This Sporting Life: Ben plays golf

A friend of mine proved himself a supreme optimist when he invited me to play golf. Me. They guy so uncoordinated he didn’t learn to tie his shoes until he was 12.

And not only did he asked me to play, he also provided a very natty club polo shirt and cap to wear. How could I say no?

After being fitted out with a set of what I now know are not called golf “sticks”, I quickly googled the rules (apparently you don’t want the highest score) and was ready to hit the greens.

Anyone unfortunate enough to witness my efforts would have been reminded of American natural philosopher Henry David Thoreau and his quote: “I went into the woods because I wanted to be alone.”

Clearly my golf ball was a fan of Thoreau because each time I hit the bloody thing it was inexorably drawn to the bush, like a miner to the high-vis section of Target.

My playing partners, out of either kindness or a desire to finish the nine holes in less than four hours, gave me every tip they could think of to improve my game: Keep your eye on the ball; spread your legs further apart; follow through; loose wrists; use the Force.

But no matter what they told me, my ball continually veered to the right each time it was struck in anger. That’s the last time I use Tony Abbott-brand golf balls.

After a while, the game settled into a rhythm.  Hit the ball. Go into the bush to find the ball. Throw the ball back on to the fairway. Hit the ball. Go into the bush. Rinse. Repeat.

At this point, my safari was interrupted by one of the more civilised aspects of golf – the drinks cart.

Appearing like a mirage across the fairway, it arrived to dispense liquid refreshments and a welcome respite from my Bourke and Wills impression.

Not since the ashtrays at each end of my local bowls club have I seen such dedication to the members.

I can’t help but think events like the 100m sprint and the Melbourne Cup would be improved if participants could buy a Powerade at the halfway mark.

By the final three holes, my partners admitted it took a perverse skill to hit a tree every time I took a shot.

My best effort was a mighty drive that sent the ball ricocheting between multiple branches on the same tree, like a sylvanian pinball machine.

I won’t go in to the Sisyphean ordeal that was putting, except to say the golf club uses the same ball-repelling technology around its holes as is installed on the pool tables at university.

And that’s golf. If I keep playing nine holes a week I confidently expect to have a handicap of less than three digits before I die.

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