Beginners guide to golf
A GAME that elicits more controversy than any other game - from players and those who can't see the sense in chasing a little white ball around spoiling a good walk.
For those who haven't played the game, it must seem like folly to hit a ball, then follow it until you find it, then hit it away again until you finally get it in the cup.
To many golfers this is also a mystery but they keep coming back to it week after week in the hope that some sense will come of it.
Then we see the photos of golfers in their golfing clothes and wonder why any sane person would wear such outlandish gear and be seen in public - garish check-patterned trousers or a tartan to match their ancestry, usually a non-matching shirt and a cap that went out of style over a century ago.
Then there are the socks with a dissimilar checked pattern to the trousers, with black or white shoes or black and white shoes, or vice versa, and all worn with an air of superiority over the common folk as they drive down the fairways, sometimes, in their carts making a lie of the excuse "I do it for the exercise".
Then there are the clubs - 14 devices of torment for most golfers and to the non-golfer just a bag full of expensive toad launchers.
Let's take the driver, one of the most used and abused clubs in the bag and the cause of more foul language than any other item in anyone's possession.
When used correctly it's a thing of joy, with its praises sung from rooftops.
But in the hands of most weekend players, it's an instrument of torture, and the ball whizzes into places no man or woman was even meant to enter.
On one hole it will behave as though an extension of one's mind's eye visualisation of where the ball should go, only to on the next hole become a lesson in frustration and emotions that border on the homicidal or suicidal.
The three and five woods are not in the same league as the driver but can equally cause muttering under the breath that most golfing partners know is not a good time to comment on the shot, even in jest.
The irons, ahhh, the irons ... a mixture of lofted clubs designed by sadists to slice, shank, dig trenches that could be used to lay cables, hit the head off the ball, causing it to trickle a few yards, before once again we are called upon to use another iron that can a do the same thing over and over as the blood pressure rises and the good humour that started the game evaporates like fog.
And this brings us to the putter.
In the hands of a professional, a thing of beauty that propels the ball into the cup with consummate ease, whilst in the hands of the weekend player causes the ball to lip the hole, stop short, go metres past the hole or go off in tangents that defy logic - anywhere but where it's supposed to end up, in the cup.
I believe that there are more putters in garages of golfers collecting dust as they try in vain to achieve that melding of man and club for the perfect putt by buying bigger, more expensive and better putters, knowing in the back of their minds that this will also end in misery.
It's only after the game that the real phenomena of golf takes place as the players congregate in the 19th hole and regale each other of the shot that went 250m, the iron shot that landed on the green and stopped within easy putting distance, or the putt that went in on the first try.
They joke about the shots that hit trees, went across roads, ended up in people's backyards or were lost forever in the jungles of the rough or the divot (hole) dug that took a whole bucket of sand to fill, with nary an unkind word or a sense of frustration that the game somehow got the better of them.
Then plans are made to meet next week to have another go.
You see, it's not about mastering the various clubs, it's not about hitting that perfect shot time and time again, but it's about the comradeship - the fact that you aren't playing the course or your fellow players but about playing against yourself and believing that one day you too will see the ball fly to exactly where you wanted it, the iron shot will land within a foot of the hole and the putt will make that ever-so-satisfying noise as it tumbles into the cup on the first try.
To those who play the game, it's simple. To those who don't, come on down and give it a try, no one will laugh at you with derision - people will actually give you tips to improve your game and those same people will remember that shot that you made that was terrific and will probably bring you back next time.
Next week tips on stance, holding and using that all-important club, the driver.