day hitting balls aimlessly (literally) on the range, when we could, perhaps, head off to a course instead? The idea was enthusiastically agreed to by my playing partner and so it was with a good deal of early-season excitement we headed off to The Warren Municipal Course on the Wirral.

 

Golf-practice-range

 

It is a 9-hole course that you play twice to get the full 18. It is a good mix, one par three, one par five and the rest a variety of simple to challenging par fours. Located by the sea, the course is build on sandy soil and is very typical of a British links course, with plenty of hillocks and lumps and bumps that can send even a decent tee shot scuttling into the rough. Given the paucity of rain in the UK this Winter, the course was playing in superb condition.

It was just a shame that clearly, my golf partner and I were clearly not able to initially.

 

There is no doubt in my mind now that preparing for a round of golf after a lay off of six months requires more than just a few half-hearted practice swings close to the tee. The fact my playing partner topped his shot 30 yards along the fairway on the first should have been warning enough as I went to place the ball on the first tee.

I’d forgotten how to tee the ball. How high do I have the tee? Which tee do I use? I must have looked like a bungling amateur as I poked around the tee trying to get the ball teed up in the right way. Eventually half-satisfied at what I’d achieved, I took out a five-iron. The first hole was a relatively short par four and a five iron would be ample to get the ball into position for a simple approach to the green.

 

Golf-course-lost golf ball

 

Or it would have been had I not teed the ball up a fraction too high. The ball spun at least 200 yards, but sadly into the air. It’s forward momentum was markedly less and the ball came to a halt around 50 yards down the fairway.

From such an inausipicious start though, things gradually improved. After a wayward first few holes with a high percentage of shanked, topped and ill-judged shots, things began to improve towards the end of the first nine. By the par three seventh, I was feeling more comfortable and writing a ‘3’ onto the card on this treacherous hole felt good.

 

After that, the swing started to come back. The long par five was parred twice and each hole was started with a drive of unerring accuracy. I had several putts for birdie, but missed them. My iron play was sharper over the latter stages of the round too. Distance judgement improved and I was much better with my irons and wedges around the greens. Indeed, the only aspect of my game that remained off was my putting.

The net result after 18-holes after six months inactivity; a 92. And that after a 6-7-8-7 start, which put me 12 over par after four holes. I completed the remaining 14 holes in 8 over, and had at least four makeable birdie putts to radically improve that.  And this on a course that I had never played before and which proved to be a really great test of golfing ability.

 

Next-golf-course-tee

 

Was it worth it? Without a doubt. To be able to get back out onto the course so early in the season for me was a bonus and the score I shot mattered less than actually being out there. I can go to the range in any weather and at different times, but my course time is going to be strictly limited this year so to take advantage of the conditions and opportunity and hit some balls, was fantastic.

Here’s hoping that by the next time I get to play 18-holes, I just remember how to tee the ball up on the first tee.

 

 

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