It amazes me that my husband has watched the Ryder Cup on TV every night this week and the tournament only started today. Apparently the build up is really important.
In truth, the Ryder Cup is probably the most interesting tournament there is for a golf layperson like myself and we all know that there are a lot to choose from. After all, there are only three certainties in life: death, taxes and continuous coverage of golf tournaments on Sky Sports. I am not completely disinterested – I have some awareness that I must have acquired by osmosis: I know my foursomes from my fourballs; I know the names of the four majors; I know that Rory McIlroy won $10 million for playing a game of golf last weekend. I even went to huddle under an umbrella in 2011 at the final day of the Open on the Kent coast, hanging like a dog after being a bridesmaid in Dorset the day before. Now that’s commitment to the cause.
So what’s the beef with golf? Firstly, it’s the time commitment, whether you’re watching it or playing it. Golf clubs are only positioned at least an hour’s drive from where you live, preferably somewhere windswept on the coast (why?); if you factor in the drive, the 18 holes, the time spent at the 19th hole afterwards, it’s a good day out. For him. For me, it’s a bit dull: he has the car and I have three young children to entertain at home or in the immediate vicinity.
It wasn’t always thus. Pre-children, we both enjoyed our Saturdays pursuing our own hobbies, although mine tended to focus on shopping or lunching with friends. More fool me: these pursuits are the first to fall by the wayside when children enter the picture. I expect I should have taken up a ‘proper’ hobby, such as, I don’t know, learning how to iron maybe, that would have set me in good stead for future domestic duties. Still, I mustn’t grumble. My husband plays very little now and I (occasionally, after having had a glass of wine) encourage him to go to play more than he does; I like the fact he is passionate about a sport he is good at it and it is something he has done since he was 11 years old.
So the real beef, the real pink-in-the-middle chateaubriand for two, is about the golf clubs. Why are they still bastions of male tradition and exclusivity, with outdated rules and unnecessary conventions? When my mother-in-law came to pick up her young son from the club, she was turned away for wearing leggings. Yes this was nearly 30 years ago but unlike most of the rest of society, I’m not sure that things have changed much. When I went to the club many moons ago, I put on three-quarter length trousers, a pastel coloured polo shirt and a baseball cap. How ridiculous! One of my husband’s clubs (yes, there are two), only allowed women to become members last year and the handful of women I know of who play, took up the sport so that they can join in with their husbands and sons. But the clubs themselves are not exactly family-friendly and yes, I guess that this is the point. They are little pockets of old school Englishness, closeting away acres of glorious woodland and green spaces for the privileged few to enjoy. I don’t see them inviting me and the rugrats down to throw food around the jackets-only restaurant or for a romp on the putting green. Why no kid-friendly cafe? Why no windowless soft-play with a million brightly coloured plastic balls? No wonder the men flock there on a Saturday morning: the blissful peace and quiet is pure escapism.
But for this weekend only, I’ll join my husband on the sofa in front of the dedicated Ryder Cup channel, and cheer on Team Europe in their matching sunglasses. You never know, we may not be eligible to be on the team once we leave the EU: finally, I have found an upside to Brexit. (Joke, honey)
Apologies to the 1996 Epsom team whose photo I have made unauthorised use of. It’s a goody though.