When you realise it's time to find a hobby away from golf

The Scoop

When Mark Townsend was recently caught in a compromising position by his wife, he knew it was time for his relationship with golf to cool off a bit

Like most, I am a strange creature when on the golf course.

To give you a very brief summary of my oddities: I have gone through phases of removing the ball from the hole with a sort of hiding-the-putter-up-my-left-arm motion like Greg Norman used to do in the late ’80s; I have tried to save shots with my end of follow through like Bernhard Langer when there was no need to as because I had topped it; and I used to walk with semi-splayed feet like Nick Faldo used to.

In ‘86 I swung it like Gordon Brand, with his mid-swing pause, as well as mimicking Rodger Davis and his forward press, and I was known to simultaneously waggle and finger my hair a la Paul Way.

All before I had even turned 15.

These days you can hide behind the phrase ‘Tour Sauce’. Back then you were just a bit affected.

My behaviour now is as ludicrous as it was back then. I have yardage books and rangefinders to use as props and delay the inevitable of having to hit a shot. Plus the affectations are still there, just updated for a contemporary take on the world of golf.

In my head, my swing, hairdo and get-up is an amalgamation of Adam Scott, James Heath, Robert Rock, Jason Dufner and Eddie Pepperell while the reality is that I still play off 8 and am a podgy 47-year-old with flexibility and occasional dandruff problems.

I can deal with all this because I’ve had more than 30 years to come to terms with what a terrible twat I am on a golf course.

This is my little playground where I can act abnormally and wear strange clothes and say ridiculous things and it will all be perfectly acceptable. There are a lot of us about – men, women and children – in our favourite pastel outfits, lucky baseball caps and animal headcovers.

What goes on at the golf club, stays at the golf club.

The Open

Unfortunately my irregular behaviour has long begun to stray outside the perimeter walls. A few weeks ago I had a Saturday tee time of 12.30pm and no children to tend to from 11am. So, using my time wisely, I had a clear out of my tees – castles, long and broken all in their own separate piles – and went to Aldi to buy some nappies and wipes.

In my golf clothes.

Worse still, I traipsed up and down the aisles in spiked shoes, waterproof trousers, a logoed top and a bobble hat.

I’ve done this before. I’ve stopped for petrol in my golf attire, once with the hint of my glove still showing in my back pocket, and I’ve even been for a pint in an actual pub in my golf clobber. But on these occasions I didn’t really have a choice – save for the glove incident – as I had no other clothes.

But the Aldi display was before a round and I was out there, loud and proud, in my golf clothes. Could I not have left 10 minutes earlier, worn some relatively normal clothes and put my outer layers on in the locker room or car park?

By way of getting a shot back, one huge breakthrough is that I now simply wear ‘normal’ trousers or cords to play golf in, which has made me a far happier person.

I can now leave behind the whole world of the black/grey/navy slack with awful piping forever and just wear a stylish chino that M&S are knocking out for 15 quid a pair.

No stretchy fabrics or pleats to contend with, just a simple trouser. If you play cricket you will likely have to wear some white flannels but this isn’t the case with golf. Enjoy it.

Trousers aside, I feel quite warm and fuzzy inside when I get to wear my favourite jacket or polo.

On holiday recently, the night before a round I was caught in the bathroom by my wife admiring myself in my all-time No. 1 polo shirt.

To complete the shambolic look, I then found myself going through a series of swings in the same mirror. Firstly broken down into a slow-motion move by intricate move, before building up to one final, explosive, exit left, power-packed, real-time climax.

I’m not sure how long she had been standing there but I suspect that she witnessed the whole sorry episode.

I don’t suppose this is what she thought she had signed up for – a tubby man well into his 40s in just his boxer shorts and a top that only he thinks looks good and an imaginary golf club.

I knew the look on her face well – it was the same as the girl on the till at Aldi.

I need to have more interests. I need to get out more.

And, when I do get out, I need to dress accordingly.

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