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The Independent Online
Rowley Leigh, 47, chef at Kensington Place restaurant, London W8

Nine years ago, before I started playing, I thought golf was desperately suburban - a game for boring people in car-coats - but now I absolutely enjoy it. I know the people who play are awful, but it doesn't demerit what used to be quite a civilized game.

It's a nice walk, and you can play entirely against yourself. The whole point is to have an inner calm - very Zen, because you can't really control how you feel or how you're going to play. Anyone who plays competitively against other people is completely mad.

Proper golf is a good country game, and it doesn't matter how bad you are - at least once in a round you're going to hit a shot as good as Nick Faldo or Seve Ballesteros. And when you do it's sheer exhilaration.

My partners have a sort of team called Hack in the Bush Club, and we all cheat like hell by giving each other free shots. If you muff your drive you get another go. We do stretch the rules a little bit, as I quite often miss the ball completely.

I like to play on Sunday afternoons in Deauville, where it is incredibly difficult to get on the course. There's always a huge crowd milling round, waiting for their tee-time, which is the allotted six-minute span to start off. When I eventually got on last time, my first ball hit a barn door. There was a huge clattering bang, and anybody who hadn't actually been watching knew what had happened. But I'm so bad that I'm impervious to humiliation.

I play on Wimbledon Common, and whenever I'm about to make a shot, I'll always hear someone in the background screaming "Come here, Rowley!" which is incredibly off-putting. Ever since East-enders, everybody's called their dog Rowley.

From Wimbledon Common, take the district line to High Street Kensington, and then it's a pleasant walk up Kensington Church Street to the delights of the Kensington Place Restaurant and bar.

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