But the idea here is not to try make new enemies or annoy the existing ones any further, so I’ll cut right to the chase. My fondest memories of swinging – hacking I mean – a golf club doesn’t involve a majestic Pilanesberg backdrop at all. Or even a full set of clubs for that matter.
It was just me and my childhood mate Jacques who chucked a few clubs from his dad’s prehistoric, moth-eaten golf bag in their garage in the boot of the car and set off to a mashie course on the outskirts of East London. Red Bishop was the kind of establishment your old-fashioned golf snobs would frown upon, but to us simpletons, those nine holes guarded by a quaint little clubhouse serving ice-cold beers and cheeseburgers, was as good a golfing spot as you could get.
There wasn’t the intimidation factor first-timers face from the moment they get out of the car at a proper golf club, at a flat rate of R6 for your first nine you didn’t need to present a membership card to calculate your green fees, there weren’t pictures of acceptable attire on the noticeboard or a noddy in the pro shop telling you to tuck your shirt into your pants.
There wasn’t a grumpy club official on a cart shouting at you to speed up play midway through your round and we couldn’t care less not wearing proper golf shoes, gloves or buying used balls for R1 each at the bar should you find the only water hazard. We were just a few guys having fun. But you don’t have to travel down to the Eastern Cape to experience golf in such an innocent form.
I think that by now the legendary Red Bishop might be the site of four-story apartment building anyway. There is a hidden little gem right here in Johannesburg in Roosevelt Park just off Beyers Naude Drive. It is a lovely little par-three course called Creek 9, which is under management by Randpark Golf Club.
Holes range from 83m to 210m and the tree-lined backdrop makes it hard to believe that you are in the middle of a big city. It’s the kind of place that serious players will enjoy as much as newcomers to the game, something golf all over is in desperate need of.
Anyone can borrow a few clubs from a mate and put on a pair of tekkies and even if you don’t like it, it will only set you back R65. And with the recent addition of foot golf, which is played similarly to golf using a football and a massive cup on the side on every green, you can even go back and try your hand – or foot I should say – at something else.
If you are still not satisfied, regional manager Saul Stiglingh and his generous crew can sooth your troubled soul with a Cup-a-Soup for a mere R15 on the deck of the lovely little verandah. The bottom line is just to enjoy yourself. And the bigger the fun, the better the memories.