I celebrated a ‘notable’ birthday the other day in the middle of a weekend of representative golf.I am lucky enough to play well enough, generally hovering around 6-8 handicap, to be selected into the Masters team for the West Coast and this weekend we were playing triangular matches against Nelson and Marlborough. We played at Westport and even though I play the course reasonably regularly and sort of ‘know’ it a practice round on Friday was in order so extended by 18 holes the already full weekend.

We won’t go into how well or otherwise the golf went (although I’m not about to slash my wrists because of the results) but rather how the body held up to the expectations!I have to admit I don’t do myself many favours by a sensible regime of fitness training, although I do feel I keep myself in reasonable shape in one way or another. Playing 18 holes starting at about 8am and then a hurried lunch to play another 18 in the afternoon is normally reasonably demanding, but this Saturday it blew. Boy! Did it blow! We are sheltered from the extreme winds on my home course and to battle into a howling northerly for half the round just made things a bit more of a challenge. Still with the aid of a bottle of V and other energy drinks before too long I got enough of a second wind to enjoy a few celebratory drinks with the guys and birthday shout.

The sky opened over night and the forecast for the next day seemed to be turning to fact but of course hope springs eternal. We woke to no stars and heavy overcast but no real rain so things looked promising- the magic word in the forecast yesterday was ‘clearing’. By the time we got to the course there seemed to be a lot less wind and that ‘clearing’ could be a fact, so off for the morning 18 with drizzly showers but not the headwind of the day before. Of course felt fresh and rested so armed with replacement ‘V’ and energy supplement drink away we went. Hmm- lunch seemed longer coming today, and there didn’t seem to be the same amount of time before my opponent started pacing around the first tee! Yes, there were a niggle or two here and there but nothing to speak of, and although the ‘clearing’ had turned out to be a bit of a teaser the weather wasn’t going to be a battle.Was it my imagination or had the uppy-downy bits become more uppy than downy? Was it my imagination or had the anti-inflammatory effect worn off? Was it my imagination or had someone loaded my bag with a couple kilo of bricks? To add insult to injury I played a ‘young’ guy- I reckon he only just qualified for ‘Masters’ division of 40+, (I first qualified 25 years ago!!) who could hit the ball a mile, and straight. Not fair! Still I went OK and managed to extend the match to a few holes from home before I made a total pig’s ear of two holes and the game was over. Of course it was some way from the clubhouse but the walk back beat the onset of proper rain, and I was packed away and in dry clothes before all but the surrounding hundred or so meters of the course disappeared and we celebrated the fact we were indoors. I had an urgent reason to be home so I made my farewells and started home (admittedly a wee bit earlier than I’d intended, but…) Of course an hour and a bit drive means things cool down in set positions and so when I got out of the car back in Greymouth there was a bit of a twinge here and a sharp pain or two there, but I convinced myself that a bit of a stretch, a couple of beers and a successful Warriors outing would make everything good.

And so it did until I crawled out of the sack next morning (fortunately I wasn’t required to be anywhere so there was no urgency). The aches were a bit more wide-spread, the twinges a bit more noticeable but a nice shower put paid to most of these inconveniences. But I was TIRED. Still…

So it was that I started wondering whether it might be time to stick with 18 holes a day a couple of times a week and let the younger ‘oldies’ take on the other young ‘oldies’ that seem to be in the majority on the teams. I’ve had a decent crack at it, wouldn’t it be fairer to make way for someone younger anyway? Have my results really been good enough to be selected anyway? Am I completely happy with the game I take away?

Or next year should I just spend a bit of time setting myself for competition better- start some fitness stuff, do some flexibility stuff, and go into the rep season better prepared for as many as up to 90 holes for a weekend? Yeah! That’ll do it. “LIFE SPRINGS ETERNAL” (or was that ‘hope’?)


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