Some years ago I met with a tennis-playing friend for a drink, when he commented, in a rather superior manner I felt, on my beer drinking.
At the time I had not yet gone on the wagon and was still using alcohol, while his attention was engaged with a designer-label mineral water of what appeared to be a rather dubious and very local origin. His remark prompted a heated debate about the athletic merits of our respective sports.
I was holding my own in the face of his list of in-play golfing sins – including smoking and drinking, and driving around the course in ‘little hobbit-sized cars’ – but I confess that I was initially undone by his jibes about the halfway house.
‘What is it with you golfers anyway with this halfway house business?’ he demanded.
‘I mean, we don’t stop after a set of tennis for steak, egg and chips with a side order of salad! And you won’t see soccer or rugby players tucking into a chicken mayonnaise sandwich with curly fries – they’re lucky to get a couple of orange segments to sustain them through the second half.’
At this point I must request that if anyone knows any golf club that serves really good curly fries with anything, it is their immediate public duty to pass this information on to the editorial staff at Estate Living. STAT!
‘Anyway,’ he sneered, ‘isn’t halfway house some sort of a prison thing – like a rehab facility for criminals to prepare them for the real world?’
He had a point … in that even if, rather like airline food, the fare at most halfway houses has improved immeasurably, we are not yet far enough removed from the days of the almost criminal soggy pie and lumpy gravy with flaccid chips that was sadly the staple at too many golf clubs.
In the interests of our debate and holding up our end, however, I didn’t flinch and after a quick mental regroup consolidated my position around the cerebral challenges and fatigue associated with a non-reflex ball game that lasts over four hours – and the consequent necessity of the halfway house. As, without some decent sustenance after nine holes, many golfers would be unable to make it to the 18th hole.
I think that the coup de grace, at least in terms of our debate, came with my observation that given the performance of most of our rugby and soccer teams (compared with those of our nation’s golfers who were brought up on halfway house fare) this could beg the question that maybe a nice toasted sarmie and some chips at half time should be mandatory at these other ball games!
I also argued that he didn’t – every time he stepped onto the court – play five sets like professional tennis players do at their Major events, but that we poor golfers have to toil around full-length championship golf courses that were built for the pros.
What couldn’t be argued against, however, is that the loss of the walking element in the game has been particularly poignant both in terms of the connection to the game itself, and the health benefits associated with walking.
This loss is especially relevant for those of us who are now over the hill – and perhaps languishing in that other ‘halfway house’ between full-time work and retirement – and who are in dire need of the benefits that this simple perambulatory activity can bring.
Many of the modern course designs really are very long, and also have too much dead ground between each hole, so many golfers find they can’t comfortably walk a full 18 holes. But there’s a great alternative. Leave your golf cart in the garage at least once a week and just play nine holes.
You can do this with only five clubs, which can be carried comfortably. Not only will your heart, circulation and blood pressure say ‘thank you’, but so will your golf game as you learn to manufacture shots, be more strategic in your play and get back in real touch with the golf course itself!