Home' Scoop : Scoop 52 Contents 114 SCOOP AUTUMN 2010
It s a 60-million strong "army" worldwide.
Impervious to blistering heat, freez-
ing cold, pelting rain, or pretty much
anything nature can throw at em (well,
lightning excepted perhaps).
But these aren t soldiers slavishly following
orders -- these are golfers, the most determined
(mad?), focused group of sports men and women
on the planet, who voluntarily will head off on the
hottest, coldest, wettest or windiest day in a battle
of wits, and stamina, against -- themselves.
For this is one sport where, even in a tourna-
ment, you are really only ever competing with
yourself. And that s the appeal of modern golf,
invented by the Scots some 800 years ago (one
theory is it dates back to shepherds knocking
stones into rabbit holes on what is now the site of
St Andrews) and capable, to this day of driving its
exponents -- good, bad, "hacker" or professional --
to the depths of despair or giddy heights of sheer
delight, often within the same round or even the
In Australia, more than 1.7 million people are
hooked on the game; Western Australia alone has
120,000 registered players. But many, many more
are happy to head out to the public courses and
have a "whack around".
Make no mistake though -- golf is a difficult
game at the best of times, which is why anyone
thinking of taking it up, or improving their game,
needs professional help.
The object of the game is -- or should be --
simple; try to get a non-moving ball into each of
the nine or 18 holes on a course in as few shots
possible. A golf course has a par rating, normally
72, but taking just 72 shots to complete a round
is usually the domain of the very, very select few,
professionals and the like.
However, golf s handicap system, in theory
gives even a beginner a fighting chance of racking
up a good score; you are basically allowed a certain
number of "extra" shots in a round, which you can
deduct to get your actual net score.
It is reckoned that fewer than 10 percent of
ALL recreational golfers break 100 shots for a
round, so a good target if you are just starting out
is the magical ton. As you get better, you set your
sights on a lower net score and so on.
But starting out in golf can be a daunting expe-
rience; standing on the first tee of a public course
for the first time, with a gallery keenly watching,
is akin to turning up for your first day of work in
So confidence, married to sound technique, is
Scotland's King James II once banned golf because it was proving a distraction for his archers, who
were supposed to be honing their skills to fight the English. But more than 500 years later, golf is as
addictive as ever...and in WA, one of the most accessible sports going. text norman burns
DID YOU KNOW?
There is a strict line between amateur
and professional golf. Prizes in amateur
events (club championships and the
like) are limited to $1200 in value; if you
accept something over the value of
this, you lose your amateur status.
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