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Golf Punk

by Dave Richards  


Sports fans everywhere are counting down the days to July's big showpiece event. The World Cup Final? Are you mental? I'm on about the return of the Open Golf Championship to Royal Liverpool, which begins on July 20th. In response to Liverpool City Council inviting all residents of this great Metropolis to act as ambassadors and non-threatening helpers to tourists, Swine presents a handy guide to golfing on Merseyside's Municipal Courses, for any Yanks, Japs or Irish who might be popping over for the golfstravanganza and who fancy getting in a quick 18 holes.



Course Details 

Liverpool is blessed with a huge array of cheap and nasty Municipal ("Muny") Golf Courses. The city itself has Allerton (South Liverpool), Bowring Park (end of the M62 motorway), Kirkby (in a field somewhere by Switch Island ) and Bootle (The North End). Further afield there is St Michaels in Widnes, Sherdley Park in Tellins (that’s St Helens), Walton Hall Park (near Warrington ) and "over the water" there is Brackenwood, Arrowe Park and Hoylake. All these courses are within a 20 minute drive of Liverpool .



The Club Shop 

The casual visitor will undoubtedly head to the Club Shop on arrival at the course and look to book a tee-off time, rent a set of clubs and buy some balls. This is a mistake. Tee-off times need to be booked in advance, as the boozer league and the dole league will almost certainly have snaffled all available tees. Also, the club rental facility is no longer available, due to the club shop being emptied by ram-raiders earlier in the week. As for balls, I wouldn't bother as they will be available "on-course" for a tenth of the retail price (see below). So you need to phone the course and book a tee, which will almost certainly be some time after 5.00pm, and, unless you've brought your own clubs, get down to American Golf Discount for a set of cheap cavity backs.




The first thing to remember about your equipment is that it has to be low-key. Swine seriously recommends against getting out of your hire car and pulling out a "Power Caddy" and luxury rhino skin golf bag with "CALLOWAY BIG BERTHA TITANIUM" down the side, as they will almost certainly be heading out of the car-park in the back of a black-windowed Golf GTI before you've finished locking your boot. Other items of equipment that are frowned upon include Broomhandle putters (gay), gap wedges (ostentatious display of wealth) and umbrellas from company golf days (suckhole).



Dress Code 

Nobody who values their life should ever, under any circumstances, attempt to get on a Merseyside Muny wearing anything that Ronnie Corbett would wear. That means all the stereotypes of golf clobber are right out - no tartan kecks, no aunty hats, no Pringle rollnecks etc. All you need is a glove. Golf shoes are OK as long as they are all black or those nice Adidas ones with the green stripes that Langer used to have. Do not attempt to wear "spats". The rest of the kit is a combination of jeans/tracky bottoms/cargo shorts and Polo shirt/sweatshirt/hoody/tracky top. And a kagoul for the rain.




Quite simply - it's dog eat dog. Be prepared for people cutting in ahead of you, picking up your ball, flicking roaches on the green as you're putting or sniggering loudly as you reach the top of your backswing - and that's just the on-course security guard. Show no weakness. If some shaven-headed brute places his ball on your tee after you've waited 25 minutes to tee off, sternly tell him "You can fuck right off bollocks". Otherwise, you'll still be there until close of play (i.e. 1 hour after darkness). Other points of note: it is acceptable to tee off when the previous four ball have reached their nearest ball, it is unacceptable to spend more than 5 seconds lining up a putt, anything within 12 foot of the hole is a "gimme", it is acceptable to move your ball to a better lie or out of the rough (with no penalty) if it was a good drive/long iron that just had a "bad kick" or something, it is unacceptable to look for a lost ball if you have hit a decent, perfectly playable "provisional" - in fact as a general rule it is advisable to not look for a lost ball at any time as that's blatant "look at this twat" provocation to some people.




