Although I have often talked about my canal run, I have never mentioned that for part of the way it borders the Grove golf course. Partly this is because it does not affect the run - it is only a short stretch and somehow it does not seem to be part of the landscape. Partly it is because it brings out the grumpy old man in me.
It is not that I don't like golf as a sport (I actually think it is fascinating), but there are social attitudes that I find distressing and some of the courses with their artificial contours and alien grasses, kept unnaturally green by constant watering in times of water shortage, make me feel uneasy. I am also rather contemptuous of golf buggies. Surely the point of the game is to walk the five mile, as well as playing the strokes.
Whenever I run past the Grove I always look at the number of buggies and puff my chest out with some rather spurious sense of moral superiority: "Look at me I have just run all the way from Hemel and you lot can't even walk round the course." Then the inverted snobbery kicks in and I start to think about the difference in cost - I only needs trainers and a few bits of technical clothing, whereas the round of golf at such a course is an example of conspicuous consumption. (The green fee for one round of golf at the Grove is £125!). I always think this and then think I am being a bit earnest and pompous and tell myself to get back to the running. I can only worry about what I do for recreation, not what other people do.
It is only really the Grove that brings out this golf inspired grumpiness. On my other staple run, around Ashridge and Berkhamsted Common, I run on footpaths that cut across Berkhamsted Golf Club. But I think this course is rather lovely. It looks as if it has merely been cleared from the trees and bracken and follows the natural contours of the land, without even the intrusion of a sand trap. I run close to the golfers and sometimes pass a comment when they are looking for a lost ball near my path. They are playing their sport and I am engaged in mine and somehow that feels OK.
The reason I mention all this is because the Grove has just hosted a major tournament, won by Tiger Woods. It has been all over the news but for some reason it has always been described and "The Grove, Hertfordshire". Obviously "The Grove, Watford" is not posh enough.