How golf can transform players

Charles Beningfield

You know, I am lost in admiration for those young professional golfers you see on TV these days and the ease with which they control that little white ball.

Of course, what we don’t see are the hours and hours of practice it takes to get to that level.

Nevertheless, it beats the hell out of working nine to five for pin money compared to what these guys get paid for four days’ work.

It brought to mind an interesting irrelevancy about the late US president John F Kennedy.

Apparently when he played golf, photographers could only take his picture when he was standing on the first tee.

At no other stage of the game were photographs allowed.

The wisdom of this presidential policy, I got to thinking, would perhaps be best appreciated by the happy hackers among us.

Most of them never look better on a golf course than when they are standing on the first tee.

They look like golfers and I defy anyone to tell the difference between them and the demons who play off scratch.

There they stand nonchalantly on the first tee, assured in the early morning sunlight. No memories of past disasters cloud their brows.

Hope burns bright in their breasts. Their hearts echo the cheerful songs of the golf course bird life.

They breathe deep of the champagne air laden with the scent of new-mown grass. They gaze smiling down the fairway which stretches ahead of them green and inviting.

They feel a twinge of pity for the little white ball that is going to take such a pounding every time they hit it screaming straight down the greensward.

That, believe me, is the only time to photograph them.

If the photographers leave it any later and snaps them when they have started to play, what they are liable to get are pictures of the poor sod making his sixth attempt to drive his ball off the first tee while it sits on its little peg and sneers at him.

The rot may not set in so easily of course, but it will almost certainly show up by the second or third hole.

By that time the fine façade of nonchalance has vanished like a golf ball into the rough.

Memories of the ludicrous displays he has given before crowd in upon him.

The confounded bird-life whose melodies fell so sweetly upon the ear a little earlier seem to be following him around bleating their stupid refrains with the sole aim of putting him off his stroke.

He feels an intense hate for the little ball that gives him such deep pain every time he hits it whistling straight into the middle of the long grass.

By the 10th tee he has frankly gone berserk and if a photographer were foolhardy enough to show up at that stage, he would happily cleave him down the middle with a five iron and dance on his camera.

He could of course, bury the remains in one of the deep pits he has so conveniently dug in most of the bunkers.

Life, some would say, is too short for golf.

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