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The Write Way

15 October 2004


The Loneliness of the Long Distance Golfer



My mention last week of golf courses set my little grey cells scurrying through the memory banks to dredge up images of Golf Games Past ...

The last time I played golf was back in the 60s, when the Love of My Life and I were mere babes and were holidaying with my parents at a little coastal town on the Mid-North Coast of NSW. It was a dark and stormy night ...

Well, no, it wasn't really ... It was morning and overcast and the first dry day we'd had after about a week of rain. Did I mention we were on holidays?

Since this was the 60s, and we weren't married or even engaged at the time, there was no hanky-panky, so we spent most of our time doing outdoorsy things - swimming (despite the rain ... you get wet anyway so what's the difference, eh?), walking, boat trips on the lake, rowing in little hire boats, and then the LoML suggested ... golf.

I think it must be a Boy Thing ... give 'em a ball of any size, shape or composition and a stick, bat, racquet, club, bit of wood or hob-nailed boot to hit it with and they're happy for hours.

So I donned my mini skirt and imitation suede jerkin over the paisley shirt, pulled on my best knee-length white socks and flatties, set my wet-look PVC Mary Quant cap at a jaunty angle and off we went.

Now, I'd played a few rounds when I was at school - as one of those compulsory sport things - and I was familiar with the basics of golf from watching Kel Nagle and others on the telly ... It looked easy. I could do that. No worries. So I approached the first tee with a confidence born of ignorance, bent from the knees (I was wearing a mini, remember?) balanced the ball on the little stick thing, did a couple of practice swings as I'd seen the pros do,  took a swipe and missed.

We laughed and I tried again ... This time I made contact with the ground, took a rather large chunk out of the turf, splashed mud onto my white socks (it had rained the night before) and knocked the ball off the tee as my hands jarred from the impact and I dropped the club.

I laughed ... the LoML grimaced.

After another three tries, I finally got the ball airborne ... after a fashion ... Well, all right then! It dribbled across the grassy knoll and rolled down the embankment and onto the fairway ... Gee ... you don't have to shout, it's only a game.

The LoML suggested he'd play through and I might like to catch up with him, so he took one swing at the ball. It gave one of those satisfying smack sounds and sped off into the distance to land a few feet from the flag.

I proceeded to criss-cross my way up the fairway from rough to sand trap and back to rough again until I arrived within coo-ee of the green, which in that cruel, sadistic way of golf course designers, was positioned slightly above and to the right of another sand trap.

Taking one almighty swing, I managed to launch the ball into the air where it marked a graceful parabola up and over the green and disappeared into a patch of long grass on the other side. Conscious of the other golfers rapidly gaining on us, I gently placed my bag on the ground with a girlish trill of laughter. I then selected what I thought looked a suitable club and headed for where the ball had landed. I'd learned to watch for landmarks on my long, lonely journey up the fairway.

With my eye fixed firmly on a spot between a big gum and a smaller tree, I strode purposefully on before coming to a sudden halt as I sank white-sock deep in mud that had been left by the previous week's rain.

To say that I was not amused would be an understatement. And that incident, dear reader, put an end to what may very well have been a lucrative career as a pro golfer ... or not.


I have to confess that the averse circumstances of my first game of golf have influenced my attitude to it ever since, and now I only venture on to the course as caddy. 

Hmmm ... or maybe the adverse circumstances are to blame. explains the meanings of adverse:

  • Acting or serving to oppose; antagonistic: adverse criticism.
  • Contrary to one's interests or welfare; harmful or unfavorable: adverse circumstances.
  • Moving in an opposite or opposing direction: adverse currents.

It comes from the Latin advertere 'to turn toward.' Another word derived from this is adversary.

Averse comes from the same Latin root, but means:

Having a feeling of opposition, distaste, or aversion; strongly disinclined: investors who are averse to taking risks.

Speaking, as we were, of golf reminds me of a wonderful line from P.G.Wodehouse (1881-1975):

"'After all, golf is only a game' said Millicent.

Women say these things without thinking. It does not mean that there is any kink in their character. They simply don't realise what they're saying."

And doesn't that illustrate better than anything you've heard in a long while, the difference between men and women?

