On my last trip back to the UK, I bought a shiny new golf club (not that it matters, but it was a putter, if you’re asking). Although not quite as garish as some of my other golfi ng attire (as anyone who has caught sight of me head to toe in fluorescent orange can testify), after brief deliberation, I purchased one of the flashier hunks of metal in the pro shop. It’s got go faster stripes and everything.
Shamefully, I’ll admit it, I was drawn in by the maker’s label more than anything else. I didn’t need a new one, and I certainly didn’t need to pay as much for one as I ended up paying.
But I wanted it. ‘When people see me walking around with this in my bag, they’ll think I’m really cool,’ was what I was thinking as I handed over a not insubstantial sum of cash. And then, even worse, I thought, ‘When people see me walking around with this in my bag, they’ll think I must be really good at golf.’ I’m not good at golf.
And that’s the problem with buying show-off sports equipment. At some point you’re going to have to use it, and unless you can back up your non-verbal claims of being your local club’s Rory McIlroy on the course, when that day comes, you’re going to look foolish. You will have literally paid money to look ridiculous.
I think it’s a common phenomenon with all amateur sports (if you’ve spent any time in a cricket dressing room you’ll have spotted the branded kit bag with at least Dhs5,000 worth of stuff in it – undoubtedly it belongs to the guy who looks like he bats with his eyes closed), but it’s particularly common with golf. Us golf enthusiasts have got it into our heads that by buying higher quality equipment we will automatically be better golfers. Of course the guys selling the top-of-theline merch will tell you the opposite, but, surprise surprise, you won’t be.
So what happened when I took my new club out onto the course for the fi rst time? The inevitable, of course. How it made its way from my bag to being passed around the dozen or so other golfers waiting on the first tee, I can’t remember. Maybe someone asked to have a look at it, maybe I volunteered it to the group looking for credit. But what I can recall is slicing my ball off the tee past the head of the golfer who happened to be holding the club at the time, through a bush and onto an adjoining tennis court where half a dozen schoolgirls were having their weekly lesson.
The silence as I grabbed the club and hastily stuffed it into my bag was deafening. Even the schoolgirls poked their heads around the hedge to watch me do the long walk of shame towards the fi rst green. One chance for acceptance, and I blew it. I’m just thankful I wasn’t wearing the orange trousers as well.
Alex Hammond is the editor of Time Out Abu Dhabi. If you see him on the golf course, stand behind him…