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 CLIVE AGRAN
 At the 19th

A much more fun way to do it...

Call it a final desperate throw of the dice if you like but, having exhausted every conceivable combination of swing thoughts without much success, I saw no harm in giving them a try. (“Unrelated pronoun, Agran,” I can hear my old English teacher, screaming at me. “Sorry, sir. Just trying to build a little suspense by deliberately withholding the noun. Bear with me, sir.”)

What prompted the experiment was the arrival of an unsolicited parcel. I receive them from time to time and the knock of the postman on the front door is often the most thrilling moment in an otherwise uneventful day.

Enough self-pity, back to the parcels. I like to think they're from fans. They never are, of course. Invariably they're from a PR company and contain quirky curiosities like floating golf balls, revolutionary tee-pegs, bizarre putting aids, ‘fun’ headcovers or some other useless item gummed together by a misguided wannabe entrepreneur. I should throw them away but shoving someone’s dream straight in the bin seems cruel and insensitive.

And so I wait a couple of weeks and then shove them in a bin. The only alternative would be to keep hold of them and hope another misguided wannabe entrepreneur opened a Museum of Useless Golf Gear and bought the lot from me for a vast sum.

Anyway this particular parcel aroused my interest because, unlike the vast majority of them, it didn’t rattle, which was hardly surprising since it contained a pair of trousers. But not just any old trousers. These were a quite dazzling pair of plus twos. More remarkable even than the stunning plaid pattern and vibrant colours was the fact they fitted perfectly.

Someone had done their homework and, in case anyone else out there fancies sending me trousers, took the trouble to discover that I’m a 34-inch waist. Since they’re plus twos the fact my inside leg measures 31 inches is irrelevant. Nor does it matter that my shoe size is 9½, my chest is 40 inches and I feel most comfortable in a large sweater. I mention that because…well, you never know. With a reputation as a lousy putter rather than a snappy dresser, I don’t ordinarily cut much of a dash on the world’s fairways. Indeed, my clothes are so scruffy I once considered approaching Oxfam to see if they would be interested in some sort of tie-up…to wrap around the waist and keep my trousers from falling down, ho-ho!

But this flashy pair – generously donated by a lovely company called Royal and Awesome – could change all that and, who knows, provide the sort of inspiration my game has always lacked. There is a precedent here. Fans of P.G. Wodehouse and the wonderful ‘Oldest Member’ short stories might recall ‘The Magic Plus Fours’. Wallace Chesney, an affable duffer, is miraculously transformed into a majestic ball-striker on receipt of a gaudy pair of golf trousers given to him by his fiancée. The problem is that he simultaneously morphs into a thoroughly unpleasant chap who rapidly loses all his friends. A small price to pay, I always thought.

As luck would have it, my new pair of trousers arrived the day before I was off to Tenerife for a pro-am tournament at the fabulous Abama resort. Should I take them? A moderately shy, modest and retiring sort of bloke, I don’t ordinarily try to draw too much attention to myself, especially on a golf course where I’m normally trying to hide. On the other hand, these trousers might do for me what they did for Wallace Chesney, and so I packed them together with matching socks and shirts.

Throwing them in the case is one thing; putting them on and walking about in them is something entirely different. And so, as I got dressed on the first morning in Tenerife, I hesitated before eventually summoning up the courage to pull them on. Feeling rather self-conscious, I skipped the scrutiny of the dining-room at breakfast and instead went straight to the course.

To their considerable credit, my playing partners avoided the usual quips such as, “You’ve won your bet,” or “Come straight from a fancy-dress party, have you?” The pro was a charming chap from Argentina called Sebastian. He didn’t say anything about my trousers and so I didn’t bring up the subject of the recent referendum in the Falkland Islands.

Miguel, a fellow hack from Belgium, evidently hadn’t received a pair of Royal and Awesome trousers. Perhaps they only send them to the most influential journalists. And the final member of our team was a lovely guy from Scotland called Allyn Dick, who had somehow managed to play off plus three without the assistance of magic trousers. What’s his secret, I wondered as I stepped onto the 10th tee, which was our opening hole.

A majestic par-five that sweeps down the hill with a lovely lake on the left, it looked unusually inviting. Instead of my usual practise swing, I simply looked down at my trousers to draw inspiration. Curiously, I felt none of the nerves that normally afflict me on the opening tee shot. Feeling curiously calm and confident, I struck the ball. It flew off the clubface and soared into the trees on the right and was lost. Ah, well.

May 2013

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

 

 
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