As an avid angler (therefore by definition dull and unexciting) I often get asked by the lads at work why I go fishing; “……..it’s boring though, just sitting by a pond in the rain all day….” In my defence, most of them are golfers, so I thought I would compare the two pastimes to see if it really is worth going fishing. To help me achieve this task, I enlisted the help of one of Staffordshire’s top golf players and asked him just why he plays….
He is known as a fashionista, the lurid pink patterned Pringle sweaters only serve to heighten the ruddy glow of his soft cheeks, and the matching yellow chequered trousers (tight across the bottom area) can be twinned with sleek white shoes to create something truly stunning as he swishes around the clubhouse. Alternatively, the angler wears warm, waterproof, yet stylishly practical camouflaged or sensible green attire coupled with study boots….
The angler has little need to practice the cast several times without the bait before the actual cast is made. A couple of gentle lobs until the correct distance is found before ‘clipping up’ and that’s it. The golfer on the other hand, must stand in front of his chums, with feet splayed shoulder width apart, (anything else is just SO wrong!), and rashly swipe his club at an imaginary ball several times before the shot is attempted; this action must be completed in front of at least 3 similarly dressed cohorts whilst efforts are made not to split yellow chequered trousers….
When it comes to the moment of “teeing off”, Mr. Pringle must cast a glance across the whole course before the shot is played. He would have you believe that this is to ensure the fairway (which he is of course, guaranteed to hit) is clear of any other garishly clad company who may be struck by a wayward ball. In reality, it is to see who is watching to appreciate his sweetly struck drive into the far distance and then applaud appropriately in thinly veiled awe. The angler is unlikely to be troubled by anyone sitting in the water in front of him, and should that improbable event occur, he will politely miss by inches as the 2oz lead impacts the water without so much as a knowing glimpse at the angler in the next peg……
“Slow play”, the act of slowing down the following party by being guilty of not being quite as competent as Mr. Pringle (usually lady golfers I’m told, but occasionally may apply to ‘men’) and is seen as a cardinal sin. It often leads to much advice being administered between groups, (commonly known as bitching) and the threat of physical violence, (commonly known as bitch slapping). “Playing through” may be an option, but must be achieved with maximum speed to show prowess and the slower players should stand with heads bowed. The angler just finds another peg when confronted by another party and is known to share his toys….
Hazards are many and varied on the golf course. Soft sandy bunkers, trees, water, and even the threat of nasty long grass can completely spoil Mr Pringle’s day as each one takes its toll on his carefully pressed apparel and may even leave a horrid scuff mark on his soft leather shoes. Each one will lead to a (highly pitched) squeal of utmost despair and the hateful stare at his club (for it cannot be HIS fault!). His polyester clad attendees can only watch and groan in an indulgent manner… The angler uses such cover to his advantage, and the only time he sees soft sand is on the beach at Benidorm. If desired, (and only in sympathy) the angler can cast a carefully prepared rig into the nearest tree, but he knows that a deft flick will retrieve it without effort and no song and dance need be made…..
The weather; the angler takes shelter only if absolutely necessary in the face of hurricanes, tornadoes, whirlwinds, tidal waves or other impending doom, and NEVER EVER stops fishing! To do so would be a reduction in manliness and the offending angler would never be allowed back to the waterside or would do the decent thing and take up golf. To my knowledge, this has never happened, and probably never will. Mr Pringle however carries a slightly oversize umbrella around with him to shield him from the blanching effects of harsh sunlight and has been known to skip towards the sanctuary of the clubhouse should a darkened cloud appear….
The angler, like the golfer, likes the best equipment. To catch his quarry, the angler will spend only what is required and will leave enough for a pint of ale and the housekeeping; he has little need for replacement kit once he has a set up with which he is content as he is reliant on acquired knowledge to improve his chances. Mr Pringle will constantly seek the newest accoutrements and the ever evasive “bestest, super carbon fibre steel flexi twist shafted, sticky gripped, wedgie angled, teflon coated club in the world” and then the “dimpled, wimpled, speedy spinner ball” with which to enhance his game as the only thing he can progress is his tool….
Mr Pringle may get a “hole in one”. To an angler, this means he has managed by some fluke to hit a small ball into a distant hole. To the golfer, this may well mean an embarrassing seam failure on his chequered yellow trousers…..or worse…. If it is indeed the act of hitting the ball into the well marked hole (you wouldn’t want to look too hard for the target when there are so many nice clothes and fine chaps to look at would you?..) then the golfer must be prepared to buy Pimm’s for the entire clubhouse; if it has recently rained, this may prove expensive. Once the act has been accomplished, then the Mr Pringle must seek to go and do it again. The hole doesn’t get smaller, the hole doesn’t get further away, it doesn’t in fact become any more difficult…. The angler, once he has caught a target fish, can either seek to catch a mightier specimen, or move to a more difficult water where his skills can be tested further. (In the rain if you want to!)
The angler can fish successfully in the dark, the golfer will still be trying to find his balls with his associates in a gloomy field…..
Having written this, and read it through several times, I rest my case. Angling is infinitely better than golf; I know I’d far rather hold my rod aloft and smell of fish than grip a slick shaft among friends whilst wearing nylon…..but each to their own. If you enjoy golf I will not accuse you of being dull because you doing what you want to do, but I will ask you to bugger off and let me fish in peace when you tell me it’s better than angling.......
Clint Walker, 2010