Why Brexit negotiators should try a golf trip

The Scoop

Two years to sort Brexit? We've just ranked England's 100 best golf courses in seven months. Get in a car and have it out, writes our Foghorn

“These courses won’t rank themselves you know.” The oft-repeated reason I have given to my wife this year for disappearing on another extremely important trip to visit courses on the long-list for our upcoming England’s Top 100 Courses 2018 ranking feature.

I politely explain for the umpteenth time that we are producing a list with an unprecedented level of rigour and it is very important that we see it through.

She sighs a heavy sigh. I can only assume she is troubled by the inherent difficulty of judging a heathland against a downland.

Despite these rather downbeat send-offs I continue, unabashed, once more into the breach.

We have to get this list right. Once the decision is made there will be no second referendum.

If we put David Davis and Jean-Claude Juncker behind the wheel of a car, I reckon they would get Brexit sorted before they reached the Watford Gap

Our latest trip involved a 6am alarm and a five-hour drive from Leeds to Goodwood. The following morning the alarm was set for 5.45am. Another hour and half in the car was followed by 36 holes, with no break I might add, at East Sussex National. From there we travelled another two hours to Newbury, obviously. The following morning we were on the road again at 7am to play the Blue course at Frilford Heath followed by the brilliant Tadmarton Heath.

Our eventual arrival back in Leeds was 9pm – 64 hours, 90 holes and several hundred miles later.

All this with only Premier Inn breakfasts and Indians that equal the number of nights away for sustenance.

Tough work, but someone has to do it.

Otherwise how on earth are YOU going to know whether or not a parkland in the West Midlands is better than a Cornish links? It is this kind of slavish dedication to the cause that will help make this country great again.

Car journeys are a significant and often-overlooked element of these ill-conceived trips. Almost as much time is spent behind the wheel as it is out on the golf course.

The world’s problems could be solved in a car journey. If we put David Davis and Jean-Claude Juncker behind the wheel of a (British-manufactured) car, I reckon they would get Brexit sorted before they reached the Watford Gap.

You are forced to talk to your co-pilot, as a good passenger will resist the temptation to gawp at their phone. Listening to music with another person present is really weird. You can’t just walk off. The only option is actual conversation.

My friend and colleague Dan Murphy and I are well versed in the structure of these conversations. There is normally an unformulated work agenda to get through, then we like to compete at media-student level on an analysis of the issues of the day.

Dan asked me somewhere near Basingstoke if I thought we had reached rock bottom in EU negotiations. I was a bit taken aback as at the time I was trying to decide whether to give The Brabazon an 8 or a 9 for course conditioning.

West Midlands

We pay lip-service to the wellbeing of each other’s families and then we talk about our other friends. This is an interesting section because we have one each. I have a neighbour who is a doctor while there’s a policeman in Dan’s village. We discuss the properness of their jobs, their contributions to society, the difficulties facing the public sector and wonder how they would go about separating Hunstanton from Brancaster.

We were getting tired by this stage – 36 holes, an unsatisfactory lunch in the halfway house and three hours in the car had taken its toll.

So we called in on my brother whose house we were passing. He works in financial services and manages millions of pounds worth of investments. Anyway we couldn’t stay long because we had to get back to our Premier Inn to get on with filling out our course ranking spreadsheet, not to mention send at least three tweets.

My brother seemed to be happy settling in for a few beers. Clearly his work is just a bit of fun, important in his own mind, but probably just a bit silly, really.

We have set ourselves a deadline of October 31, at which point we must have reached agreement on the details of our Top 100.

Beyond that cliff edge will lie only your opinion on our work. Then we will really see how important it is.

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