The Idiot and the Child


St. Andrews, Scotland

October 8, 2018

John Updike  wrote, ” . . . golf appeals to the idiot in us, and the child.”  That about sums it up.

For fifty years now I’ve been pursuing this idiocy with childlike fervor.  And today, here at St. Andrews, the ancestral home of golf,  I brought it to a new level; maybe not a high level, but a new one.

I opened with what has become my ritual: tea and a Walker’s Shortbread cookie in my room.  A wee taste of Scottish culture (note the thistle colored tartan on my blankie)


And then it was off to the St. Andrews Golf Academy

Image result for st andrews golf academy

And this young man.

This is Mike Lander. I want to be Mike when I grow up.

Did you know in Scotland there is a college major in golf studies?  Says right here in Mike’s bio that at 16 he decided to enrol (apparently, they drop the second “L” in Scotland) as a student at Myerscough College to study a National Diploma in Golf Studies. (They also drop prepositions). This apparently covered ‘all things golf; coaching, technology & equipment as well as sports science; physiology, psychology & biomechanics.” (The psych emphasis was put to the test with me) Mike completed this course with high distinction and went on to the University of Central Lancashire where he studied a BA Honours in Golf Coaching & High Performance (again with the frugal prepostions).

Mike and I worked on my swing for three hours and in the space of those wee three hours I learned that much of what I have been doing for 50 years was . . . just a wee bit . . . wrong.

My stance was too upright; my feathery grip too tight at the top; my swing plane too upright; my descent too steep, yada, yada, yada. I worked with a wrist hanger, a noodle, and more directional guidance systems than NASA.

I now have a video account at the St. Andrews Academy with all of my lessons (more to follow this week) And I even have a video app to remind me just how screwed up my swing is.

The Rob on the left is the old idiot; the Rob on the right is the new idiot.


DVDs are available in the lobby. I will be here all week.

After a morning session with Mike, I took to the links . Was a wee bit breezy.  Came in runner up in the Archie look-a-like contest.


Was a very pleasant round all by myself on the windswept Strathtyrum Course, the high point of which was driving the green on a downwind four par and just missing the eagle putt.

I’m at a loss for words to explain the childlike joy this idiocy brings. I’ll leave it to John:

I have asked myself what the peculiar bliss of this demanding game is, a bliss that at times threatens to relegate all the rest of life, including the sexual concerns that Freud claims are paramount and those even more basic needs that Marx insists must be met, to the shadows.

“The immensities of space, beside which even polo and baseball are constricted pastimes, must be part of it. To see one’s ball gallop two hundred and more yards down the fairway, or see it fly from the face of an 8-iron clear across an entire copse of maples in full autumnal flare, is to join one’s soul with the vastness that, contemplated from another angle, intimidates the spirit, and makes one feel small.”


Updike was right




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