When I play again...

 When I play golf again…

If you ever needed a reminder how much you missed the game then the past 12 months should have helped with that. We look ahead to some brighter times and a modified outlook. 

When I play golf again…

I will, literally and figuratively, smell the roses, the cut grass, and the pesticides and I will listen for the crunch-click of spikes or whatever their cheap, plastic replacements are. I will look up, more than down, and constantly know the fragility around the whole of existence, and also know the 'don't take it awayness' of a round of golf. Many of our previous rounds came in December, it’s now nearly March. Even the band-aid nature of the driving range hasn’t been there. Golf, I’ve missed you, even when you’ve been covered in snow.

When I play golf again…

I might even break out a sleeve of three new balls that have been tucked away in a cupboard for special occasions, occasions that never seem to come around, particularly not in the past 12 months. I'll speak to the people I'm playing with, nicely, and I’ll make more of an effort to speak when things aren’t going well rather than springing into life when things are.

The bad shots will be met with the same reaction as the good ones and maybe I’ll even learn from them, better still I’ll just laugh them off.

When I play golf again… 

I might even break out those sky blue trousers on a nice summer’s day that I haven’t dared to wear for the past five years. If the past year has taught us anything it doesn’t matter. There will be far worse sights out there than you trying a new look. Do it, live a little.

When I play golf again… 

I will enjoy the walk. In the past year we’ve learnt to enjoy walking again, it’s pretty much all we’ve done for fun. It makes you feel good, it gets the blood pumping and, within a few minutes, we’re all talking more than usual and feeling a bit perkier than when we were sitting in the house. It feels like life is actually still going on – as a piece of amateur psychology you could easily draw the conclusion that it’s good for the body and soul.

Now throw in a golf course, your clubs and three mates into the mix and you’ve basically got the most uplifting few hours possible. When things allow make the most of your golf.  

When I play golf again… 

I will putt out more. Due to time and life constraints a lot of my golf is played on my own and this, generally, doesn’t involve putting. I might hole out on the first hole but then lose interest. Given this is 45 per cent of the game this is probably one area where I’m letting myself down.

The standard perception is that most of us were amazing putters when we were younger, holing from everywhere or at least getting the ball somewhere near the hole, but are now in the middle of a 10-year fog of lagging absolutely everything.

When I play golf again… 

Staying with putting… our junior days were spent doing lap after lap after lap on the putting green for sums of money, sometimes as vast as 50p. Now if you find me on a putting green I’ll have either dropped a ball or have got my timings very wrong. It bores me because I can’t really do it any more and, rather than going back to those laps and making it fun, I shut up shop and don’t bother.

And then we wonder why we can’t putt in any form of competition.

When I play golf again… 

One target for 2021 and it’s nothing to do with World Handicap Systems or Slope Ratings is to play five new courses this year and revisit old ones. Silloth and Seaton Carew spring to mind. Given the first three months of this year and even more was lost last year we owe it to ourselves to push the boat out a bit and enjoy some new experiences. Go somewhere different, throw in an overnighter and tick off three new courses straightaway.  

When I play golf again…

I will go out with a half set more often than not. Even at the best of times it doesn’t really matter what happens but when you’re running round at 9pm on a Thursday it definitely doesn’t. Play your course without the crutch of the driver, ease off a 6-iron when you know it’s too much club and, if you dare, open up the face of your 9-iron, and learn to make the most of your clubs. It will stir your golfing soul, you’ll have a higher opinion of yourself for giving it a go and, if/when it doesn’t come off, it’s the perfect excuse.

When I play golf again…

Remember the thrill of watching the club pro fizz a load of long irons away when you were a junior? See your home course differently and give yourself a lot of long irons in to greens that either aren’t set up for them or that make you feel a bit awkward. You might not play to your handicap but, again, it doesn’t matter.

When I play golf again…

This is something I talk or think about far too often. Play a round with three clubs and it can’t include the driver – my current thinking on this one is 5-iron/9-iron and putter. If nothing else you should be able to hit your longest iron a bit better by the end of it all and your course-management skills should improve. 

 When I play golf again…

I’ll introduce a friend to the game or at least rekindle a lapsed player’s interest in the game. Golf doesn’t have to be stuffy or uncomfortable or sexist or ageist or plain dull and the more people who get to see it for what it can be the better.

When I play golf again…

It also doesn’t have to be 18 holes. Spend the last daylight hour cramming in half a dozen holes and, when the days are at their longest, try and squeeze in at least one day of 54 holes. Go on, do it. Oh, and maybe practise a bit more if time allows. An hour a week on your chipping will make the game a lot more enjoyable. 

When I play golf again…

When did you last play greensomes? Better still foursomes? The concern is that a) your partner will put you in some horrific spots and b) you might not get the opportunity to play a ‘proper round’. Solve that problem by going at it for 36 holes (and choose a decent partner).

When I play golf again… 

I want to make the most of my friends. Don’t limit yourself to a once-a-year game, make it a handful. You’ll no doubt have spent large chunks of the past 12 months promising one another that we’ll all make up for this lost time ‘in style’ and yet the fear is that we’ll slip back into our old ways.

When do you not enjoy playing golf with a mate? What’s the real danger in mixing up a couple of different mates? You’ll all get on, it will be fine, it might even be lovely. 

When I play golf again… 

I’ll invest in the local pro and have a lesson. There are all manner of creaks and groans in my swing and, for the price of a decent takeaway, I can begin to solve them by some one-to-one time with the pro or, better still, his assistant who might need the lessons a bit more.

Who doesn’t want to be more matey with their local pros? There are the demi-gods of the club and here’s your chance to thrust yourself under their wing, join their stable and start playing a bit better.

When I play golf again… 

The first round back I'll play it like it's the last round I'll ever play, and maybe the first I've ever played. I'll wear my best golfing outfit and probably lay it out the night before. I will drive slowly, and take my time, and I'll leave my phone in the car.


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