Determined stowaways crouching in the wheel well of a 747 have more chance of a cheery G’day from scratchy officials than law-abiding holidaymakers with grubby golf shoes. A torturous 23-hour 10509-mile journey is followed by an equally tedious wait in the Welcome to Australia queue. Finally I’m met by a hat wearing and badged-up Bruce who asks without a trace of irony what’s in the bag I’m wheeling along emblazoned with giant Titleist lettering.
“I’m going to go out on a limb here and say golf clubs,” I responded similarly dead panned. “Step this way please,” he shot back as he led me to the guilty people counter.
I clutched my passport firmly in hope that being born under the sovereignty of the Crown, Bruce and I might be able to settle this the old fashioned way. But as time passed it soon became apparent not even the Queen’s subjects are exempt from undeserving vilification.
Suddenly my timid risk free life was laid bare for all to see. The golf bag was up ended onto a metal slab reserved only for drug mules and medical examinations, or so it seemed. “Hello, hello, hello,” he uttered self-contently emptying pockets and rifling through my treasured pile of graphite shafts and metal woods as discarded tees and golf balls dived for cover off the autopsy table’s edge. Preppy tourists peered across in our direction curious as to the thunderous racket blighting the environment.
And then he found them. Gripped in his gloved paw he slowly raised one pair of size 5 ladies Nike Air golf shoes. The snooping crowds gasped. Admittedly they weren’t the virginal shade of white they had once been. Instead more the disheveled, muddied and well-worn look of someone in search of Northern Hemisphere fairways during winter months.
Seve would have been proud but alas not so the case with Bruce. A lengthy lecture on soil contamination ensued including extracts of the Quarantine Act of 1906 recited with intriguing precision. Just as I was preparing myself for a lifetime in this seven circle of hell, a set of shiny santised golf clubs and shoes arrived minus the forbidden dirt thanks to some deep steam clean treatment courtesy of Bruce.
I thanked my new Aussie mate with an anxious apology and a spirited giggle. “Welcome to Australia!” he snapped and was off.