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What Makes Playing Golf in Australia Totally Different

By: | Tue 11 Apr 2023

THERE is one major downside in travelling to Perth in Western Australia - it takes forever to get there. More accurately, if you fly via Kuala Lumpur, with a two-hour stopover, you are facing around 18 hours in a plane.

It’s a grind, let me tell you. But when you emerge from the airport you are rewarded with unbroken blue skies, sunshine and temperatures that hover around the 30C mark.

Why am I telling you this? I have just returned from a 23-day holiday that took in KL, Melbourne and Perth. And I was lucky enough to play a bit of golf at a course called Secret Harbour, which is located about 20 miles from Perth city centre.

And I have to tell you that golf in this part of the world is very different.

Obviously, the weather is the big thing. When you play golf there you do so in a buggy because if you choose to carry your clubs you are going to be on your knees by the time you stagger off the 18th green. You also plaster your body in sun lotion and you wear a hat. Always!

You make sure that you have lots of water because it is essential that you keep yourself hydrated.

It sounds like hard work. It isn’t.

The thing that really struck me about my time Down Under is that club golfers seem to enjoy themselves rather more than we do here in the UK.

Secret Harbour is a members’ club but it has a pay-and-play feel. No matter where you are on the course you hear laughter and banter. And here’s the thing - it is a tricky golf course with lots of water hazards and plenty of thick rough, scrub and bushes.

The bunkers are deep and plentiful and the greens have lots of slopes and are lightning fast. All of that means that the pace of play can sometimes be pretty funereal.

You don’t need me to tell you that slow play is a huge issue in the UK. It infuriates many of us who play the game. In Australia, club golfers take slow play in their stride. Nobody stands in the middle of the fairway angrily leaning on a club and giving those ahead of them the evil eye. Nobody harangues fellow golfers when they catch up with them on the tee. Instead, there is banter, and plenty of it. But it is all good-natured.

During a four-and-a-half hour round you will see plenty of the man in the concession cart. And lots of beer is consumed during and after the round.

Of course it is easy to play golf with a smile on your face when you wake up in the morning, open the curtains and look outside and see glorious weather. Even during the winter in Perth, daytime temperatures hover around 15-18C.

It can rain. And it can rain heavily. But you will never have your course closed because of snow or frost. The only thing that will ever stop play is lightning. And the thunderstorms in that part of the world can be pretty spectacular.

So what’s the conclusion from all of this? Easy. People in Western Australia enjoy their golf because of the weather - and because Australia is a nation of laid back people.

While in Perth I also experienced my first Aussie rules football match. This is a sport that features two teams of 18 players and is a combination of rugby, shinty, Gaelic football and athletics. It is played on a massive pitch. The Optus stadium in Perth holds in excess of 60,000 people. And the Aussies know how to put on a show. Do they ever!

Rock music, flares, flashing lights. It is an assault on the senses. And, again, the fans enjoy it - and they mingle with opposition fans without the slightest hint of aggravation.

Sport in Australia is different. And it is something to be celebrated. As a nation, we could learn so much from them.

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