Helen Martin: Tee time is very serious business

I don't know if you watched the recent TV programme on Donald Trump's battle to build his golf course in Aberdeenshire.

Himself was deeply embarrassed. He's a golfer you see, and golfers didn't come out too well in this documentary which followed Trump's determination to build a massive golf and tourist attraction whose acreage kept on expanding to take in and obliterate the homes of local people.

"This'll be a great tee," he enthused, striding across the naturally beautiful landscape that will never really be beautiful again once it's tamed, plugged by holes, flags and greens, and scarred by expensive accommodation units.

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The little farmer-fisherman who was in his way, along with the couple who had invested years of their lives in converting an abandoned coast guard station into their beloved, family home were, according to Trump, the grasping baddies of the piece, their properties dismissed as "eyesores".

Into this already tense and confrontational debacle, strode Trump Junior, whose sensitivity to local issues made even his father seem like Santa Claus.

It was as if the Sopranos had come to the Menie Estate, even changing the name of the big hoose to MacLeod House after Trump's mother Mary MacLeod. She, as Trump never let us forget, came from Stornoway. All this was in memory of her. He was, after all "Scattish".

We all recognise it as Local Hero with an unhappy ending - all for a golf course - of which there are already hundreds, if not thousands, in Scotland. And all held sacred, including the North Inch golf course in Perth where plans to put one of the supports for the proposed 26 million footbridge over the Tay on the green at the 15th have caused horror and outrage.

It has - and I do not exaggerate - been called "a tragedy" and "ruination of a spiritual home". Golfers are intense about their sport.

Wives of golfers are only too aware of this, not least because golf isn't something husbands can do for an hour.

A decent round takes four hours, half a day. Tee-off times are booked with ridiculous precision . . 8.27am for example. And man knows no greater loyalty than to his golf buddies.

If your washing machine is leaking all over the floor, the dog has to be taken to the vet and you've a dinner party to cater for that night, he'll wave you a cheery farewell, promising to "help later" as he happily chugs off down the path lugging his golf bag to get there for 8.27.

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Ah yes . . the bag, and the rest of the kit. Some sports require a pair of shorts, perchance a racket. But if you live with a golfer you live in a house where no storage is ever enough. It's not just one golf bag and all the clubs; there's a spare somewhere "just in case".

Washing machines, vacuums and pets are all at risk of wooden and plastic tees that fall out of pockets, turn up in every household ornament with an orifice and even find their way into your make-up bag. There are stud things that go on shoes, and more little metal things to take the studs in and out, not to mention the muddy, grassy, shoes themselves.

The golf wife knows not to panic when she hears a strange rumbling and clunking from the back of the car. It's not the engine, it's stray golf balls stuffed in door trays, in the boot and on the floor.

Looking for that new, fluffy, white, hand towel you left in the bathroom ready for the aforementioned dinner party? It too is on its way to the first tee for 8.27. Apparently golf clubs need their bottoms or tops wiped or something and that "seemed about the right size . . . how did I know it was special?".

Now you may be under the impression that golf is just a good walk spoiled, on a reasonable walking day. In my experience golf is played in any weather providing the course is open and not under snow.

Himself, and everything he is wearing, comes back muddy and wet. I have just washed the kitchen floor tiles. There's a dinner party tonight, remember? He winds up stripping off on the doormat accusing me of control-freakery as I frantically try to grab muddy trews before he drops them on the clean floor.

And there are many worse than him. Some years ago a man actually died on Himself's golf course. The police were summoned and asked if anyone other than those who reported it had seen the body. Yes, it transpired a four had teed off earlier in the day. They in turn were interviewed and asked why they hadn't alerted someone. Apparently they fully intended to "mention it in the pro shop once we'd finished the round"!