One of the (many) reasons I was destined to write about golf for a living rather than play it is that I can’t stand practising.
I don’t have it in me to spend hour after hour, day after day, week after week, launching balls into a barren field. I can’t do it. It bores me rigid.
The problem is simple. They say practise makes perfect. But nobody’s perfect. So why practise? The futile full-time pursuit of perfection is not my idea of a good time. Part-time mediocrity? Sign me up.
All that said, I found myself with a couple of hours to kill one recent Saturday morning. Next thing I know, I’m standing in a bay at my local range with 100 balls at my feet. I’m not sure how it happened. Maybe I quantum leaped. Anyway, there I was. A driver, a 4-iron, a 7-iron, a wedge and, I repeat, ONE-HUNDRED BALLS. Fifty would have been fine. None, even better.
Figuring I was going to be there for a while, I warmed up. A limber here, a loosen there. As I did, I took a look around.
You see some sights at the range, don’t you?
In the next bay was a young lad in his late teens. Metronomic swing. Athletic build. A thick mop of perfectly-coiffed hair. It was just like looking in a mirror if, instead, of reflective film, the glass was covered by a big sheet of paper that had “MATE, YOUR MIRROR’S KNACKERED” scrawled on it.
The two bays at the far end of the range were occupied by another pair of young guys. They weren’t quite so gifted as Tiger McWoods to my right. Instead, they seemed to be engaged in a game of “Who Can Hit The Frame Of The Building Most Often”. Every 20 seconds or so, an almighty metallic clatter would ring around the range, followed by high pitched howls.
Still, at least they were having fun, which is more than could be said for the father and son in between them, me and the future ‘Greatest Golfer of All Time’.
The dad had turned up in his full kit. Waterproof top (it was a covered range), chinos (of course), golf shoes (so white he must polish them with Colgate), and a white belt. He looked like he’d walked straight off the set of Bawbag: The Movie.
His son? No more than five-years-old. A timid looking wee fella. And, as it turned out, with good reason.
I tuned in to this special, father-son bonding experience just in time to hear the dad lose his rag after his boy failed to stripe the ball at 6,000 rpm. “That’s no’ it,” he hissed with all the paternal affection of a hypodermic needle. “You’re no’ square to the target.”
Square to the target?! The poor wee lad probably still doesn’t know his squares from his triangles by this point. As a new father, I can honestly say watching Drill Sergeant Dad demonstrate how not to parent is the best lesson I’ve ever had at any range.
And then, of course, there was me: the eavesdropping, judgemental journo. After a half-hearted warm-up, I picked up my wedge, addressed the ball, and promptly shanked my first ball into the perimeter fence. Looking down and seeing I had 99 left immediately reminded me of two things: why I don’t practise more often, and why I probably should.