The First Tee 

The reason why Swine has a special section on the first tee is that this is without doubt the hardest shot in Muny golf. The casual visitor should expect some, or all, of the following: at least a one hour wait to tee off, at least 30 mean-looking delinquents in close proximity to the tee, your address to the ball being punctuated with the sound of cans being opened, joints being lit and assorted cackling, the sound of muffled laughter after a poor drive, the sound of groans and contemptuous remarks after a slice, the sound of threats to your person if your "second off the tee" goes the same way as the first, and total blank indifference if you cream one 250 yards down the fairway. Also be prepared to for weird loners to attempt to geg-in on your fourball. These must be avoided at all costs as they are usually mental patients on day release and are well known to course regulars - particularly "Mick The Manc" with his gammy leg and full sleeve of "Tommy Doc's Red Army" tattoos.




No, not bunkers, creeks, heavy rough or out of bounds. Amongst the more common hazards encountered on the Merseyside Munys are: hard dogs being walked down the fairway by ASBO youth, giant slag heaps (Bootle), motorcross riders (Bowring Park), "donuts" tyre marks  scorched on the green (ditto), low flying RC aircraft (Kirkby), gangsters living out their Capone Mob fantasies (the only time Big Al was shot was while out on the links, a gun went off in his bag by accident fact fans), juvenile ball pilferers, fly tippers, golf balls landing near you from other fairways or the tee you just came from, shards of glass in bunkers, bricks being thrown at you if you spend too long over a putt, plague  rats (Sherdley), Bhopal-style chemical poisoning (St Micks, Widnes ), braying parrot-headed whoppers who think they are Ian Poulter (over the water), little moody firms of Mancs (Walton Hall). In most cases it is acceptable to move your ball away from the hazard without penalty. In situations where a more "direct" approach is called for, Swine recommends that you utilize your "chipper" as a close combat cosh.



Juvenile Ball Sellers 

One common feature of the Muny is the prevalence of local gangs of urchins selling assorted golf wares on course. It is advised that you buy a fistfull of balls off them (usually 5 for a pound) and that way you can get them off your case quickly and painlessly. Under no circumstances should you abuse them or threaten to report them. At the very least they will hassle you for the rest of your round, and every time you address the ball they will be round your bag like dippers on a Yank. The worst case scenario would be for them to shoot your elbows off and steal all your gear to resell to the fourball behind. Be warned, don't fuck with these people.




Municipal dining facilities are quite specialised and as a result most locals will arrive at the tee with a goody bag full of bananas (for that "slow release of energy"), Mars Bars ("helps you work, rest and play") and 8 cans of Stella ("That's my ball, knobhead"). If you haven't brought any scoff of your own, you will almost certainly have to visit the course Burger Van. Well either that or starve cos you're looking at a 5 hour-plus round on the average Muny. The Burger Van usually stocks all the essentials - beef burgers, chicken burgers, turkey burgers, hotdogs, onions, brown and red sauce. And crisps. As with most outdoor Burger vendors, it's not worth geting wound up about hygiene issues such as "where does he piss", "what's that under his nails", "are burgers supposed to be pink" etc. And even if you decide that you'll pass on the grub, after waiting for 45 minutes to tee off on the Par 3 you'll end up succumbing to the noxious smell of fried dog meat in the end. It's all part of the great game that is Golf.




One final word about scoring. On a standard par 72 Muny, anyone who gets a score in the 70s has no place on the course as they are far too good. Anything in the 80s will be subject to a stewards enquiry and all invocations of the "lads rules" during the round will be brought up in an attempt to push the score into the 90s, e.g. "4 on the 18th? Piss off, you took 5 off the tee for starters" etc etc. Anything in the 90s or above will pass without comment and can be considered a "safe" score.

So that's it. Merseyside is the UK 's Golf Riviera (oh yes it is) so enjoy your round. Just follow Swine's simple guide, and as the great Rodney Dangerfield so eloquently put it in Caddyshack –“ I hear this place is restricted Wang, so don't tell 'em you're Jewish, okay?




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