The aim of golf is quite simple; hit a small ball into a hole with the fewest shots possible eighteen times. It's an aim many don't understand the appeal of, asking why would you spend all day infuriating yourself trying to hit a small ball hundreds of yards over what is a glorified child's playground? I was non-believer too until one day I picked up a golf club and took a swing at it.
I was twelve years old and having one of those “father-son bonding” outings, which roughly translates to “mum wants the house to herself away from all the hassle in her life” days. In his infinite wisdom dad decided that what was needed was a day on the golf course. Did he not know that I belonged to the Nintendo generation? We don't do the outdoors, we do simulations of outdoor activities on the widescreen TV. Despite my protests, we were soon on the fairways on a typically grey English day.
My first attempt was a shambles. Apparently it's harder than it looks to swing a club and actually hit the ball. Nintendo hadn't helped my hand-eye co-ordination, apparently. After half a dozen attempts (and much hysteria from dad and his golfing buddies) I finally hit the ball, slicing it desperately to the left into the woods. At this point, Nintendo was still winning.
After a few disastrous early holes, ending with something ridiculous like twelve over par on each one, the game suddenly began to click with me. My tee from the 12th hole was masterly, flying the entire course to land safely just short of the green. Then disaster struck once more. As my dad took his place on the tee, his swing caught me on the side of my head and I was down for the count. This didn't diminish my enthusiasm for the game though, it may have been the concussion speaking but I was hooked!
The thing I love most about golf is the sportsmanship, a golfer's real enemy is never their opponent but the surroundings. Playing against the howling cross winds of Turnberry creates a remarkably different game to the lush greens of Taiheiyo, the challenging water hazards of The Royal Calcutta or playing in the snow.
Although infuriating at times, golf is the chance to test yourself against nature's best obstacles, keeping your composure and skill to overcome whatever challenge is thrown up against you. It's what made Padraig Harrington's British Open win at Royal Birkdale such an impressive one, overcoming a hand injury and difficult weather conditions to become the first European in 102 years to defend his title.
A walk around a golf course is a fantastic way to get exercise without thinking about it and with courses such as Cape Kidnappers, Cedar Valley, St. Andrews and Royal St. Kitts a day on the course will let you take in some of the most impressive and beautiful paradises as you try to navigate the course and try to get the ball in the hole without becoming the John McEnroe of the golf world.
If you need some help selecting the perfect course get some advice from the experts.