Gear freaks The golfer

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Also known as: tiger (good player), fox (average player), rabbit (useless player), hacker (totally unskilled player), bandit (a golfer much better than his handicap).

Numbers nationally: 3.4 million (85 per cent of them men).

Favourite locations: St Andrews and any club in the stockbroker belt, particularly the old course at Sunningdale and The Wisley (membership pounds 2,500 a year, plus an obligatory pounds 40,000 share in the golf course); the 19th hole (clubhouse bar).

Magazines: Golf World, Today's Golfer, Fore!, Golf Weekly, Golf Monthly, Golf Buyer.

Hazards: Bunkers; bushes; lakes; rain; lightning (on average, two of the five people killed every year by lightning in the UK are golfers); thieves (even second-hand clubs fetch a good price); being distracted by the adverts at the bottom of holes; being sued. A Scottish court recently awarded pounds 15,500 damages to a player injured by another's ball.

The kit: networking is as important as a good swing, so clothes must let you move freely and outbrand your rivals. Pringle or Ashworth jumpers and Callaway or Ping clubs are favourites. Each year British golfers spend pounds 155m on equipment, pounds 29m on footwear and pounds 64m on clothes. Callaway is now the sixth-fastest-growing company in the United States, and all because of Big Bertha - a metal driver Calllaway launched in 1991 and which every dedicated golfer must have (at pounds 230) each. The fact that neither a pounds 200 club nor dressing like an American tourist will improve your game is irrelevant. Golfers fall in love with their clubs. Those sleek, clean blades and slim graphite shafts do strange things to men. What other explanation can there be for those fluffy socks clubs are kept in?

The gear: Foot-Joy cushioned-sole golf and casual socks with reinforced heel and Sta-Up Comfort Cuff (pounds 12); DryJoys GX waterproof, breathable golf shoes with thermoplastic counters to accommodate the forces generated by high-powered swings (pounds 120); Sof-Joy durable gloves, made of 100 per cent cabretta leather with storage pouches (pounds 9.95); Pringle Nick Faldo Collection Trophy George baseball cap (pounds 14.95), shirt (pounds 30) and V-neck (pounds 75); and blue-check Trophy Gary trousers with tee-resistant pockets (pounds 45).

Clubs: Big Bertha War Bird Driver with stainless-steel head and 44in graphite shaft (pounds 230); Great Big Bertha Driver with titanium club head and 45in graphite shaft (pounds 250); King Cobra irons (pounds 555 for set of nine); Ping stainless-steel putter (pounds 54); Titleist Balata balls (pounds 7.50 for three); biodegradable tees (2p).

Accessories: Callaway Staff Bag with acrylic fur-pile lining, six-way club dividers and three-way full-length shaft dividers (pounds 200); Callaway Big Bertha umbrella with lightning-resistant pole (pounds 29.95).

Optional extras: caddy (pounds 15 a round); gonk club-head cover (pounds 14.95); a putter ball-sucker (why bend down when you can just suck the ball out of the hole? - pounds 1)

Ultimate gadget: Sportech Swing Analyser. This will compute from a swing of a club (no ball needed) your club-face angle, the nature of your swing and the distance the ball would have travelled, all in the comfort of your office (approx pounds 2,000).

Bare essentials: rubber golf shoes (pounds 19.99), any trousers except jeans, any shirt with a collar (pounds 20), one wood (pounds 30), four irons (pounds 64), a putter (pounds 9), a dozen "pick-up" (used) balls (pounds 5), duffle bag (pounds 14.95).

Ultimate experience: hole-in-one, closing a deal by the 18th hole; polishing your very own Big Bertha War Bird Driver.