Free time – Golf – a sport or an obsession?

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He may not win, but Dr. Richard Corke finds that golf meets his sporting and social needs.

I had been working as a GP for 21 years when circumstances led me to move to a practice in West Lancashire. Keen to make new friends and contacts, I spoke to one of my new partners who advised me to join a particular medical society in another town because they have an annual sponsored golf day.

Of course, golf has much to recommend it – it’s exercise, it’s relaxing, it’s sociable, it can be inexpensive, it can enhance social status and it’s relatively safe.

I now play a weekly, friendly (yet gently competitive) game with a regular golfing buddy – not a doctor, incidentally – and just looking forward to my afternoon’s sport can keep my chin up on those wearisome, stressful days in surgery. But despite my best efforts to make a rational case for playing golf, closer inspection, of my recommendations shows it in a rather different light.

Exercise. Most of us use a golf trolley, often motorized, and those who choose to carry a bag risk back problems. Plus, the calories burned over 18 holes are invariably replenished at the 19th.

Relaxing. I would rather make an emergency house call to a colleague with chest pain, than a left-to-right downhill six-foot putt.

Sociable. The apres-golf can be pleasant after a harrowing round until the talk turns to an interminable shot-by-shot analysis of the winner’s suspiciously impressive 42 points, or an interminable shot-by-shot analysis of your own inability to send your ball in the direction intended by the course designer.

Inexpensive. When a year’s subscription averages about 20 per cent of a month’s net income we shouldn’t grumble. Yet can you really persuade yourself that you don’t mind losing another pounds 3 ball in the short grass?

And, of course, the loser usually buys the drinks.

Social status. Just look in the mirror next time you come in from a winter round in your frayed, mud-spattered over-trousers. And remember, the plumber with the dodgy prostate beat you anyway.

Safe. Well, there are possible neck and back problems, and of course golfer’s elbow – but I suspect the main danger is the risk to anyone foolhardy enough to stand within a 45-degree arc of my intended shot Yes, I’m insured.

That’s one less stress.

No, it really doesn’t make sense. It seems obsessive, irrational – must be a psychosis. Okay, I’m off to see the shrink. Might just pop into the club for a little chipping practice on the way though.

Comment below if your free time activity is something other GPS might enjoy trying.