Bogey, bunker, birdie: Get past the jargon and tee off
Writer Mark Twain once famously said that golf is “a good walk spoiled”, but for Doha residents, where grassy knolls are few and far between, surely there can be no downside to a sport that requires you to walk amongst gentle hills and tranquil lakes.
Golf is the thinking man’s sport and with confusing terms like bogey, bunker and birdie it’s no wonder why. To play well requires concentration and co-ordination. While you might need to be smart, the good news is you don’t necessarily have to be fit. Pro player John Daly who is famously overweight and under-conditioned has two major championships under his belt.
While you might need to be smart, the good news is you don’t necessarily have to be fit.
That doesn’t mean that there are zero health benefits; a 2009 study from Colorado, USA, showed that golfers who play 36 holes a week burn about 2,900 calories a week which is enough to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The proviso, of course, is that you walk the course, rather than driving around in a golf cart. However, if you’re just starting and aren’t quite up to staying on your feet for a full round you can alternate walking between holes with a partner who brings the cart up or park the cart on the cart path so you have to walk to and from it to play the ball.
The handicapping system used in golf means that people of different levels can play together making it a fantastic social sport. But whether you’re a beginner or an expert, no one is safe from the frustration that golf evokes. In fact, a golf club thrown in angry rage is not an uncommon cause of injury. Other injuries relate to the back, shoulders and arms (namely elbow, wrist and fingers) so it’s important you learn correct technique and warm up before playing.
An 18-hole round typically takes four to five hours, while nine holes takes around 2.5 hours. This means that those who want to get into the sport need to be prepared to spend a lot of time on it. You might also need to spend a bit of money. A passion for golf does not come cheap: a full set of clubs can cost up to QR 9,000 for the premium range. Then there’s the obligatory membership to the golf club. Once you’re really into it you might also need gloves, spiked shoes and clothing that complies with the strict dress codes that many clubs hold. But that’s a bit further down the green.
If you’re living in Doha (and were no doubt inspired by this year’s Commercial Bank Open) you can use many of the facilities of the Doha Golf Club without signing up for all the tees and woods. The Club’s Qatar Golf Academy offers lessons to non-member adults, kids and groups and if you want to blow off some steam while practicing your swing, you can have a hit on the driving range for just QR 30 for 50 balls. That’s a bit more expensive than a walk around the park but it’s worth it for the scenery and the health benefits.