THESE days I try not to spend too much time piloting the armchair. I'll save that for when I start to feel old. Till then, I’ll keep strolling up and down the fairways, in search of a half-decent round of golf.
A few years ago I bumped into a former colleague, who worked for a national UK insurance company. She asked me if I knew anyone over sixty who played golf.
Mildly amused, I told her that I know of a few in their seventies, eighties and nineties who play regularly. She then asked me if I could write a story for her company for an upcoming advertising campaign, aimed at the over-60s.
Happy to oblige, I duly did, and they also used the heading that I put on the piece: ‘The art of staying alive, play golf’.
Before retirement, I worked for a few publications as a golf scribe, mainly writing about courses, taking photographs of the best bits of them, and interviewing famous and not so famous people from all walks of life, just trying to supply copy that would be fun, informative and interesting, away from the usual fodder from the clubs and associations that find its way into most publications, courtesy of the web.
I ‘toiled’ at this for 17 years and had a lot of fun on the way. Sadly, some famous people were really hard work, even when they were being paid for the privilege of spending a couple of hours hitting the ball and chatting to me and other golf writers on the way round.
Nicest was Clive Mantle, of ‘Casualty’ and ‘Vicar of Dibley’ fame.
His characters on those shows were a mixture of fierceness and flamboyance, though, in real life, well, on the golf course, he was very polite and great fun.
He was very appreciative of some photographs I sent to him of the day, and we maintained correspondence for quite a while after that.
I bowed out as a golf editor, just before I retired in 2011. Now it’s about having fun with my brother-in-law, Andy, or just enjoying the loneliness of the long-distance golfer on the odd day.
When I started the golf writing I had an 18 handicap, but finished in single figures. I think I might be a million miles away from that now.
Another bit of name-dropping to finish, for those who are still reading, the best tip I was given came from 1991 US PGA and 1995 Open champion, John Daly.
He said: “Far too many golfers leave their best swing getting ready for the shot. Have one, but then have a few that are pretty loose. Just make your practice swing an ugly thang”.
I used to put all the tips I garnered from pros and players alike into practice, and, as I used to write, ‘It worked for me’ – and the ‘ugly thang’ still works.