It seems that this is a time for confession, because I must also 'fess up that I pinched the title for this week's newsletter from that tremendous Marty Feldman sketch called, funnily enough, "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Golfer." If you've never seen this and have no idea what I'm rabbiting on about now, go here, o ye of little faith, and you'll see I'm not making it up. 

Read an article about how to choose the best clubs for your game ... by someone who actually knows of what he writes! 


This week's quiz:

What aspect of human activities do you normally associate with the following?

e.g. barometer - weather forecasting

1. bathos

2. pirouette

3. molecule

4. creel

5. theodolite

6. yaw

7. tibia

8. gradient

9. fulcrum


We saw our daughter disappear into the belly of a great silver bird just last week ...

Mankind has a perfect record in aviation; we've never left one plane up there!

Blue water navy truism: There are more planes in the ocean than there are submarines in the sky.

When one engine fails on a twin-engine airplane you always have enough power left to get you to the scene of the crash.

And the Basic Rules of Flying:

1. Try to stay in the middle of the air.
2. Do not go near the edges of it.
3. The edges of the air can be recognized by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees and interstellar space. It is much more difficult to fly there.

Last week's quiz:

Write one word for each of the following expressions. In each case, the word must use one of the following prefixes: inter (between), sub (under) or bene (well):

1. to ask for a favour for someone - INTERCEDE

2. one who receives money etc at a person's death - BENEFICIARY

3. lower in rank - SUBORDINATE

4. ceasing and going on again at intervals - INTERMITTENT

5. to scatter or place randomly - INTERSPERSE

6. to put in the place of another - SUBSTITUTE

7. words of blessing - BENEDICTION

8. an order commanding a person's presence at a court - SUBPOENA

9. under the earth - SUBTERRANEAN

10.a remark thrown into a conversation - INTERJECTION 

Our Map of the World has some fascinating glimpses into the places our Merry Band call home. Drop by if you haven't been back for some time and don't forget to read the messages. (Just click List).   

A Little Something Extra

Anyone who's interested in writing for money, will no doubt have come across Peter Bowerman's great book, The Well-Fed Writer. And now there's a second volume, called Back for Seconds. This time, Peter offers lots more ideas about where to find freelance work and how to persuade some of the less likely suspects that they need a freelancer (you!) to write for them.

His chapter, 'Dining Off the Beaten Path' even has a list of 60 potential writing clients. 60! I found my brain working overtime as I came up with idea after idea to pitch. F'r instance, if you have a gym or health and fitness centre near you (you may even be one of those unafraid to be seen in public in lycra yourself) then why not approach them with your ideas for writing a newsletter, a weekly set of exercises, a leaflet of healthy recipes or other fitness tips?

If you live near a tourist attraction, approach all the businesses that service it (think eateries, accommodation, transport, tours etc) and offer to write a history of the area, a leaflet about the best times/ways to enjoy whatever it is or a guide to similar places close by.

As I said, there are 60 of these potential markets in this one chapter! Then there's the chapter, 'Eating Well in Smaller Markets' that shows how you can make a very nice living thank you very much even if you don't live in the centre of the writing universe.

Of course, the book contains much more than just this, but to my way of thinking, it's the big question of where to find work that most of us are interested in, and Peter's book provides plenty of answers. Just think of the chapters on how and what to charge for your services, the fear-free way to cold call, what you should be doing on your website, how to utilise your network and the rest as valuable bonuses. Read more and get your copy now. 

Word of the week: Paleobathymetry (n) The study of ocean depths and topography of the ocean floor in the geologic past.

If you're into digging around in the dirt and old things, here are a couple more from the US Geological Survey site to add to your collection: 

The branch of paleontology that deals with the geographic distribution of plants and animals in past geologic time, especially with regard to ecology, climate, and evolution.
The study of oceans in the geologic past, including its physical, chemical, biologic and geologic aspects.

Oxymoron of the week: useful staff meeting (Mmmm ... been there, done that!)

If you love Latin, what about combining your two great loves? A Golf shirt with a Latin slogan! Get yours now. 

"Libens, Volens, Potens!" The Romans knew what they were talking about ... wear this to be ready, willing and able for anything!

And a very useful Latin phrase:

Horologium manuale meum stitit. (My watch stopped.) 

Doesn't that sound so much more important (and believable) in Latin?




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