Clive’s Commentary: “Next On the Tee; Me, Myself and I”

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Fortunately, an early morning flood had discouraged most of the regulars so there weren’t very many people about as I slipped my Fiat into a prime slot on the front row. I boldly changed my shoes in the parking lot, a practice regarded by many as far worse than cheating. Then, without looking back, I strode over to the unoccupied first tee and I was off… alone… hallelujah!

After walking approximately 290 yards down the middle of the fairway and just before reaching my ball, I noticed a couple teeing off at the second. No problem. I would simply take my time and hit at least one other ball so as not to appear to be pressing them. However, the rather-too-gentle progress did begin to irritate me a touch and so, half-way down the fifth, I conceded myself a 145-yard approach for an eagle two, marked down pars at the tricky 6th and awkward 7th, threw a withering glance at the geriatric four ball causing the hold-up and walked across to the vacant eighth tee. Hee! Hee!

It was more than fun; it was glorious. How tediously conventional and unimaginative it is to play the holes in the same dull order every time. How much more creative and liberating it is to think to yourself, “I fancy a par five.” And if there’s a hole where you didn’t really do yourself justice, the sensible thing is to so arrange your round that you have the opportunity to play it again and achieve redemption.

And why play 18 when you might only have time for 14 or, more likely since you will be having so much fun, really fancy 22? Great game though it undoubtedly is, golf is far too constrained by convention. And the etiquette is all too time-consuming. If my ball is on the green, I want to walk straight to it and not pick my way through a minefield of other people’s putting lines.

All the rules of golf, which are in any case needlessly oppressive, are suspended when you are on your own. If you miss the discipline, simply substitute others that are both more sensible and tolerant. For example, shots hit where you weren’t properly concentrating or were distracted can be retaken without penalty. And not only can you give yourself as many Mulligans as you want, but you also don’t have to elect which ball is the one ‘in play’ until you have completed the hole.

But the real joy of solo golf is the glorious isolation. What an enormous waste of time it is watching someone else struggling to hit a ball when you could be struggling to hit one yourself. Apart from anything else, playing on your own obviates the necessity to keep saying ‘hard luck’ and, worse still, ‘good shot.’ Furthermore, you don’t have to look for your playing partners’ balls or hear about the unseasonably shocking weather they suffered on holiday, their bunions, the turbulent stock market, the price of gas, global warming or the forthcoming Presidential election.

Having no one to admire your immense drives, solid irons or delicate chips is a small price to pay for not having to hang around waiting for others to make up their minds about what club they’re going to miss-hit. And, if you must have competition, then play two balls against one another. You versus your alter ego always makes for an interesting clash. At least one of you should go home happy.

And you can go home whenever you like, which is immediately after the final putt is sunk. You don’t have to shower, put on a stained tie and moth-eaten jacket and sit around for hours sipping warm beer and being bored by your playing partner’s painfully detailed account of his second round defeat in the Captain’s Cup.

Despite the fact that it’s rather oxymoronic, I’m thinking of starting a Solos Society. Although I’m not sure how clubs would feel about, say, a dozen golfers requiring a dozen tee times, but we might be welcomed by uncrowded courses with inadequate facilities wanting to look quite busy but who can’t ordinarily handle the volume.

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