Watch out. Vousden’s about…

Thought of the Day
Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm

Let’s get rid of them
We all know, from repeated and bitter experience, that golf is impossible to master. But it could be made easier if a few outdated or unworkable notions were consigned to the rubbish bin of history. These are my suggestions for the things that should be banned from golf and never allowed to see light of day again.

Closing par five holes with water all down one side. Been there, done that to such an extent that it has become a cliché. You’re course architects so have a little imagination and ingenuity.

Holes where you have to carry more than 150 yards to reach the fairway (I regularly play with a guy who just about hits it 150; he thoroughly enjoys his game and has no ambitions to shoot 62 or establish a long-driving record. Leave him be).

Golf buggies, unless you have a specific medical condition, such as death. Get out and walk, you lardass, it’s what the game is for.

Plastic water bottles and tees. If you want your children to play the game, they will need a living planet on which to play.

Silly, pedantic and stuffy regulations that specify the length of shorts or socks you must have, or deny you the chance to change your shoes in the car park. Closely followed by any golfer who believes that club membership somehow lifts them above the hoi polloi, suggesting he (or she) is a better class of person.

Advice that should be banned:
• Keep your head down (keep it still, perhaps, but ‘head down’ is a surefire way to have a steep swing and hit it fat).

• Keep your left arm straight (impossible, unless you’re a robot; human anatomy dictates that there has to be some flexion).

• The standard splash bunker shot is the easiest in golf (Listen pal, once you’ve thinned a few balls clear across the green, usually into a water hazard, committing to taking sand and having a full follow-through takes more guts than standing up to my wife, bless her).

Mobile phones on the course – or at the very least, set them to vibrate so that you can take an urgent inbound message. If you need to respond to it; go to the clubhouse or so deep in the woods that we’ll need to send sniffer dogs to find you.

Anyone who doesn’t repair at least one pitch mark on every green (whether they made it or not), replace divots, rake bunkers or who tosses litter.

Any golfer who can be heard more than 60 yards away; the exception being if they just made a hole-in-one, in which case an excited squeak is allowed.

Golfers who think that women or juniors are inferior species who should always give way and call them through.

Golfers who never call singles through, still labouring under the misapprehension that a single golfer has no standing on the course (it hasn’t been in the rule book for years – look it up).

TV commentators saying:
• ‘He’s got a delicate touch for a big man,’ (what, you can’t be a surgeon or watch maker if you’re over 5’ 10” or weigh more than 80 kilos?)

• ‘That wasn’t what he was hoping for,’ (You mean he didn’t intend to shank it into that alligator-infested water hazard?)

• ‘He played good [well] on the back side’ [inward nine].

Post-round interviewers who ask quantitative rather than qualitative questions, to which the answer could always be: ‘Very’. Examples:
How happy/disappointed are you with that round?
How important was that birdie/triple bogey on the seventh?
How worried were you when your six-stroke lead disappeared/delighted were you when your lead stretched to six holes?
How pleasing is it to have your wife/children/parents/children/family dog here to witness your win?

Television producers showing pictures of Tiger Woods standing at the side of the green, walking down the fairway, warming up on the range, tossing blades of grass in the air, chatting with his caddy, squinting into the sun or picking his nose, all the while others are playing golf. Yes, he has been the game’s great superstar of the last 20 years but yes, we know what he looks like.

Stoney-faced golf pros who chip in from 40 yards away, out of deep rough, onto a steeply undulating green, and barely acknowledge the raucous applause that follows. We know you’re delighted and although we don’t need to see a jig of celebration around the fringe, you could at least crack a smile rather than pretend that you’re so damned cool that it was nothing really – and yes, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, I’m thinking about you.

Any spectator at a televised event who screams ‘Get in the hole!’; ‘Mashed potato!’; ‘You’re the Man!’ or any other asinine gibberish. Have some respect for yourself, if no-one else.

Golfers who are in the middle of an anecdote when it’s their turn to play, and want to finish the story before hitting the ball. No, nay and nix, you moron – slow play is one of the biggest problems facing the game, and you’re a fat part of it. Hit your shot, finish your story – see how easy that was?

Greenkeepers who stop their mower, out of consideration, at the side of the fairway from where you’re about to hit. It’s okay, I can deal with the noise of the mower in the background; what I can’t cope with is the implacable gaze of the greenkeeper. I know he’s seen every kind of foozled shot imaginable, and doesn’t give a monkey’s about how I hit mine, but it still feels as if he’s comparing me to all those other numpties, and I usually don’t come out of the comparison well.

While we’re on the subject, greenkeepers who start work at the first hole and follow you throughout the round, taking just as long to work on the hole as it takes you to play it. Start on the 18th, guys, and that way we’ll only be on the same hole once, rather than 18 times.

The golfer who thinks that, because we’re not in official competition, he can be cavalier about the rules. If you’re playing me for a £1 Nassau (which is the most I will ever wager), you had better do it properly or all bets are off.

The two handicapper (American, of course) who once yelled to me across a fairway:
‘Hey Marty. Did you hear about the shopping mall they’re building on this hole?’
‘No, I didn’t.’
‘Yeh, they’re putting it up between your drive and mine.’
Admittedly this is a deeply personal one but nevertheless heartfelt (and Steve, you know who you are).

Electric clothing, such as bright red or yellow trousers, pink or luridly diamond-patterned sweaters. Anyone who wears such gear obviously thinks they’re a damned fine golfer (why else would you draw such attention to yourself?) but the evidence usually suggests the opposite.

Mulligans, which are, for three reasons, detestable. They’re American, completely outwith the spirit of the game and they brand you as a cheat. If golf reveals the character of a man, a propensity to take a mulligan shows it to be shallow and untrustworthy.

Any golfer who says ‘One’ when your ball falls off the tee as you’re addressing it.

Heather, gorse and brambles on the course – take a flamethrower to the lot of it.

Long par threes (over 170 yards) where the flagstick is positioned directly behind a bunker. Yes, we can hit the ball that distance (well, most days), but not with enough height to clear the bunker yet stop on the green.

Any amateur golfer who can drive the ball more than 270 yards; that’s just showing off.

Quote of the Week
To get an elementary grasp of the game of golf, a human must learn, by endless practice, a continuous and subtle series of highly unnatural movements, involving about sixty-four muscles, that results in a seemingly natural swing, taking two seconds to begin and end.
Alistair Cooke

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