Firstly, let me introduce myself, my name is Paul, and I’m a golf addict!
So at this stage, I have been playing golf for roughly three years, my ‘Society handicap’ was 25 (before I knew about The Social Golfer) and I still wanted to improve.
Fuelled with the comments made to me by other society golfers (that I have to play more) I decided it was time to be joining a golf club…
Now, this is a big commitment as golf took up only about 10 days a year…not only was there the financial implications but also the commitment to playing the game every weekend. “My club would be a great place for you to start Paul” says one of my social buddies.
“They have a special offer on, of 18 months for the price of 12” So I join, seconded by the fella that has recommended me the club.
Joining a Golf Club – Getting Started
Off I go to meet the Secretary at the club. Now, this club has or had no buggies so I have to buy my own.
This is another financial outlay and getting the right machine to fit in my car is not an easy task.
Anyhow, I find a machine for sale on eBay; I put in an offer and win the thing!
At the weekend I shoot over to Kent to pick the item up.
The machine is only a couple of months old and looks brand new, the guy selling the buggy only used it to watch his grandson playing he was not even a golfer.
He shows me how to dismantle the machine and I load it up in my Land Rover.
Off I go, back to Essex with my newly acquired golf transport.
On getting it home I reassemble it. This takes about 15 minutes and park the buggy in my garage.
I’d seen other buggy owners leave their machines completely using ramps to load and unload their ride on’s.
So back to eBay! I purchase a sturdy pair of ramps, that look as if they were built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel…they weigh a ton.
My then driveway was on a slope, I wait for my ex to go shopping and then reverse the Land Rover in position, the rake of the slope is shortened by the ramps and I feel confident that the machine will almost roll unaided into the boot with ease.
I line up the wheels of the contraption and free-wheel the buggy onto the ramps.
Creaks emerge from the ramps but they are so sturdy, I have nothing to worry about.
However, what I had not anticipated was the weight of the buggy and the tyres gripping the ramp’s jagged surface. So I try and push the buggy, no joy though, the brute is stuck.
I have a light bulb moment, why do I not just turn the machine on and use the motors to locate the buggy in the boot.
I switch on the device turn the throttle and the buggy shoots forward wheels spinning up the ramp, the tyres are gripping like no tomorrow, the ramps start to shift and I am hanging onto the throttle for dear life.
The buggy lurches from the ramps precariously perched with two wheels in the boot, the others, one spinning furiously in mid-air one still on the ramp, I let go of the throttle and try to heave the machine the last three feet.
Crash one ramp hits the concrete, I am now the only thing holding the buggy up, I lose my footing (did I mention I only have one leg!) and the other remaining ramp gives way, and we all fall to the floor.
I am now pinned to the concrete driveway by a ramp and the buggy which is on top of the ramp; I am half under the car and can’t move an inch.
I try to bench press the machine but it slides further on top of me, I can’t reach my phone which is in my pocket…I am facing death by ‘golf buggy’ on my own drive!
There is no one in the house, help I shout weakly, half humiliated by the embarrassment but now also now starting to panic.
What happened next?
“Help!” I shout, much louder this time, and I hear footsteps.
My neighbour’s (who had been washing his car) face appears grinning above the wreckage that is pinning me to the floor, ‘do you need a hand old chap’ yes I squeak I’m getting crushed.
After a few brief grunts and groans, I am free from the carnage and thank my neighbour profusely for saving my life.
After a few more dry runs, I mastered the buggy into the boot without any more mishaps and set off to my new Golf club the day after.
Joining a Golf Club – My first game
On joining the golf club, I was told that the Saturday swindle would be a good way to introduce myself.
So I pitch up at 7.30 am on a chilly October morning. There are about a dozen or so men milling around in the car park.
I introduce myself, balls are placed in a hat and drawn, and I am allocated a four-ball.
On reintroducing me to my playing partners, one announces: ‘I’ve already said good morning to you once’ and another says ‘do you work for the council?’
“Yes!” I retort.
“Are they going to build a f****** Mosque in Chelmsford?” he asks
Is this what people discuss on the course these days?… I think to myself!
I must confess, the round was not my best but after a few holes, I settled down and showed my partners that a one-legged player could actually hit the ball.
On arrival at the 18th tee, I was starting to feel a little more confident. I drove the ball just off the fairway but still in reach of the green that was about 160 yards away.
Grabbing my 6-iron, I fancied the approach shot. I lined up feeling one good blow would allow a possible par on the last; I had not got one yet.
Swoosh… I smashed into the ball which set off straight but then reared right, turning into an almighty slice.
The ball clattered onto the clubhouse roof and disappeared down the other side. “That’s OB” a member indicated, so I played a provisional (this time straight) but nowhere near the green.
I set off to retrieve my ball which when I got in the car park sat in the Lady captains parking bay next to her car.
As I approached she got out of her car.
‘Well that shot was a bit wayward wasn’t it’.
‘yes’ I sliced it
‘Nevermind’ she replied bending down picking up the ball and offering it to me, as I was still sitting in my buggy.
I reached out to take the ball…but she held onto it with the grip of a steeple jack, I looked into her face which had been smiling, it now turned to thunder.
She let go of the ball and announced ‘and don’t drive your buggy over the tee next time!’
To my horror, I had done just that, in haste to fetch my ball.
I returned to my provisional ball and promptly took an 8.
A game under my belt and only two more cards to go I would have my CONGU golf handicap.
God help me I was now a Club Member….and clearly had some way to go before I had endeared myself to “the committee”.
Paul Houghton is a member at Riverhall Hall Golf Centre where he plays off 15 (on TSG). He’s also a member of the Disabled Golf Association and European Disabled Golf Association; he has represented England nine times in tournaments.