It’s a curious tradition of our sport that your finest moment on the course can end up costing you. But is it bad form to resist? Steve Carroll risks your wrath
It was an 8-iron. One hop and in. After quarter of a century of near misses, I’d finally done it. I still have the ball that brought that my first and, to date, only hole-in-one.
My playing partner and I celebrated. I walked triumphantly to the flag for the ritual posing and the eight million photographs that are obligatory when anyone has an ace.
The smile on my face was wide. Until the passing group on the next tee, people whom I’d never met before and have never seen since, began shouting out their drink orders.
Perhaps they were serious. Perhaps it was in jest. But it got my back up nonetheless. Congratulations, you’ve just taken a little of the shine off my finest moment on a course.
Before we get into the hows and whys of whether I was essentially a golfing grinch, and what you might do in similar circumstances, some context for you.
I was a visitor in unfamiliar lands. It was not my home course and my reaction, as you’ll find out in a second if you’ll please just keep reading, would have been very different had that been the case.
The clubhouse was packed with strangers. What did I do? Did I quench the thirst of a room full of people I didn’t know and have never seen again? Did I heck. I brought my pal a well-earned pint, we sunk our beers, and hot-footed it out of dodge.
Some of you will, no doubt, now be cross. Golfing tradition may no longer dictate that you need to buy every single person in the clubhouse a drink – there were more than 100 in there and it would have bankrupted me – but I’m sure many of you would have stumped up for a bottle of scotch on the bar and several glasses.
Toast my success, and at my expense? You can keep that. And don’t start talking to me about insurance either.
I personally equate hole-in-one cover with the people who occasionally turn up at my door, tell me my roof needs re-pointing, and they just so happen to have a spare slot in their diary where they can fix it. Well, lucky me. How can I resist?
Pretty easily as it turns out – given the chances of finding the cup with a perfect shot are approximately one in 12,500. You might spend your whole life shelling out to… not have to shell out. What’s the point?
So am I a bad person? Maybe you’ve already made up your mind but let me at least try to redeem myself.
I think when it comes to providing a post hole-in-one bevvy, the situation you find yourself in is paramount.
If I were ever to notch a second – it was a long time ago and the golfing gods have not let me get anywhere close since – and it was at my home club, I’d open the wallet and let out the cobwebs without hesitation.
What’s the difference? People you know, for a start. Familiarity does not breed contempt as far as I am concerned. It’s the be all and end all.
In a friendly clubhouse full of good pals and acquaintances, I will welcome the opportunity to reward those with a penchant for a neat whisky. It will only make that post hole-in-one grin wider.
But if you’re twisting your face because I’m not inclined to let you freeload off me when I’m on my travels, it’s probably best to steer clear.
Some of you may argue that too many traditions are being eroded in the game of golf but, in this day and age, the compulsion and accompanying guilt that sometimes surrounds this one should really be consigned to history.
Ultimately, it should be down to you. No one should judge you for your decision.
If you want to give the clubhouse a celebratory treat, stand at the bar and ring the bell. All power to you. However, if you only want to satisfy the appetite of the players in your group, that should be up to you.
And if you want to skip town like you’re being chased by a gang of heavies, well I won’t be judging you. The choice is yours.
What do you think? Is buying hole-in-one drinks part of what makes golf great, or what lengths have you taken to avoid coughing up for a monumental bar bill? Tweet me and let me know.
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