We?re all going on a golfing holiday, no more working for a week or two. As you contemplate the clock hands crawling round to home time and the sound of rain hammering against the office window, the promise of azure skies, palm tress gleaming white bunkers and nothing to do but play golf all day with your mates is enough to make your mind wander.
Golf holidays are a rite of passage and every player should experience at least one. They reawaken the same feelings of childhood excitement first felt on the eve of a school trip to Snowdonia. Once booked up, you?ll find yourself whiling away the nights before departure buffing your clubs to a shine, selecting colour-co-ordinated outfits for each day and thumbing through the brochure, imagining how great you?re going to play, until it?s as dog-eared as a course-planner left out in the rain. But beware, golf holidays are not always all they?re cracked up to be.
As a veteran of more than a few, I have learned the hard way just how badly things can go wrong. The first thing to go west ? other than your luggage – is usually your form, which traditionally evaporates as soon as you touch down on foreign soil. Rather than rising to new heights in ideal golf conditions you rediscover the joy of shank, the art of top and the delight of the dunch. This is made doubly painful by how much you have been looking forward to your golfing week in the sun.
Coping with the disappointment of playing like a total novice is usually aided by alcohol ? vast amounts of it. And while intoxicating liquor can put a lot of things right in the short term, in the long term the hangover from hell will inevitably precipitate more of the same dross the next day.
If your game has gone missing in transit then you had better be sure about your holiday companions. However much you think you know someone you are certain to discover hidden depths when stuck in their company for a week. Nothing is worse than handing over cash from losing bet after losing bet to a person who has kept you up all night with their snoring, disgusted you with their inability to keep their dinner off their shirts or refused to put their hands in the pocket for a round of drinks. Such insights will inevitably result in regular bouts of on-course bickering that by the end of the week mean rounds played out in near silence.
Then, of course, there is the accommodation. If you chosen to spend the larger part of your budget on playing the better courses on offer, brace yourself to be assaulted by chain gangs of elderly female cleaners indulging in formation waxing of the foyer floor, taxi drivers who charge extra to put the clubs in the boot and receptionists who only respond to being spoken to incredibly slowly and loudly. A full English breakfast will generally consist of a miniscule sausage, perspiring egg substitute and bacon that looks like it might have survived the last mission of Columbus. And that?s if you?re lucky.
The sheer volume of golf played on these trips has other less than positive side effects. Endless laps of palm-fringed resort courses tend to produce blisters the size of Center Parcs, rather than swings honed to perfection. And the heat, as any male will testify, can also lead to a dreaded outbreak of GA (Golfer?s Arse), a condition that leaves the victim waddling round the course like John Wayne in calipers. Talc, nappy rash cream and non-abrasive underwear are therefore as essential items of luggage as golf shoes, polo shirts and sun-screen.
By day six you will have lost 20 balls, a wad of cash in side bets and almost your entire fund of self-esteem. Finding yourself stuck behind a five-ball of Germans in rucksacks taking to longer to complete a hole than the Chinese did to build the Great Wall will only deepen your desire to be home, or worse still, back in the office. But rest assured, the pain will pass and it will only be a matter of months before you are once again exchanging excited emails and ordering brochures.