Is there anything more stressful than packing for a golf trip?

The Scoop

In this week's Notebook Mark Townsend faces an impossible task all golfers can relate to: Having to put the right amount of clothes in a bag and remember to bring clubs

Recently I went on a nine-day family holiday where I took the following: the clothes I was wearing for the flight along with two T-shirts, three polos, two pairs of shorts, flip flops and two pairs of swimming shorts.

There were three rounds of golf planned so I also included six balls, a faltering rangefinder, 10 tees and a glove.

All quite normal behaviour other than the fact that I had run out of tops of any sort by day three, spending most of the week looking like a failed assistant pro and contemplating buying a couple of muscle tops for the first time in my life.

I didn’t. I just did some hand washing. Never the same, is it?

Fast forward to last week and a two-night trip to Scotland to play the Old Course at St Andrews and Carnoustie for a couple of media days – and a renewal with the New which I last played in 1987 when four of us celebrated finishing our O Levels. One of our party incredibly lost his virginity, the other three of us acquainted ourselves with cooking lager which we pretended to enjoy.

St Andrews 18th

So, for three rounds of golf and two days away, I met my friend and colleague with the following spilling out of various hold-alls for the golf side of things: Five pairs of socks, 15 balls, two of those small draw-string satchels for tees, both full to the brim, a spare 5-wood, waterproofs, three hats, two pairs of golf shoes, and three pairs of trousers.

Given half the chance and a car to travel in I will generally go to pieces which is based on a small degree of being disorganised but 95 per cent on panicking about every aspect of the trip.

The socks is just ludicrous. Rather than freshen up downstairs with a new pair for each round the reality is that I will slip one pair on at 7am, they will come off at 11am and, more than likely, be back on my size 11s eight hours later as they’re handy. I’m a bit more on top of things in the undercracker side of things of my wardrobe but they’re only socks and surely two days is acceptable?

Fifteen balls? We know that the Old Course shouldn’t be a huge drain on our resources given that, whatever the weather, we’ll be hitting away from any trouble which means most fairways are approximately 85 yards wide.

We also know that the New is tight in places but huge areas have been cleared out and then it opens up. As far Carnoustie, while it will no doubt get the better of me – and it did – I couldn’t recall any island greens or huge lakes that might gobble up three balls in three shots.

Two days later I returned with the same number of balls having played the same one for every shot.

If I could change three things in my life they would be to conquer my fear of flying, get over my chronic vertigo and to go into a round of golf with just six balls at a time.

Those tee satchels? Broadly nonsensical given I use a pink castle to drive and any par 3 is tackled with something broken that I find knocking about the tee area. This is a strange superstition based on thinking that the previous user of that tee might pass on some good vibes.

On the rare occasion that I hit a 4-wood or hybrid I’ll need a shortish tee so that, in a normal person’s head, should add up to five tees in total. Not 112.

New Course

I’ve been doing some extensive research on my 4-wood section of the bag – by which I mean two visits to the range – and the revolving merry-go-round has thrown out the old 5-wood to welcome in something slightly stronger and more thrusting off the tee. In truth one degree of loft has made me think that I am now Henrik Stenson.

The spare 5-wood made the trip as the 4-wood had never actually seen a golf course until smothering one down the wrong fairway at 14 and is viewed with even more suspicion than normal.

The waterproofs? Nothing too weird, well done me.

The two pairs of shoes? Bit odd given there was no rain forecast and I’ve had the pair that I would no doubt be wearing for three years so there shouldn’t be any unexpected blisters. Again, the second pair didn’t even make it out of the car.

Three hats? All bobbled. I like woolly hats. Get over it.

And finally, the trousers. This side of my brain is now almost bordering on an illness. Once upon a time I bought a very cheap and very tight pair of trousers that I once wore for a round at Bolton Old Links. When stretching to do up my laces they ripped at the seat but, given it was March and around five degrees, I simply slipped on the proofs. My playing partner didn’t even notice so irrelevant was the incident.

My behavior the past eight years is more akin to someone suffering a major trauma. I never leave the house without a spare pair in the car and always have waterproof bottoms in the bag.

This week Justin Rose had to slip down to his briefs to execute a recovery – if he were as weird as me he would have been just fine.

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