A Christmas (Golf) Carol

I’ve written a couple of Christmas themed golf articles for Inside Golf over the years. This one first appeared in the 2013 December issue of Inside Golf. Merry Christmas!

This article originally appeared in Inside Golf where Michael Green writes a monthly column.

His golf game was dead: to begin with. There was no doubt about that. His playing partners had all shook their heads more often than usual in what was now known as his burial round of golf.

Scrooge dug divots the size of small graves and entered wasteland parts of the golf course that no one had yet given names to. His golf game was as dead as a door nail.

He flung his score card at the pro shop staff, “Bah!” said Scrooge, “Humbug!”

They watched ol’ Scrooge tramp towards the car; grasping at sticks trying to escape the bag as he flung them into the boot before speeding off. Some claimed they saw the bag of bent shafts dumped by the side of the road and others said they’d seen Scrooge flogging off golf balls at the pawn shop.

It wasn’t far from the truth. Scrooge had lost the will for golf that day and had resolved to purge all thought and tackle of the wicked game. He put his golf clubs up on eBay and finally felt cleansed of the fairways when he shoved a brick into the golf bag and threw it into the hazard next to the sixth green later that day.

That night, Scrooge resisted the urge to switch over to the dulcet sounds of Saturday evening of European Tour golf and instead fell asleep watching the ‘Home and Garden’ channel.

Scrooge drifted off and dreamed of a time of rickety buggies, short rounds and Dunlop 65 golf balls.

His junior golf days were full of late evening rounds with his father, home-made halfway sandwiches and satisfying three-putt triple bogeys at the goat track down the road. Before each hole a young Scrooge would wash the ball then tee it up the persimmon woods that each had their own distinct marks and scratches.

The game was fresh, trouble-free with very few missed putts to recall. Keeping score seemed at odds with the pleasure of simply playing the game.
Scrooge abruptly awoke to the sound of his mobile phone ringing. He answered to the sound of loud music and poker machines, and a familiar voice called him by name.

“Scrooge! We’re at the pub! We’ve got a pass out for the night!” yelled Rob Ratchit, his Saturday playing partner of nearly 10 years. “Come in, mate!” cried Rob before the phone went dead.

He could imagine the boys scoffing down chicken schnitzel’s and guzzling down ale recollecting their rounds shot-by-shot – with perhaps special emphasis on his odious, stingy display.

“Let’s drink for Scrooge,” Rob would say, ”But not for his golf game!”. The other lads would roar with laughter.

With more than just a tinge of FoMo, Scrooge redialled the number only to get the answering machine of the pro shop. Confused and yawning, Scrooge retired to bed and was soon in the throes of a nightmare.

The snores of Scrooge carried him to a dark room with a large TV screen on one wall. A shadowy figure inserted a DVD and the final moments from the Open Championship sprung to life. “Wait, this hasn’t been played yet?” Scrooge mused.

He was entranced as he watched Jason Day, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman locked in battle on the final hole.

Three small children then begun playing in the corner of the dark room. Scrooge barely noticed at first, entranced by the future golf game playing out before him. He could not see the children’ faces but their voices grew louder. Soon he struggled to hear the commentary and when their shadowy figures moved between him and the screen, he could no longer see the TV at all.

“Out of the way! Out of the way!” Scrooge screamed. The screen went blank and the children vanished.

The screen flashed on again and he saw himself pushing a trolley around with his wife and kids, through the eyes of a CCTV camera. Different shops, different weekends flashed in front of his eyes. His gait became more languid and insipid with each frame. It was hideous. He was clearly seeing himself spending every future Saturday in the shopping mall.

He woke in a cold sweat, jumped out of bed, rushed to the laptop and took his golf clubs off eBay. He phoned Rob to find out where he was and apologise for his behaviour that day. His wife told him that Rob had been home all night and to stop calling at this time of the night.

The night had rattled Scrooge out of his self-pity and had no further nightmares like those. He lived out a happy golfing life; often playing 18 holes without scoring, laughed with playing partners after a poor drive and smiled each time he passed the shopping mall on the way to golf.

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