Simon Kelner: Far from exclusive, the golf club is the great leveller

Kelner's view


I have incurred the wrath of one or two golfing friends with my column about the Masters champion Bubba Watson the other day in which they felt I had characterised the game of golf as being exclusive, out-of-date and misogynistic.

Nothing, they said, could be further from the truth. At my club, one of them said, they even let women play at the weekend! I do realise that my portrayal was a harsh one.

I am myself the member of a golf club in Oxfordshire which is so demotic that sometimes when I park my car, mine's the only one without a ladder on the top of it. My regular partner Disco Dave (a hero of i columns passim) drives a lorry for the MoD when he's not spinning the platters at a wedding or birthday party, while One-eyed Eddie is the county's leading asbestos expert and, when anyone asks him what he – a Glaswegian – is doing down here, replies simply: "Missionary work." The other member of our foursome, Digby the Irish vet, will generally have castrated several domestic pets – even some who had been brought to him for a vaccination – before applying the same clinical precision to his golf. Indeed, so devoid of airs and graces is my golf club that they have just stationed a Wall's Ice Cream sign by the entrance to attract passing custom. Most clubs in the area have a rather less welcoming notice: "Private", or "Riff Raff Keep Out", or words to that effect.

The point of all this is to say that when I'm among my golf mates, they are not the least impressed by what I do or who I know. The metropolitan world of media engages their interest about as avidly as if I were talking about farmers in the mountains of Peru. It has been like this for some time. Until recently, that is, when one of our number, in between complaining about the price of a pint at his local and telling us how much he hated George Osborne (the two things may, in truth, be related), turned to me and said that he thought my output of a column every day was rather impressive.

"I don't know how you think of something to write about every day," he said. I replied that, while it is not like a real job (ie. the one he had), it is indeed difficult sometimes to find subjects to write about.

I go through life hoping that something will happen to me that may inspire a few words and maybe even a thought or two. A tourist asking for directions? Could that make a column? An overheard conversation? Perhaps. A colleague who ploughed a similar furrow to me wanted his column to be called "Two jokes and a generalisation", and while I like to think I have slightly higher aspirations (although two seems a high joke count), there are times when you have to admit that the well is almost dry. And at that point the only answer is to take a break and recharge the creative batteries. Which is a long-winded way of saying that I'm off on holiday. I'll be back soon with more generalisations, and possibly even a joke.

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