Now, call me a pleb as much as you wish, but I really don’t see the obsession some folk in this town have with golf. Unrefined as I am, I simply cannot see the enjoyment in it. Every morning I wake up at 7 am, and by the time I’ve rolled out of bed at half-past, the view from outside my window is awash with what I assume to be half of Britain’s freemasons carting themselves to the Old Course, apparently in competition as to who can don the most obnoxious outfit possible. And for what? The only thing that could possibly have me up so spiritedly so early would be the promise of the second-coming of Christ. Even then, I reckon the Lord our Saviour would only get the pleasure of gazing upon me in my comfiest pyjamas and my fluffy yeti slippers.
I’ve tried golf precisely twice before coming to St Andrews, and both times I found it hideously boring. Very little of the time you’re actually doing anything (besides researching the initiation ritual to the secret society you’re very obviously trying to join) and most of the time you’re either walking trying to find where you’ve hit the ball or watching other people not enjoy themselves as they line up to take their go. The only enjoyment you get out of golf is the chin-wag with your fellow Masons and the walk itself to where your ball isn’t, and both of which you can do without getting up ridiculously early, being battered by the wind in the open or having to spend a small fortune on a set of bats and balls.
As legend has it, Woodrow Wilson played 1,000 rounds of golf during his presidency — you know, the presidency which involved dealing with the then largest war of all time — and honestly perhaps I can imagine how it might relieve a bit of stress. Perhaps he imagined the ball was the Kaiser’s head; who knows? However, the folk who swarm the Old Course every morning generally don’t look all that stressed and, even if they are, I can think of many cheaper ways to deal with it than making the trek all the way to a remote Scottish town and paying £125 a day to tee-off. In terms of decadence, no activity is more eye-wateringly grotesque as the one on our town’s very doorstep.
This brings me onto my next point. How can it be so eye-wateringly expensive? A decent annual club membership at my local club (not exactly the most prestigious either) will set you back close to a grand. Hit yourself up with some shiny bats and a silly branded jumper and you’ll be topping off close to 1,300 smackers. This is before you even get started. After all, you’re going to need to impress your prospective future lodge-brothers by showing that buying several of those sixty-quid martinis absolutely has not caused you financial ruin. In theory, the cost of golf should be self-defeating — if you’re rich enough and successful enough to be in a position to afford golf then surely you must have some ability to recognise good value for money… which ought to prevent you from playing it.
Now, as I’ve said before during this piece, my inability to understand the appeal of golf may be rooted in my nature as a proletarian heathen, but I’ve spoken to some bourgies as well who say the same thing. You know, perhaps some people are genetically predisposed to golf. That is the only explanation as to why one can be so irrational with regards to money.
I’d like to point to the three wise men of Top Gear who, in their immortal wisdom, take the absolute piss out of golf at every opportunity. In Series 18, in fact, I saw something that was truly remarkable: James May (yes, James May!) called something boring! And do you know what? It was golf! Now, as someone who models their entire image and personality on James May I can tell you that it takes quite a lot for us to find something boring. Checkmate.
It’s costly, it’s boring, and generally you look a prat whilst doing it. The folks at the Old Course may guffaw at this, assuming they read The Saint, before ordering me to be bungled into a van at golf club point but, before they do, I will say I am open to enjoying golf. Perhaps when I’m a bit greyer and a bit staler. Or maybe when I start to want a decent career.