One of the many attractive facets of playing golf regularly is that you can look like a top golfer even if you can’t play like one. All the smart and colourful shirts and trousers you see on television being worn by our heroes in the big tournaments can be purchased by the most wretched of hackers.
You can wear the same gleaming shoes, carry the same shiny clubs, and proceed stylishly towards the first tee. Sadly, the illusion will not survive long once you get there and play your first shot.
Of course, this charade is difficult during the winter months which are not conducive to light garments in pastel shades. Often the contrast is alarming and the way some winter golfers dress is a disgrace. In wet weather they can look like deck hands on a fishing trawler.
I confess that comfort, dryness and warmth are my main priorities and I tend to look pretty scruffy, wearing the same mud-spattered clothes week after week. There are those who look a lot worse but they do so in the summer, too.
But some golfers work hard on their appearance whatever the weather. One of my regular playing partners, Andy, is certainly in that category. He is a very natty dresser at any event and he sees no reason why he shouldn’t be sartorially suitable for winter golf as well.
We played together in a four-ball pairs Stableford last Saturday and I couldn’t help noticing the difference in our dress. Over my long-sleeved undergarment I had a frayed red polo-neck and a heavily stained sweater. My shoes hadn’t been cleaned for weeks and my corduroy trousers were covered in muddy marks where I had been cleaning my ball because I keep forgetting to put a towel on my bag.
Andy could have just stepped off a male models’ catwalk. A neatly arranged and expensive looking polo-neck under a cream sweater which looked like cashmere and a pair of pristine black trousers with a knife-edged crease.
Despite the course being still very wet, it was the first time in weeks that buggies were allowed and Andy agreed to share one to save my old legs.
The club has started to construct a network of cart-paths which is helping to stop buggies sliding all over the place but on our steep second hole I mistakenly left the path to get nearer the green.
When we got back in to go the third tee, the back wheels started spinning and the buggy was going nowhere. Andy got out to give it a push and I shouted at him to be careful of the mud being splashed back.
Too late. As the buggy lurched forward, the wheels cruelly spattered his trousers and when I reached the path I looked back to see him ruefully examining his ruined elegance.
Fortunately, he saw the funny side and joined in the laughter. I suggested it would all brush off when it dried. ‘Can you wash those?‘ I asked.
‘They’ve just been washed,’ he said. ’I only ironed them this morning’
His sweater had also collected some mud so he took that and donned a jerkin. I consoled him with the fact that he now looked more like the rest of us.
Together with the weather, which was glorious, it turned out to be the high spot of mundane morning.
I’d started well, scoring six points on the first two holes but I managed only 17 more on the next 16 holes. I hit enough decent shots to encourage me but I found it difficult to score.
Andy, who plays off 28 like me, did a little better, scoring 25 to my 23 for an aggregate 48 points.
Our playing partners, Max and Spencer, were five shots better at 53 but we were both miles behind the winning total of 76.
Due to the damp conditions there wasn’t much run on the ball but we were playing clean and place through the green and we all felt we should have done a lot better.
But at least we were out playing in the sun and spring can’t be far away. And Andy is not likely to ride in a buggy with me again.