Six years after the fact, I still shake my head when I think of the events that prompted me to walk out on the club I was a member of most recently.
Along with my two regular playing partners, I had just finished playing in a medal on a particularly wet Saturday. The heavens had opened with around five holes to go and never let up. Consequently, we were like drowned rats when we walked off the 18th.
We were in one of the last groups out that day and, keen not to hold anybody up, we decided to input our scores in the club’s computerised scoring system before getting changed. The computer stood on a plinth no more than two paces inside the front door of the clubhouse. On either side of it were glass doors to two bars: a members’ bar to the left and a public bar to the right. I entered my scores first and then stepped aside whilst the other two guys did likewise.
Immediately, I clocked a guy in the members’ bar eyeing us from his chair on the other side of the door. He put down his glass, stood up and walked through the door, past us and stood at the open front door to the clubhouse with his hands his pockets. He was still dressed for golf.
Staring out at the empty course, he said: “There are far too many hats in here for my liking.” He was clearly talking about us but not explicitly to us. The two guys I was playing with hadn’t removed their baseball caps to enter their scores. The three of us looked at each other, all of us stunned by what was happening.
As we did, the offended wee petal in question stomped back into the bar – eyeballing us preposterously as he opened the glass door with his back – and reacquainted himself with his pint.
WHAT RORY NEEDS TO DO TO WIN THE MASTERS
I had been considering leaving the club for a while up to that point. That incident sealed my resignation. I mean, imagine being so upset by somebody wearing baseball cap, never mind the conditions, nor the fact that he wasn’t even in the same room as us.
Look, did he have a point? According to club’s rules, yes. “Baseball caps should not be worn indoors”. Fine. A bit daft to me but I get it. However, could he have made his point better? Without a shred of doubt. He could have said, ‘Lads, would you mind taking your caps off indoors please?’ and that would have been fine. Better yet, he could have minded his own business and concentrated all his energy on giving his liver a beating. But no. He chose instead to be a pompous, condescending, sanctimonious muppet.
I emailed my resignation to the club secretary in short order. I have no interest in sharing anything with people so devoid of manners and common courtesy, far less a golf club membership.
It’s all a bit of a shame, really. I quite liked the course. It’s nowhere near as good as some of the other members seem to think it is but it’s good enough. I also got on well with the pro. He was pro-active and worked all hours for the benefit of the club. Interestingly, he was the only one to get in touch with me after I quit. He was genuinely keen to know the reasons behind my departure. I thought was a touch of class. He’s no longer there, from what I gather. Perhaps he, too, grew weary of the unreasonably contemptuous minority amongst the membership.
Fortunately, not every club is so infested. I tend to think I just got unlucky and that, had I bothered to do my homework before signing any papers, I would have joined somewhere else. A lesson learned, for sure.
Still, it’s sad that such attitudes persist. We see evidence of it on an all-too-regular basis. Just look at the furore caused by Tyrrell Hatton’s hoodie during the recent BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. It’s quite possible more was written about what the Englishman was wearing than his performance in winning his fifth European Tour title. Whilst a hearteningly significant proportion of people lapped up Hatton’s clobber, a depressing chunk of folk carped a load of crap about it. “The golf course is no place for such clothing” etc.
One English golf club even went so far as to send a missive to its membership in the wake of Hatton’s win reminding them that hoodies are on their list of banned items of clothing. That amazed me. I had no idea dinosaurs could operate computers.
Disappointing, isn’t it? I mean, when you stop and consider everything that has happened in 20-bloody-20, it’s incredible that there are folk out there who are mortally offended by a hooded jumper. Some people, it seems, don’t deserve golf.
“A bad attitude,” observed the late, great Payne Stewart, “is worse than a bad swing.”
Ain’t that the truth.
• This column first appeared in issue 181 of bunkered (September 2020). To subscribe, click here.