Being denied golf serves only to make me think about it constantly and pine for certain things… By Richard Russell
What I Miss About Golf During Lockdown
Unpleasant tension and nervous pressure
Well, who knew?
It seems that the part of golf that makes me anxious is also the part that makes it special.
It’s weird, but I miss that fear.
The fear of looking a chump.
The nerves that come when you have to play a shot that really, really matters.
The gnawing dread that settles over you when your foursomes partner plays a fantastic fairway wood to just four feet, and instead of thinking, “Yay! What a shot!” you’re thinking, “Cripes! What if I miss it?”
Hurry back, knotted stomach.
The first 200 yards down the 1st fairway
When my smile is truest and my step is springiest.
Those first few jaunty strides are bursting with possibility and anticipation.
But it’s not just the fact that I might… possibly… you never know… play really well today.
For me, that first minute of the round is also a strangely mystical moment when all seems well with the world.
Boy, do I miss that.
Carrying my trusty golf bag
It’s like I’ve had my favourite jacket confiscated.
When I slip into those straps, the bag becomes a part of me.
Not so much a golf bag, more of a detachable hunchback with snacks and drinks.
Wearing it makes me feel armed and dangerous.
I’m that Marvel Avenger superhero guy with his lethal bow and arrows, stored in a trusty quiver on his back and ready to be unleashed against the forces of evil with deadly accuracy.
Or I could slice it.
After months of lockdown, the sofa cushions have moulded themselves around my slumped shape.
On the rare occasions I get up, it looks like I’m still there.
I’m desperate for proper exercise and my body misses golf almost as much as my mind.
A game of golf is a six-mile walk, and walking is the best all-round exercise the body can get.
It strengthens the heart, lowers blood sugar, eases joint pain, boosts immunity, improves mood and reduces stress.
Hell, it probably even increases the size of your manhood.
A walk to the shops is all well and good, but you can’t beat an 18-hole yomp.
While I would never wear white trousers around the house – I’m not Sting – I wear them on the golf course whenever the sun comes out.
And during lockdown my discarded white trousers are a visible reminder that golf is off limits.
I open my cupboard and they look hopefully up at me like dogs wanting exercise.
“Sorry, boys,” I say. “No golf today.”
Until the day comes when I fling open the cupboard, noisily waggle my golf belt and say the magic word: “Walkies!”
The little pre-golf rituals
The anticipation of golf is all part of the game’s pleasure.
And the little things I do in the build-up before a round just ramp up the excitement.
The ever-optimistic checking of the weather forecast; watching ladies golf on telly so their smooth-swinging tempo might find its way into my own swing by osmosis; the reverential laying out of my golf clothes the night before; the panicky hunt for my waterproof trousers ten minutes before leaving the house.
And, of course, the gentle stroking and caressing of my favourite rescue club when no-one’s looking.
The things I eat and drink at a golf club that I don’t ever eat or drink anywhere else
A Gunner. A bacon roll. Dry roasted peanuts. A glass of Kummel. (What even is Kummel? No-one knows.) A sausage sandwich and an iced coffee at the halfway hut.
Why don’t I have any of these things outside of golf?
Because they wouldn’t taste the same.
So, yes, okay, they make you want to chew off your own knuckles, but trying to solve the mystery of bad shots is, perversely, the best bit about golf.
No, honestly. Bear with me, caller.
It is said that the secret of happiness is ‘to be working towards a goal’.
Well, that’s golf, isn’t it?
And I really miss that eternal pursuit of a better shot.
Frankly, if I’m not actively searching for the secret of golf, then who am I?
Related: The best golf drivers 2021
AND ONE THING I DON’T MISS:
I wear them only in the rain. I don’t like them. I don’t get them. I look stupid wearing them.
My large head doesn’t fit them.
I’m not bald, so I’ve no bare patch to protect.
At breezy old Rye, they blow off every few seconds.
They’re now just a shameless corporate marketing space.
Seriously… caps: who needs them?
Richard once read a review of his golf book that described him as ‘The Bill Bryson of Golf’. He has never found that review again, and nobody believes him.