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Claire Kane on the strange rituals we have with golf balls

Claire Kane on the strange rituals we have with golf balls

...and why it's not a good idea to give them a "go faster lick"
 

This is the time of year when greenkeepers carry out their autumn maintenance of hollow-tining, using vast amounts of sand so we end up ploughing through ‘Yellows’ rather than putting on ‘Greens’.

It’s also when they fertilise parts of the course and the amusing warning notices appear reminding members ‘Not to lick their balls’.

Personally, I’ve never felt the urge to give any of my balls a ‘go faster’ lick, which is the misguided theory behind the action. For a start, my wayward balls see far too much evidence of bunnies and vermin on the course and, secondly, I would prefer to maintain the health of my liver for more civilised pleasures such as visiting the 19th hole rather than exposing it to poison from herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers and end up with ‘Golf Ball Liver’. Yes, this really is a disease recognised by the medical profession!

Now, I’m aware golf clubs these days try to use more natural products to feed the course but I was once stuck for hours in a traffic jam behind a tanker full of effluent fertilizer. The lorry displayed a big notice on the back stating it was non hazardous but my bored brain definitely came to the conclusion that just because something’s natural doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Continuing on the subject of golf balls, many golfers, including professionals, feel the need to shout at their ball, hoping the power of their voice will telepathically guide it to their desired destination rather like steering a car.

A friend of mine was once playing a few holes with her newly-trained Jack Russell dog secured to her trolley with a lead. At one point she struck the ball really well but soon realised it was heading straight through the green and off the other side.  Caught up in the emotion of the moment, she automatically shouted ‘sit, sit, sit’ but, whereas the ball completely ignored her requests to settle on the green, her dog on the other hand obediently sat down by the trolley, looking up at her in utter puzzlement as to why she kept shouting commands at him.

Mind you, as someone recently pointed out to me, it’s no use shouting at your ball anyway as they always chop their ears off at the factory.

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