Yesterday afternoon we decided to give golf a try. A couple of weeks ago my friend Jenni had kindly given us two sets of golf clubs that her own children had outgrown. Actual, proper golf clubs for children. The only set that we had previously owned was a set from Toys R Us, a cheap, plastic set with rather flimsy, lightweight clubs that would invariably crumple and buckle on impact whenever one of the plastic balls was hit causing tears of despair and a rather rapid finish to any round of golf. Consequently, the prospect of having actual, proper golf clubs filled the boys with much excitement and myself with something approaching dread as I considered the potential for injury. However, buoyed on by memories of the fun we had playing golf while in the UK we packed up the clubs and set off to the driving range of San Pedro Golf Club.
On arrival I was relieved to see that the place was relatively quiet. The thought of Sam and Henry armed with golf clubs, randomly swinging at golf balls in close proximity to unwitting fellow golfers and spectators made me more than a little apprehensive, so the fact that the number of potential victims was quite small was of some comfort. We went to the desk and paid for two tokens which would entitle us to 50 balls, while both boys admired the display of photos, golf clubs and trophies inside. Having located the ball dispensing machine in a little outhouse, we put in our first token and 25 balls came spilling and bouncing noisily out, scattering all over the floor. We had neglected to notice the stacks of baskets next to the machine which normal, wiser people would have put under the machine in order to catch the balls. Instead we scrabbled around on the floor collecting the balls wherever they had settled, including in the wet, filthy, rubbish strewn area underneath the machine, which was especially pleasant, trying to catch them all before anyone came in and noticed our amateur error. Collecting the next 25 balls was a much simpler, quieter procedure and before we knew it we were ready to play.
Walking along through the driving range we chose a spot as far away from everybody else as we possibly could. Just behind us was a little putting practice green with nine little holes to practice on. So while Sam was merrily swinging away at golf balls with his customary wild aim, frequently shouting out commentary (oblivious to any requests to please be a bit quieter and calmer) such as “LOOK! THAT ONE WENT ALL THE WAY TO THE WATER SPRINKLER!” and “LOOK! THAT ONE WENT ALL THE WAY TO THE NUMBER 20 SIGN!”, Henry took a ball and the biggest wedge from the bag and made his way over to the putting green. I had tried to explain to him that he needed a putter for the putting green rather than a wedge, but he had made up his mind and wasn’t about to listen to any caddy advice from the likes of me. Anyway, he was quite happy, also swinging away wildly despite my efforts to show him how to make smaller and gentler shots, shots that didn’t involve the ball whizzing over the putting green boundary and ricocheting noisily off of a hut nearby, attracting bemused glances from our fellow sportsmen. A very short time later a gentleman came up to us and said something to us which we couldn’t quite hear due to someone giving a particularly loud shout of “LOOK! THAT ONE WENT ALL THE WAY OVER TO THAT TREE!”. The gentleman kindly repeated himself and explained that the wedge wasn’t the club we should be using on the putting green as it would be digging up holes in the grass, which as you may recall I had tried to explain to Henry at the time he initially chose his weapon. So we went back to the bag, retrieved a putter and Henry resumed his ‘putting’. I showed him how each hole had a number and asked him to choose one of the holes to try and get the ball into, using little shots, not big ones. So he chose hole number 4 and set about hitting the ball towards it as I offered words of encouragement and enthusiastic whoops whenever he sometimes got near to the hole before promptly whacking it away in the opposite direction. After 20 or so hits the ball finally settled right on the edge of the hole and Henry tapped the ball in with his hand. I tried to tell him that he should have used the club for that but I don’t think he heard me as at that moment somebody shouted “LOOK! THAT BALL HIT THAT OTHER BALL!” Nevertheless, Henry and I enjoyed a mutual celebration of the ball going in the hole and Henry looked up at me proudly and asked “Will I get one of the trophies now Mummy?” Well, I think that’s what he said, as at that moment somebody shouted “LOOK! ALL THE BALLS HAVE GONE NOW, CAN WE HAVE ICE CREAM?” That seemed like a very good idea and so we retired to the cafe to have ice cream and drinks. Sam was full of smiles and said happily “I like playing golf!” Well, I think that’s what he said as at that moment somebody shouted out “I NEED A POO!” and of course that was Henry.
As we sat and finished our drinks we watched as the driving range filled up quickly with newly arrived golfers, thankful that we had arrived at an earlier, quieter time with considerably less witnesses to our performance and I silently pondered the likelihood of us ever being allowed back in at a future date.