I have completed exactly one half of one round of golf in my forty (mumble mumble) years of living. One and a half if you count a round of Crazy Golf at Seaworld when I was nine.
Only time has told me how lucky I was with my first posting out of training. I became a part of a leadership team which set the gold standard for me. I can’t remember the exact figures but at 24 years of age I was granted the privilege of Platoon Command of 50 or so Transport drivers along with the machines they operated. Typical of me that I felt way out my depth and definitely far too focused on not making an idiot of myself. The fact was that, like most junior Officers, I was carefully being allowed to make the mistakes I needed to make for professional development.
Any ability I have to laugh at myself has really only appeared alongside grey hairs and wrinkles. Like most young service women, my chief focus was to prove myself worthy of the responsibility and the equal of the men. Serious, dedicated, overly conscious of my (frankly non existent) professional reputation. Extremely conservative in manner and appearance. If I’m honest fairly prickly and uncomfortable in social situations – farm fresh and awkward.
Company Golf Day at the Golf Course dawned bright and clear. A beautiful sunny, bright blue sky day. The only time in my life I had seen a golf course until then was running past one during PT at Duntroon. Having carefully checked the dress code, I presented myself in my best Navy Polo shirt with the Young Endeavour Crew Emblem on the breast pocket, carefully ironed linen shorts with my best hand braided leather belt, spotless white socks and joggers. Waist length curly brown hair carefully washed & styled in a mature and professional looking neat casual manner.
The golf course was a balm to a country girl who didn’t like living in the city much. Waterbirds in the dam, green grass, warm sun, papyrus on the waters edge gently waving in the breeze. Just a relief and a joy to be outside on a beautiful day. Great chance to get to know a couple of my soldiers and one of my section commanders a bit better.
Things were going OK. I’d managed to hit the ball a few times. A bit of light conversation set the mood. I lined up the ball like I’d seen in the movies and gave it a whack. It flew off somewhere in the direction of the dam (sorry Water Trap). We wandered on over in a social manner and found my ball on the edge of the water resting on the far edge of a papyrus mat.
No problem – I’ll just reach out with the stick and hook it in (oh – it’s called a golf club is it? OK). Can’t reach it standing? No problem – squat down for a bit more reach. Still can’t reach? Still no problem – I only need to get a few more inches reach. I wasn’t going to lie on my stomach in my good clothes. The edge looks pretty solid – should be OK to step out.
Picture “Creature from the Black Swamp” meets Benny Hill “Carry on Golfing”. Straight in – all the way – up to the chin – golf club, car keys and all.
To this day I do not know how the people with me ever kept a straight face. I sincerely hope they took that yarn back to the Soldiers Boozer and laughed until their sides hurt.
I did the stealth run, utilizing all available cover, back to the car, hoping like hell no-one saw me (yeah right!). In for a quick shower and change to clothes resembling as close as possible the original outfit and walked back into the club house just as my team was finishing.
Not a smile, not a snigger, not even a chortle – from anyone – even the barman.
The OC might have had the ghost of a smile on his face when he asked:
“Did you enjoy your first round of golf?”
“Yes Sir, very much Sir, thank you.”
Bloody golf – waste of a good walk.