Sean is a regular golf club member. Or it would seem he is. He's played golf all of his life but only been a member for one year...
So I’ve played golf for the best part of all my life, it started with some lessons that my Dad purchased for my 12th birthday from the local range.
I’m not sure why as he has never picked up a club in his life – maybe he heard that it takes over four hours to complete a round and apparently I was very hyperactive as a child...
Shortly followed was a half set of Tanaka golf clubs and I was buzzing.
Only a few of my mates in the early years were into golf but none of us were junior members anywhere, back in those days you had to have yuppies as parents to get any sort of gig like that.
So we were pay and play and that’s how it stayed through my teens and twenties, public golf courses and 241 vouchers galore. We kept our own handicaps and thoroughly enjoyed the majority of golf played. Everything was great.
This was until we played at a local 'Private' course one late afternoon when they had a visitors offer on, after all we had exhausted all the local Pay and Play tracks. By this time I was in my early 30s, married and a father with grey hairs rapidly on the rise. We walked into the pro shop full of beans, well dressed and excited for an afternoon sun baked round of golf.
“Can I help you?” The 16 year old lad quizzed us from behind the desk.
“Yes we’d like to take advantage of your twilight offer…” I was abruptly cut short.
“Are you members?”
“Erm I have a AA Card…” (Thinking that the way through this was lighthearted banter)
Cut short again - “Do you have a handicap?”
“Yes I have, I’m off 15 and my friend is off 17”
“How do you have a handicap if you’re not a member?”
It was at this point I found myself arguing the toss and trying to reason about handicaps and membership with someone who had a zit the size of a golf ball throbbing on the side of his forehead, who was trying to belittle us because we didn’t hold the status of a member at a golf club.
We were about to part with the best part of £60 at 3pm, which by the abundance of spaces in the car park was largely an empty golf course. It was well publicised at that time that golf courses all over the country were closing down at the same rate of Woolworths and HMV.
It was our first experience of the snobbery that bestows many a golf club across the country. That was 5 years ago, almost to the day.
Since then I have been lucky enough to play some of the best golf courses in the world, Pebble Beach, Casa de Campo, Monte Rei and various others, not once was I quizzed about my handicap or even asked if I was a member anywhere, but always greeted with a smile and more importantly as a customer.
The point is that clubs will have (some have started) to open their doors and be more welcoming to visitors, how else will they encourage new younger membership?
With the flags flying half-mast almost daily at every club across the land they will and very quickly run out of members and will end up as over-priced housing developments with names like Links View and Fairway Mews.
Five years on and I’ve joined the same club, crazy I know but they have recently started to offer weekend only membership, which fits in nicely with burden of having to work for a living.
I'll let you know if I come across the young 20 year old with some nasty scarring on his forehead, and I'll also let you know the experiences that followed in my my very first few months as a member of a golf club.
Part two coming soon...
Likes: Sunshine, Billy Joel and Twilight Golf... anywhere
DislikeS: Rain and Patrick Reed