The Hacker: Course lessons can bring even the golfing gods down to earth

 

As wee Rory discovered in July, the weather can wholly cloud your view of the game in general or of a course in particular. Play somewhere when you can't grip the club properly because your glove is so wet, or you're swaddled by layers into near-immobility, or you risk being blown over if you attempt any sort of weight transfer through your swing, or possibly all three simultaneously, and you're not going to be rushing back. Chorlton-cum-Hardy is a case in point; I'm sure the course in a south Manchester suburb is sometimes truly lovely, but all I can remember is a faceful of mud with every strike, not necessarily excluding on the greens.

There are other places that remain in the mind because the sun always seems to shine, as during endless childhood summers of the 1950s. Take King's Lynn, which twice this year has given a reminder of one of the reasons to play the game to start with: being out-of-doors, season by season, in a stunning environment.

The course, on the fringe of the Royal estates of Sandringham, was established just 36 years ago and even someone of limited experience and ability can see that designers Dave Thomas and Peter Allis got it right. Yes, there is all that technical sporting stuff, the challenge of course management, the greens with their invisible borrows. But once the white flag is inevitably hoisted on those fronts, the beauty and elegance of the silver birch and pine between which the fairways have been carved is the finest of consolations.

Back in early spring, early light dappled through nascent pale-green papery foliage on to sere dun pine straw and muted tones and patterns from a Wallander palette. Last week the late summer sun lit a contrast canvas of white bark against bright purple heather.

To revert to Royal St George's for a moment, one of the mystifying aspects of what proved to be a gripping four days was the TV commentators' insistence that the viewers would not be enjoying watching the gods of the fairways struggling so badly in testing conditions. Perhaps non-golfers who switched on only to watch the Northern Irish wunderkind win easily with miracle shots might have been disappointed, but surely anyone who has ever picked up a club will have felt, as never before, that they were involved in the same game as the great ones.

Look! He's hit out of bounds! Twice in a row!! I can do that. Hey! He's hooked it into the rough! I can play that shot! Did you see? He's three-putted from five feet! Just like me!

This is not ghoulish glee. It's just that your average hacker can't usually relate to what happens in championship tournaments. Sure, we can admire the result when Lee puts his second shot on a par five pin-high. But we can't empathise; that sort of skill is way out of reach.

Club golf is generally a disaster waiting to happen and to see the full horror transferred to the international scene was somehow gratifying. Once in a while, it's nice to be shown they're human.

We know that golf courses exist only to keep us humble and build our characters into better, more rounded human beings. And King's Lynn, for all its innocent loveliness, is no exception with its doglegs, swales, elevated greens, and slick putting surfaces. Charity day it may have been, but any generosity was one way only.

Sport
Romelu Lukaku
sportChelsea striker sends second teasing tweet of the day
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Sport
Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura sprays a line after calling for a free kick for Brazil
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz