The Ryder Cup is back and once again has me wondering what golf is all about. Don’t get me wrong, I have been a member of a golf club myself and have wandered the fairways only to come off the other end with regular feelings of despondency only rarely spiked with ones of satisfaction. But that satisfaction is itself questioned as my achievement has hardly been through the achievement of a goal I have set myself, but the achievement of a goal set by others - those that set the rules in the first place. Golf is like a drug, it messes you up, wastes hours, turns your brain to mush but now again teases you with enough of a high to want to have a another go at it.
At the risk (no, i mean intention) of upsetting the purist it is time that the rules of the Royal and Ancient are dramatically updated to produce a sport which is not only more fun to play but also to watch as it is currently only one level up from watching snooker in black and white.
There appears to be some irony in what golf clubs have become. Despite their throwbacks to grand upper-class institutions, with their interior design strongly nodding towards Victorian hunting lodges (even if they are located in 1980s brick supermarket style buildings) and with their inane rules that challenge those of the most peculiar of English public schools, most of the cars in the carparks around here are taxis. The drivers are not delivering, they are playing.
With the number of players still falling (one of our local ones has closed down and returned to arable land) it is probably time to bust down the doors of the establishment and introduce our own new order and to do so I will present them in the format of my own dream golf club -
Welcome to 'Polemic Dales'. Golfing as it should be.
The Rules -
Rule 1 - No w@nkers.
Rule 2 - Only 7 rules.
Rule 3 - Bad shots to be greeted with howls of derision from fellow players rather than smug suggestions for improvement or sympathetic hissed intakes of breath.
Rule 4 - No out of bounds.
Rule 5 - Overtaking allowed, overtaken party to keep clear and it is up to them if they wish to take cover or not.
Rule 6 - Use of trackable balls (lent out free at reception) compulsory.
Rule 7 - Any type of club allowed, even ones you have invented (including snooker cues for the greens).
New game play variants -
Foot golf - We’ve been beaten to it already see here.
Speed golf - It's not the number of shots that count but the time you can complete all holes in. Can be expanded to take in cycle-golf.
Limited shot golf - You only have as many shots as the par for the course. Your brass plaque is pinned in the ground at the furthest point reached and is only moved on once you improve upon it.
Only par golf - You can move on to the next hole if you parred the previous one, otherwise it's back to the beginning after a 20 minute time out in the bar. We would suggest each course has at least ten first holes. The 18th hole will have a rarely used champagne bar off the green.
Cross country pub to pub golf - Having tried this I can only say that it is brilliant.
Throwing golf - Not a master of the club? You can throw the ball or gently bowl it on the greens.
Mortar golf - Golf ball diameter small mortars are used to propel the balls. It is up to players to set the trajectory and chose the size of the mortar charge.
Drone ball - For the young tech-savvy, UAVs (without camera aid) are used to fly and drop the ball. The operator can only stand at the point of ball pick up and use line of site.
The Committee -
The following will be excluded. Middle ranking accounts managers with a penchant for petty rules. Retired company directors. Anyone who drives a Lexus or Jaguar, or who's last holiday was a cruise.
Club House -
No tartan to be visible, no green in the carpets, no wood cladding, no dress code. Women not only allowed but compulsory. Michelin restaurant attached onsite at one end, BBQ grill the other. Large night club attached with top DJs in the evening (these places are miles from anywhere built up so no noise complaint problems). Maitre’d who is really good at his job, knows all members and introduces them to each other so they get to know each other. Staff to be polite and helpful and not tell stories about their time in the war/driving coaches/playing golf/running a bed and breakfast. Free shuttle bus to take members home to avoid drink-driving problem.
Of course the club would welcome any other fun suggestions. If your response to the above is one of disgust and a "Sorry sir, but it's tradition" - Well so was slavery, but we managed to change that with the times.