OPINION: THE SIMPLICITY OF SUBURBAN GOLF

By Jimmy Emanuel May 6 2020 4:36PM

For the first time since coronavirus-enforced isolation, I played golf this week.

Having not experienced a major urge to get out and play previously, not physically playing the game while being immersed in golf each and every day was working just fine.

However, an invitation to join a fellow member of the golf media for a few late afternoon holes at a local public course proved hard to resist.

The resulting hour and a half providing some of the most enjoyable golf from a personal level in a long time and, perhaps more importantly, a reminder of the qualities mostly unique to suburban golf courses and what I hope to see more of in the game for years to come.

The enjoyment of the act of playing golf was partly due to a surprising number of quality strikes and swings combined with no lost balls, good company, some fresh air and a golf course that many of the players who regularly walk its fairways may not know possesses some of the qualities of great golf.

Beyond the surprisingly mounded fairways on flat ground, quick and true greens and quirky blind shots guided by painted concrete arrows in the ground, the enjoyment was derived from equal numbers of walkers, bike riders, families and dog walkers sharing the Marrickville Golf Club land with those playing the game with safe social distancing measures in place.

RIGHT: One of the aiming arrows at Marrickville Golf Club in Sydney’s Inner West. PHOTOS: Adrian Logue. 

The stand out, however, was the young man playing as a single in the group behind us.

A set of clubs made up mostly of older models from the big names in golf manufacturing that at best guess was put together via hand me downs, second hand purchases or discounted superseded models, suggested a keen interest that was fairly new.

The local brewery branded T-shirt, jeans, converse sneakers and a haircut that could only be described as a mullet, suggested this was a fellow Inner West of Sydney local, dressed much the same as many others, all with a strong sense of community that support local businesses strongly.

This outfit wouldn’t fit in at Royal Melbourne, The Australian, Kingston Heath, Lake Karrinyup or many other of the top courses in the country, where dress codes are in place and rightfully supported by the members of what are private clubs with the ability to set the regulations required to play their course.

Having grown up in golf, previously been among the membership of a exclusive private club as a junior player and appreciated the unique qualities of golf fashion and those who execute it well, I certainly don’t have a strong opposition to dress codes, although I believe they can be a hindrance to new golfers.

However, as someone likely to be dressed more similarly to the young golfer at Marrickville when away from the world of golf (minus the mullet) and as a golfer playing their early golf at suburban golf courses, I was heartened to see such a golfer welcomed with open arms.

The dress code debate is one that is often heated from both sides and will never be simply solved, but if more courses welcome golfers with little opposition in place to their participation where possible it can only be a good thing for the game.

Hopefully the convenience of spending time at similar courses close to home without having to get changed before heading to the course and bringing new golfers along who need not ask the question “Do I need to wear a collared shirt?” during this period is happening for others.

I certainly will be taking advantage of this. But for those on the other side of the debate concerned about a golf writer with these views, more than half my closet remains “golf clothes” and they will be worn when appropriate, required and even just when the mood strikes.

 

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