In hindsight, I should have spoken to the PGA about it. But as a one who has had to develop the hide of a rhinocerous to continue to love golf, I detached myself from the surreal experience. I observed what was happening during this golf lesson like an out of body experience. It was the still politically incorrect nineties when people got away with a lot more than they do now. Without a word of embellishment, I had written down what he had said after the lesson because he made me laugh so much after the event, here is what happened when I encountered the most sexist man in golf.
A brand new driving range had opened not far from my home. This is good I thought and set off there to practice. Business had been slow to pick up because there weren’t many people around, apart from a busy bar.
As I set about practicing with my driver the professional came by and tutted. “That’s quite a fade you’ve got there, you’ll never get any distance. I take it you can hit a draw?” I said I could but the other trajectory came more easily.
“I can fix that” he said “Special offer, twenty quid. Half an hour and I’ll have you drawing the ball sweet as a nut”. He was obviously bored and in need of something to do and was touting for business.
“Tempting, but no” I replied. I already had a wonderful teacher who said very little. I saw him rarely because his lessons were expensive but he inspired confidence. He stood and watched me hit balls and at the end of half an hour said something like “that’s a super swing. Fifty pounds please.” The only time he ever got agitated was when I had asked him for a putting lesson. He blanched a shade of white because the yips had ended his career on tour and he vigorously declined.
“Oh go on” whined the golf range pro. “A free trial lesson. Once I’ve taught you you’ll never want lessons off anyone else”. I teach Bimbo and Dimbo you know” (he mentioned the names of two professional golfer sisters).
Perhaps to shut him up I agreed to the free lesson the following day. It didn’t augur well from the beginning and I should have cut and run in hindsight. This is what happened at the 2pm lesson.
1.55 Pro: “You’re early, you’re very keen”.
Me: (cynically) “Perhaps not, I may be going to the bar”.
Pro: “You don’t want to do that. Hitting golf balls in a drunken stupour is the perogative of us professionals. You want to come to this range, buy lots of balls and practice till you’ve got rid of that nasty slice of yours”.
Me: (annoyed) “well I could take my aggro out on them I suppose”.
Pro: “You don’t want to have aggro, it’s not ladylike. Come to think of it though, not many women golfers are. Take that (name of famous female professional). You wouldn’t pass the soap to her in the shower now would you? I mean look over in the car park. That’s the Lady Captain from the club up the road with her girlfriend on the bag. One wink from her and you’re in trouble. But if I wink atcha that’s different, know what I mean?”
2.00 Me – Takes out irons and starts to practice.
Pro – examines the irons with disgust. “What on earth are these? You’ll never hit the ball with these, no wonder you’ve got a terminal slice. I can do you a deal, titanium A shaft perimiter weighted only set you back fifteen hundred quid”.
Me – “What do you think I am, made of money?”
Pro – “I reckon you are by the looks of you, all that Lacoste. I bet you’re rolling in it. I reckon you could bankroll me thirty grand to play the tour for a couple of months. You could do it, couldn’t you? I’ve always wanted to play the tour I know I’ve got the talent, you do want to do that don’t you?”
Me – “no”.
2.10 Pro – (bored with watching me hit golf balls accurately)- “I’ve got it. You’re Nick Faldo’s bird aren’t cha? You’re that Brenna Cepalak. My sources at IMG tell me everything. I knew all about you before the Sun broke the story. You’re an Icon Brenna, though I’d toss Faldo aside like an old sock if I were you. You don’t want Faldo, all the girls have had Faldo, he’s had loads of them. He’s a lot like me. I’m incorrigable. Get them in my Ford Escort down on Farnham Common. I’m like a drug to them. Everytime I go down Pantiles I pull, I have to fight them off. I go down there on my own and I pull everytime”.
Me – (looks at pro who is 5 feet 4, rotund and has thinning hair with amazement).
2.20 Me. “Look this is all very fascinating but don’t you want to see my swing?” (Demonstrates swing that makes pro turn a shade of green).
Pro – “You don’t want to do that! Look – tick tock, round the clock. Fifty times a day, everytime you see a mirror watch your swing, that will keep your head up”.
Me – “All right then, let’s see you hit the ball”.
2.30 Pro – “BOOM! I’m in awe of myself. Did you see that I’m a God that’s what I am, But you. We have a lot of work to get you sorted out, hundreds of lessons, now where are we going for my birthday …”