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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Barbara Algie muses on the changing world of Golf

It’s been a long time – perhaps even a hundred years – since we had a summer as long and hot as the one we are currently experiencing and, speaking of a hundred years, reminds me that I have just weathered a whirlwind of social events connected with my golf club’s centennial year.

Established in 1914, Pupuke is one of the oldest clubs in the country. Anticipating a week of hi-jinks, I stashed the bathroom scales out of sight and fortunately can’t now remember where I put them.

Our celebrations began at 7pm when 17 members of the Royal NZ Navy Pipe & Drum Band marched from the 18th tee, across the fairway to the clubhouse, where a commemorative plaque was unveiled by our Patron. This was a re-enactment of an event in the early 1950’s, when a tiny, dilapidated clubhouse was ceremoniously locked at midnight, a lone Piper led the small band of rowdy revellers across the course in the dark to where a new building was equally ceremoniously unlocked and the party continued until the wee, small hours.  

Sharing our Club celebrations was another, world-shattering, event. Well, I suppose the avid lady golfers of this world would consider it to be that. The Royal & Ancient Golf Club has for the past 100 years dictated every rule and regulation for those who attempt to play the game. Their word has been Gospel never to be queried. This formerly male-only stronghold has finally agreed ladies are to be admitted as members of St Andrews! Oh to have been a fly on the wall of the committee room in that historic building when the decision was hotly debated by elderly Scotsmen in flying Kilts and Sporrans. I would like to think our own Lydia Ko may have been an influencing factor in bringing this fuddy duddy outfit into line with how today’s world operates.

Since the game began the dress code changed to allow more appropriate attire – equipment improved to enable beginners to whack a drive some 200 metres away – children, such as Lydia Ko was when she began playing at the age of 6, may now be accepted as junior members of golf clubs but rules were rules and they’ve changed only marginally – so St Andrews deserves congratulations - belated congratulations for at last acknowledging that women do have a place on their hallowed turf.

I finish with some advice from an anonymous ‘veteran’ golfer. ‘By the time we get to the age when we can afford to buy a new golf ball we can’t hit the damned thing far enough to lose it!’

Barbara Algie

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