In one of my previous blogs I told you about my lack of hand eye co-ordination. Well yesterday it was well and truly put to the test. A few weeks ago Rachel had said about going for a round of golf when we were out here. Tibu plays a bit and Nico is no stranger to a set of clubs. I however have only ever played one, well actually half, a round. I played 9 holes at Lockerbie a few years ago and that took a long time. I’ve been to the driving range occasionally (by occasionally I mean twice in my life) but not since 2010. I had vowed that I would get to the driving range before we went on holiday but I just never got around to it. Still, it’s just hitting a ball with a stick. Can’t be that hard can it?
Tibu had booked the 3 of us in for a game at 6:00 pm at Lauro Golf, which is a Seve Balesteros designed course 5 minutes from La Villa Wow. We turned up and were kitted out with clubs and buggies. That was when it all began to go wrong. I have never driven a golf buggy before. It had two pedals (I guessed accelerate and brake) and an ignition key. I turned the key and nothing happened. I was also concerned that I needed to go backwards to get out of my parking space, but there were no gears. I turned the key again nothing. Tibu and Nico had theirs going but mine sat, resolutely silent. At that point a German couple pulled up beside me. The man jumped out and explained that to start the engine just press the gas pedal and to go backwards, flick the direction switch conveniently(!) positioned under my seat. I thanked him, resisted the urge to ask if his dog was called Dave, and the 2 buggies headed off to the first tee.
I’ll say something for this course; it was gorgeous. It was like playing Golf on the Wii at home, but for real, and warmer, and I had all my limbs and didn’t sporadically go transparent. Tibu teed off first. He used one of sticks with a big bulgy thing on the end (which he confusingly called “woods” even though they were made out of metal or “drivers” even though they didn’t appear to drive anything anywhere). It was a par 3 course so in theory it would take 3 clouts to get the ball in the hole (I think that’s what it means anyway). Tibu didn’t use the largest club as, to quote Nico, “he could drive a ball into Portugal with one of those things”. Quick couple of practices then, thwack, he hit the ball 2/3 of the way down the fairway. Methinks Tibu’s “playing a bit” may be the complete opposite to my “occasionally”. He even looked a bit like Seve Balesteros.
Nico was up next and did a good shot about halfway down the fairway. My turn next. Tibu put the ball on the tee and told me that I should feel the weight of the club as I swing through. Nico recommend that I let the club do all the work (it transpired that my clubs were on a go slow and any progress that I was going to make was down to my own sheer hard work). I swung. I missed. I pulled my annoyed face. I swung again. I hit it! My ball then flew like a very, very low flying object as it grazed the grass and bounced all the way to…the ladies tee. I had managed to propel the ball a good 12 yards!
Nico and Tibu jumped in their buggie to drive up and take their next shot. I decided it was probably easier to just walk to mine. My next shot took it to the right of the green and the a little chip (or 2) and I was onto the green. Now I thought greens were made out of grass. These appeared to be made out of Teflon. Every time I hit the ball it shot away from me. A few attempts later and I eventually got it in the hole. It only took 10 shots. Result!
Alas I couldn’t maintain this blistering pace and as the sun began setting and the temperature dropped into a more pleasant mid thirties, I dropped with it. I had given up count at the 3rd as my scores would have been very acceptable on Strictly but not the golf course. By the time we got to the 7th I was seriously flagging. I ended up walking the entire hole as I chased my ball up the fairway 10 yards at a time. Tibu rode alongside me in the buggy offering advice. It was like that scene in Rocky where Burgess Meredith is cycling next to Sylvester Stalone in that training montage. But as I continued my long walk I could see Tibu looking at me with increasing disbelief. How could one man so consistently fail to hit the ball? I was worried that my annoyed face was going be permanently stuck. All that was getting me through at this point was the thought of a cold beer when we got back the villa.
Eventually we arrived on the 9th (I think we had all given up any plans on doing the whole 18). A couple of holes back the sprinklers had come on, bringing a whole new dimension to the game. It sort of became more like Wipeout and less like the Open. As I was walking down the fairway I saw the last evil trick this course had to offer me. There appeared to be a huge sprinkler in the way. Then like that scene in Star Wars when they realise that the Death Star is not actually a planet, I realised that this wasn’t a sprinkler, but a lake with a fountain in it. It was, to use golfing parlance, a water trap. Tibu gave me excellent tips on how to clear this monstrosity, but due to tiredness, lack of skill and my clubs having given up any idea of working this late in the day, I chipped it beautifully into the lake.
It was now 25 to 9 and the course closed at 9, so instead of playing on we decided to drive the buggies around the remaining 9 holes. As I hurtled around the course taking in some beautiful scenery, wind blowing through my receding hair, feeling a combination of giddyness from my achievement and nausea from the petrol fumes, I decided this golfing lark wasn’t too bad. Not good enough to go out on a wet Saturday afternoon in Southport, but perhaps I may dust the wii down when I get home and play a few holes, just so I don’t get rusty.