Monday 23 February 2009

The origins of golf

Sometimes my memories are very specific and trigger a number of related memories in my head. As someone who works in IT it does make you wonder how the data in your brain is organised, what the keys to that data are and how the data is cross-referenced.

Rowan has been wandering around the house of late with a plastic golf club - "I play golf" - with which he is able to connect with various objects, sometimes the spherical one he is attempting to hit. In this regard he shows more early hand-eye co-ordination promise than his sport-shy (and optically challenged) brothers. It brought to mind the "golf course" that I used to lay out in our house in Raasay Drive.

We had a grey-blue carpet in the hall, stairs and landing that had whorls in it that could be used as target areas for putting towards but my preferred "hole" was a plastic beaker. (Here's where the specific memories kick in.) There were a couple of beakers I used that were inflexible plastic beakers that we got free on the tops of Robinson's diluting juice. One was a beige colour, the other a shade of purple. We may have had more. Latterly they were used in the bathroom for rinsing hair. Not for holding toothbrushes; that was the job of the retired spotty tumblers, but that's another chain of memories.

The plastic beakers had a thin rim, making them ideal for putting into once they were placed on their sides. The union of plastic ball and beaker was announced with a satisfying click-clunk as a successful putt rolled home. This compared favourably with the disappointing clunk of an off-target roll striking the rim and spinning the cup round. My house golf was played with red plastic golf balls, at least one of which had a small black stone inside and rattled accordingly. Their provenance is less certain, probably from a toy golf set, as they pre-dated my first golf clubs, an 8-iron and a putter, bought in a sports shop in Causeyside St in Paisley near the old Canal St. station when I was about 8 years old. I remember trying them and buying them in the basement of the shop with Dad. The debate was whether to get an 8-iron or a 7-iron, the latter being the mid-iron typically loaned out at the local pitch and putt in Brodie Park. Now I was able to use my own clubs!

In the house I use to lay out par 3's, 4's and 5's, placing the beakers accordingly and then retreating to "tees" in other parts of the room, adjoining rooms or even upstairs. Dog legs had to be negotiated by angling doors so that ricochets could be attempted, shortcuts under chairs and chests of drawers were occasionally frustrated by rebounds off legs or unforeseen storage and my rug (a threadbare, dusty pink coloured quilt that was with me from my cot into adulthood - not an obvious comforter, unlike Sean with Misky, but as something I used to wrap around me when reading in bed in my cold room and going to sleep) was sometimes pressed into service as a bunker. It may have been more like crazy golf, especially when the beaker was positioned on a stair tread and a "downhill putt" had to be paced just right which was almost impossible, but to me it was as real an interpretation of the game as I could achieve when bounded by the season or the weather or someone to take me to Brodie Park.

Watching the boys playing their imaginative games in the house I wonder which ones will stick in their minds as they grow up?

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