Bobby socks are par for the course

I read your introductory article on golf (April issue) with interest. They say you get to know a person inside-out after a four-hour round of golf, and similarly, a round in France clearly points up national differences.

First off, there’s the notion of your rights: the benefit of the flag becomes le droit au drapeau; an improved lie is le droit de placer la balle (cleaned and nicely teed up on a tuft of grass a foot or two away); being invited by a slower party to play through is subtly turned into le droit de passage rather like flashing your headlights while you tailgate.

Then there’s the matter of vocabulary. Yes, a few words remain the same but for those that count the general tendency is to embellish: a hook is une banane, a divot is une escalope, a shank is une soquette (i.e. bobby socks, in which contact is made at the ankle of the club), a skied shot becomes une chandelle or roman candle, a bunker is la plage and the course is always referred to in the press as les greens, because it’s er… green and it’s quite big.

I take issue with the figure cited of 700,000 players in France. The official figure for licenciés has been fairly static at 410,000, though I suppose the other 290,000 could refer to those who go to le club-house for light refreshment. Also, Spain, Sweden and Germany have more continental world-class players than France. And finally, I was very surprised by the quote attributed to the executive director of the FFG, that working out at a driving range was like practising swimming on a stool. Don’t tell that to the world’s top players, who all spend hours each day at the range.
Geoff STAINES, Paris