Nice Jumper, by Tom Cox
Shocking confessions of a teenage golf fiend
Friday 07 June 2002
My perception of golfers is that they are pretty dull: no histrionics of the Roy Keane or Freddie Ljungberg variety for the likes of Faldo, Woosnam or Nicklaus. Icy self-possession seems a prerequisite for the mental discipline needed to club a small ball into a small hole a long, long way away.
But is golf cool? Former chicken decapitator Alice Cooper is an ardent player. Even sultan of style Dylan Jones, editor of GQ, furtively admits to 15 years of plodding down a fairway. However, according to Tom Cox, most golf clubs are filled "with right-wing bigots with no dress sense", the sort of caricature whose company is as welcome as your parents talking about sex.
It's during puberty that the wiring of the male psyche short-circuits and never quite reconnects. In his first teenage year, Tom Cox woke up one day and "for golf and me, it really was this simple: we found ourselves utterly, inexplicably in love". Nice Jumper is his apology for a youth misspent "amongst young conservatives sired by local textile magnates and county bridge champions". It is the Fever Putt of golf, an engaging tale of sporting obsession and adolescent fumbling for identity, of never quite reconciling Johnny Rotten tendencies with buttock-clenching golf etiquette.
Like a rash of acne, Cox's teenage years are inflamed: "Golf was life; life was golf. God was in the swish of a blade against freshly clipped turf". While most kids practice fornication and drunkenness to shock their parents, Cox was perfecting his swing and climbing the ranks of Cripsley Edge Golf Club. Much to his parents' consternation, he became a very good golfer.
It is axiomatic that, as an adolescent, what you've got you don't want. Tom Cox had parents who listened to the Ramones and Rolling Stones, a father who could recite Monty Python sketches, and a mother who would exhort him to "loosen up and get with it". Posters of existentially naked women leaning over sinks adorned the walls of his home. Little wonder Tom mutated into James Dean in plus-fours, his hormonal rush longing for the straitjacket of a blazer badge and a rule book as unbending as a two-foot putt.
That didn't stop him from "severely fucking about" in between winning junior championships and becoming a local golfing hero. His catalogue of club and equipment abuse, pranks of malicious ingenuity, "surprisingly expressive drunkenness" and frequent suspension are consistently entertaining and often extremely funny. It was when he turned up to tee-off in a T-shirt emblazoned with "Too Drunk to Fuck" that he realised his dedication was on the wane. His valediction came after sinking five pints of Red Stripe and breaking into the course to listen to the new Archers of Loaf album carrying a three-foot ghetto blaster and a sandwich bag full of dope.
"Is golf sort of like, really boring, Tom?" asks a girlfriend. "Well, yeah and no," he replies. In Cox's hands, very much the latter.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits record low as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Germany sees 'visible rise' in support for far-right extremism in response to perceived 'Islamisation' of the West