I am not a big fan of gardening, so whenever I want a hole digging in the back lawn I just call for Sergio Garcia or Bryson deChambeau to come round and then I simply get them angry.
Without wishing to trivialise the recent hissy fits of two of the world’s finest golfers, there is something slightly comical about watching the sport’s great champions losing their rag over a duffed chip shot. It is kind of reassuring.
The next time that golf’s endless frustrations lead me to a place where I just want to break down and cry, I will be consoled by the vision of a multi-millionaire thrashing away at a sandpit like Basil Fawlty. This game gets you like that.
One of the many unique sporting contradictions of golf is that it is a very emotional game best played without any visible signs of emotion at all.
The etiquette of the sport demands a quiet respect for good grace and manners. That is why there has been such an outcry over the recent headline tantrums, even though they were of the kind that are routinely tolerated and filed under ‘passion’ on a football field.
Golf’s most iconic player of the modern era was serially silent at his best. When Tiger Woods was in the zone, only an earthquake could break his surly concentration. An anguished swear word might occasionally follow an errant drive, a violent fist pump would celebrate a clutch putt, but Tiger’s magnetic charisma was built more by the extraordinary shots that he hit than any real engagement with his fans.
It was back in 2012 that Bubba Watson first encouraged the Ryder Cup galleries to scream and shout during his opening tee shot. It has hardly caught on as a golfing tradition. I have been known to stare in the direction of innocent dog walkers 200 metres away if they should dare to summon their hound while I am addressing the ball. Golf is a game of concentration. Quiet please.
It is because we are concentrating so hard that our annoyance is so vexed when we manage to lose that concentration during the split second between starting and completing our swing. The only thing worse than a bad shot is a bad shot that I instantly know the cause of. And that cause is usually me, not the Labrador owner!
We all do try to keep our simmering rage under wraps at that demoralising moment when the divot flies further than the ball. Many players bark out their own name in the same scolding tone their mothers used to find when they were telling them off for a spill from their high chair.
We attempt to lock down our emotions because we know that very soon we will be standing over the same ball again trying to make the kind of slow, rhythmic sweep at it that only a composed and focussed body and mind can deliver. It is true to say that the most difficult six inches on the golf course are the ones between our ears.
Professionals like Sergio and Bryson pay significant slices of their small fortunes to psychologists in the hope of winning golf’s mind games. Both players have picked up hefty cheques since their outbursts. An eminent sports shrink may even conclude that they have somehow benefitted from letting off steam.
The trick is finding a way to relieve the immediate aggravation of chunking a wedge with an efficient but contained show of self-punishment, and then moving on to the recovery shot with all demons exorcised.
So, I am proposing a new Miss Designer Golf range of hair shirts and sackcloth skorts. These can be worn for one hole after a particularly careless shot by way of teaching ourselves a lesson and releasing our tensions without causing damage to equipment or course architecture.
Available in men’s sizes, Sergio.