It is that time of year again, when golfers across the globe make their wish list of Christmas presents, most of them hoping that their wife will pick them up that superb new titanium forged driver, but safe in the knowledge that at best, you are going to receive a pair of socks with a stick-man golfer sewn into the weave.
Therefore, in keeping with the festive spirit, here’s my Christmas golfing wish list. They are not presents as such, but they are things that I think would benefit me, and fellow golfers, enormously over the coming weeks and months.
1. A couple of driving enclosures next to the first tee at golf courses
I play a lot of golf on local courses where space is at a premium and ‘warming up’ tends to involve hitting a few putts on the practice green, taking a swig of coke and then having a few energetic swings of the club while on the tee. Would it be so expensive for courses to have two small enclosures, similar to cricket batting enclosures, where players could warm up for their golf round by hitting tee shots? Netting would stop the balls flying miles away and protect those on the tee waiting. This would help golfers enormously and reduce the chances of that dreaded nemesis of many amateur hackers, the dreaded 10-yard topped opening tee shot in front of a sniggering audience.
2. Temporary greens to be greens that are temporary.
I know that doesn’t seem to make sense, but let me explain. Where I live, the courses around here see a lot of feet during the course of a typical week. In summer, this isn’t too much of a problem but in winter, when the ground is wet and muddy, the courses and greens in particular can take a beating. The solution, other than shutting the course, is to have ‘temporary’ greens used to save wear and tear on the greens.
In principle, I am all for this. Spikes and shoes do not chew the greens up during winter, which makes them better conditioned in the spring and summer. My argument is not with having temporary greens, but do some of them have to be so obviously temporary?
I’ve played on some courses temporary greens that are better than the normal greens at my local course. In addition, I have played on temporary greens where it is a form of crazy golf. The greens are uneven, pock marked and in one particularly brilliant move by one greens keeper, located under the branches of a large pine tree, which meant it was covered in pine needles and pine cones, making putting impossible.
Yet on the same course, there are temporary greens in good condition, not quite as good a condition as the real greens, but certainly good enough to make a round of golf and putting meaningful. So please, make temporary greens with more emphasis on the “greens” and less on the “temporary” and me, and a lot of other golfers, would be very happy indeed. Otherwise, we’ll just go to the crazy golf course during the winter instead.
3. Slow playing four balls that don’t filter smaller, quicker groups through should be used for target practice.
This is surely one of the most selfish things in golf. I don’t have a problem with four balls playing, or staying in front even of two or three ball games, if they are playing at a good pace and a queue of golfers isn’t building up behind them. Thankfully, this is often the case.
However, there are times when you become very well acquainted with the four groups of golfers playing behind you because at every tee you are waiting 30 minutes for the four ball in front to finish their conversations, (with each other or on the phone), measuring out who’s shot it is or searching for the ball in the rough for an hour or two.
What makes this matter worse is when you can see in front of the offending four ball, three or four empty holes, while behind them, the players are stacking up like planes waiting to land.
Of course, we all know that in such situations, the four ball should let people play through. Only you know that the worst offenders don’t. So the solution for me is simple, if a four ball is slow playing and doesn’t let people through then everyone waiting at the tee each time is allowed to drive one ball at them (with no penalty) until they get the hint and let you through, or are carted off to hospital.
It’s not in the festive spirit I agree and it’ll never happen because it’s mean, probably illegal and definitely not good golf etiquette but anybody who has been forced to play a round of golf for five or six hours behind one such group would probably share these sentiments.
4. Exorbitant golf club membership fees outlawed
I’m not a member of a local golf club for several reasons. Chief amongst them being that I do not own enough tweed in my wardrobe and I do not have possession of a single cardigan. The other main reason is cost. The prices around where I live, for even a modest private course membership, are astronomical. When membership numbers are falling, clubs are effectively putting themselves beyond the means of many thousands of golfers due to their ridiculous over-pricing for membership.
I’d like to see uniform club membership at a reasonable price. There is no justification for one club charging £900+ a year, when another club a few miles away, with similar, if not better facilities, can offer membership for much less than half that. I’d also like to see private club green fees for non-members slashed too as unfortunately, on may courses, it is too much like racketeering.
5. “Letter of introduction from the secretary and valid official golf club handicap”
Fancy playing a prestigious course as a treat? Well you can! All you need is to pay around £200 per round, get a valid club handicap and a letter of introduction from your club secretary that states the following:
- Who you are
- How much you earn per month
- Whether you are of suitable social class to play on this golf course
- What your current handicap is, was and will be in four years from now.
- What type of clubs you use and whether you repair your divots.
- Who you voted for at the last election
- What colour socks you wear (red is right out)
- What car you drive (anything less than a BMW 6-series and you’ve no chance)
It is this egotistic elitism in certain golfing circles that drives me mad. Why should the local municipal golfer, who saves up their money, not be allowed to play a plush course once in a while if they can afford the ridiculous green fee? Since when do employers look at a list of potential employees and say “No, a C.V is all well and good, but what we need to really find out about this person is a letter from the secretary of their local golf club.”
Unfortunately, this is a golfing ‘tradition’ that is nothing of the sort. It is simply a remnant of upper-middle class elitism, that is totally out of place in these supposedly enlightened times.
So that’s my list Santa. Good luck getting them down my chimney. Though I feel you have more chance of doing that than seeing any of the above come to fruition any time soon.
Images by Gorilla Golf Blog©