I’m one of those people that becomes interested in certain sports for about a 3 to 4 week period immediately after that particular sport’s most prestigious tournament has been on TV. Awful isn’t it? Yes it is. After Wimbledon I love tennis, after the Ashes I love cricket, and after the Olympics I love everything except sailing which quite simply is not a spectator sport. At the moment, having just watched Europe win the Ryder Cup, I love golf (patriotism is marvellously fickle isn’t it? English one minute, British the next, and now European. All that’s left is for earth to take on another planet is some sort of sporting tournament).
Golf is hard to play. In many ways. It literally is hard to play; a tiny ball that has to be hit a really long way into a tiny hole. But it’s also expensive, and if you’re in London, it’s incredibly difficult to find somewhere to play that isn’t frighteningly exclusive or doesn’t require you to dress like Rupert the Bear (although the R the B look is about to hit Brick Lane big time). Search golf in London and you’ll find courses like Dulwich Golf Club. I wouldn’t even get past the gates.
So what do I do? Well, I’ve established two excellent options for people who have either rarely played before, can’t be bothered with the etiquette, don’t have a golfing handicap, or, like me, will lose interest as soon as the Euros (football) begin…
OK to make clear, there are two types of Urban golf. One is where people, within urban areas, place balls on small green mats and aim for bins and derelict buildings. This is a real, if ridiculous, thing, apparently enjoyed the world over. The Urban golf I’m referring to however, is a golf simulator. You can play at venues in Soho, Smithfield or Kensington. You do hit balls, into a screen, which then simulates where your ball will go according to your swing on a variety of famous courses. Each venue has a bar, and the whole thing is very relaxed and terrific fun. And most of all, as Urban Golf tell you, they are strictly ‘non-denimphobic’.
This is an actual golf club, complete with driving range, clubhouse, a 9-hole course and Range Rovers in the car park. But, most importantly, there is absolutely no dress code, and no minimum experience required. I recently played with my friend Dom, who looked, if you could imagine, like the opposite of a golfer, and yet as he asked questions like ‘Can I just use a driver for every shot?’, they didn’t even bat an eyelid. The sign outside might as well read ‘London Golf Centre: Philistines welcome’. But it’s great. It’s evidently not the best golf course in the world, and I noticed some key differences between this course and Augusta. For example, Augusta’s greens tend not to have mushrooms thriving on them, and the clubhouse probably doesn’t serve cheesy chips. But it’s cheap, friendly, and anyone can enjoy it. And best of all, it’s in Zone 2. Besides, why shouldn’t I be able to play golf? I never stopped golfers playing football on the horrible bit of grass at my local park when I was a kid. We all need to share and share alike.
So you can play golf in London. And who knows, if you’re good and not pathetically fickle like me, you might even be able to get a membership somewhere. But even as I write this I’m already getting bored of golf. It’s old news, what with the Snooker World Championship just a few short months away. Suddenly it all makes sense. Snooker. That’s my sport. And you don’t even have to go outside.
View Golf map in a larger map