Michael Parkinson on Golf

Mike Parkinson came late to golf. He is unashamed of his early hostility to the game, a useful reminder for golf fanatics that, even among sports enthusiasts, the rituals of golf are not so much a mystery as an absurdity to the unconverted.

As this collection of articles makes clear, however, for Mr Parkinson all that has changed. In a reversal of the more common order of things it was his wife, Mary, who took up the game first. After that breach of the anti-golfing front in the household, resistance was hard to sustain. He writes amusingly and sympathetically about both the tensions and lighter moments of golfing with a spouse.

The style is pleasantly free of any crusades, and reflects the experiences of a keen medium-handicap player who, like many others, took up golf in middle age and struggled with its all-consuming demands. Mr Parkinson’s strength is an ability to share with his readers his own delight at the opportunities his profession has provided to play with famous names from the sport and show-business worlds. Sensibly, the selection of pieces dilutes the name-dropping with hilarious accounts of club competitions, full of mishaps which will be all too familiar to the typical weekend golfer.

This book should be read for entertainment rather than insight, a stocking-filler rather than a main present, but is no less enjoyable for that.