I’ve been playing golf, on and off, for over 30 years. And when I say playing, what I really mean is toiling through grim ineptitude. I’m sure many of you feel the same. 

In all this time spent clattering and thwacking at a stationary ball, there’s never been much improvement or sustained accomplishment. Any evidence of proficiency tends to come in fitful bursts, rather like those spontaneous squeaks of awkward flatulence when I bend down to begin the pained rummage for an errant hoik into a gorse bush. It can be a sair fecht.

There are days when you start a round with a nine, a six and an eight. And on other days, you just can’t get a score going at all. With this enthusiastic incompetence in mind, I took my four-year-old son to the driving range at the weekend because, as Wodehouse once observed, ‘golf, like the measles, should be caught young’. It’s never too early, after all, to start nurturing the timeless attributes of patience and humility that are woven into the fabric of this grand game. 

So, how did it all go, I hear you ask? Well, there were tantrums, hissy fits, outbursts and flustered gasps of resigned agitation. And that was just from his fumbling faither trying to dig the cut-down clubs out of a jam-packed car boot. “Cherish this moment, my son,” I whispered as he vigorously swiped at the ba’ like a startled farmhand thrashing at a scurrying rat with a push hoe. “A lifetime of golfing futility lies before you.”

Futile endeavours, as we all know, tend to be par for the course in this captivating yet infuriating pursuit. “This game has made cry-babies out of all of us at one time or another,” suggested Tom Kite back in the day. You need hardy resolve and great mental fortitude to deal with golf’s fickle fortunes and, in this hapless correspondent’s case, its downright absurdities.

The weekend winners on both the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour certainly displayed their strength of character as they provided heart-warming tales of recovery, resilience and redemption. The colourful German Marcel Siem, decked out in a flooery shirt that looked like something on display at a Dobbies Garden Centre, won the Hero Indian Open, his first DP World Tour crown since November 2014.

Over in the USA, Chris Kirk ended his eight-year drought with a nail-nibbling success in the Honda Classic. While a lot was made of the fact that only eight of the world’s top 50 were competing in Florida, Kirk’s play-off triumph more than made up for the absence of star names as he provided a compelling and emotional storyline. Back in 2019, he stepped away from golf to deal with alcoholism and depression. This victory, the fifth of the former world No 16’s career, was a major milestone in his journey of rehabilitation.

For Siem, meanwhile, victory number five on the European circuit was perhaps his most meaningful. From a profitable, purposeful spell in the world’s top 50 during his pomp, Siem had endured a few years of hardship. Having feasted on the fine fare at the top table for many a season, returning to the no frills Challenge Tour was akin to eating a cold tin of beans under a bridge. His stint back on the second-tier a couple of years ago was certainly an eye-opening experience. When you’re used to the trappings of the main circuit – big prize funds, courtesy cars and the kind of bended knee mollycoddling that used to be the reserve of a pampered diva – the harsh coalface of the Challenge Tour can be about as glamorous as Albert Steptoe’s semmit.

"If you don’t accept that you have lost your tour card, and you still think you’re a European Tour player, and there should be a caddie around you, and you should be playing for two million euros, then you cannot compete on the Challenge Tour,” Siem once reflected of the mental hurdle he had to overcome to begin the rebuilding of his career. “You’re grumpy, you’re upset all the time. Once you accept where you are, that’s the only way forward.”

Siem did move forward and regained his full tour card but he was still forced to return to the dreaded qualifying school at the end of last year to win it back again. Amid the trials and tribulations, the professional doubts flooded the mind. He thought his days of competing, let alone winning, on the main circuit were over. Now, at 42, Siem is alive and kicking. “I think there’s more to come,” he cooed with energised anticipation.

The advancing years have never been a barrier to success in this game for all the ages. The previous weekend, Siem’s decorated German compatriot, the indefatigable Bernhard Langer, claimed a record-equalling 45th victory on the Champions Tour at the sprightly vintage of 65. Old Bernhard will probably still be winning when Siem reaches the golden oldies scene himself in eight years’ time.

For the time being, though, he can revel in a second coming. For both Siem and Kirk, persistence, perseverance and psychological grit has brought fulfilment once again. There’s a golfing lesson in there for all of us. Can I have another bucket of balls, please?