I’ve never written about golf before. It is, after all, a ridiculous sport, played by people with a masochistic streak and a toddler’s sense of fashion, who spend more time walking after the ball than actually playing it.
Watching golf warps time. You switch on the telly on Friday and before you know it the weekend’s over and… absolutely… nothing… has… happened.
Playing it requires a whole new level of perversion. One tiny chink in your self-belief and golf will zone in on it like a heat-seeking missile. It’s a game that invites self-flagellation and rampant club abuse.
And yet, when it goes right, there’s nothing more satisfying.
Setting aside putt putt, for which I have a reasonable if sporadic talent, I have only ever played nine holes of grown-up golf. Eight and three quarters of them were complete rubbish.
But at the tee shot on the sixth, I hit the ball so sweetly I thought I was having a religious experience.
It was when I tried to repeat the shot on the seventh, eighth and ninth holes that I understood how people can lose their mind playing this game. Recognising the addictive possibilities — and before I could convince myself that chequered duds might actually look good on me — I walked away, or hobbled as much as my twisted back would allow, and hung up the golf clubs for good.
But the main reason I haven’t written about golf is that, from an Australian perspective anyway, there hasn’t been a reason to. It’s been 17 years since Greg Norman reigned as the sport’s top practitioner and in between there’s been little cause for Aussie cheering.
Since the Great White Shark, we’ve had Steve Elkington, Stuart Appleby, Geoff Ogilvy, Aaron Baddeley and Robert Allenby. Top blokes, all of them, from what I can ascertain, and among them a couple of world top threes. But basically the Tim Henmans of Aussie golf, players on whose shoulders great expectations have unfairly rested without hope of ever being fully realised.
To add insult to injury, in the women’s game we had the great Karrie Webb at a time when there was no rankings system for the fairer sex.
So it’s been a long time between drinks. A generation in fact.
In the meantime, there’s been a bloke called Tiger Woods, known for his birdies on and off the course, who since August 1999 has hogged the number one position for a colossal 673 weeks — yes, almost 13 of the past 14 and a half years — with the odd break for poor form or bad behaviour.Embed from Getty Images
But now, not one but two Aussie players are knocking on the door of greatness. This week, Adam Scott had the opportunity to wrest the number one spot from Tiger’s clutches. He needed to win the WGC Cadillac Championship in Miami and have Tiger finish lower than fifth.
Tiger, doubled over with back spasms, kept his end of the bargain and came 25th. Trouble is, so did Scotty, while an upstart named Patrick Reed, donning the black pants and red shirt Tiger typically wears on a Sunday, walked away with the prize.
So it didn’t pan out for us this time. But you get the sense it will. In the immortal words of Rachel Hunter flogging a certain hair product: “It won’t happen overnight but it will happen.”
Also in the mix is Jason Day, who just a couple of weeks ago rose to number four in the world after the biggest win of his career. Add in a resurgent Karrie Webb and I reckon we’ve got ourselves an Aussie golfing renaissance.
So we can overlook the bad dress sense — except in the case of serial offender Rickie Fowler. We can tolerate the interminable nature of the game. We can bear the epic frustration that goes with being a fan on the Sunday of a major. Suddenly golf’s not such a bad game after all.
Because we’ve got a Tiger in our sights.