GOLF is a sport steeped in the past; a sport that prides itself on arcane rules, a sport that cherishes Victorian etiquette, a sport that stubbornly insists on 19th century dress codes. Well. Err. Not in Essex it doesn’t ...
In 2010 Camilo Villegas appeared in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, performing his remarkable putt-reading technique without a stitch of clothing on, proving in the process that he is 100% athlete and 0% fat.
Last year Gary Player followed Villegas’ example and did what only Gary Player can do, which is look better than most men half his age. Actually, make that most men a quarter his age. Yes, the South African proved that being 78-years-old is no barrier to a naked photo shoot.
Or is it? Player famously refuses to eat dairy produce because of the calorific threat to his waistline and completes the pincer attack on his belly with a regime of 1,000 crunches a day.
Most male golfers don’t do that. Especially male club golfers.
Ergo most male club golfers wouldn’t take their kit off and have their photograph taken…
Remember the Calendar Girls? They made a film about them: 12 middle-aged ladies from a Women’s Institute in Yorkshire sought a positive response to the loss of a member’s husband to Leukaemia.
Their idea was a calendar; a calendar with photographs of themselves in it; photographs of themselves naked, their modesty protected by quintessentially English items, such as flowers, cakes and pianos; a calendar that would celebrate life and raise money for a great cause.
And guess what? The world went mad for it; the world went mad for people doing something a little bit bonkers.
Because the Women’s Institute has a reputation for being old school, for being stuffy and for always playing by the rules. A bit like golf …
Meet the members of Southend Golf Club.
Do they adhere to a diet like Gary Player? Probably not.
Are their bodies ripped like Camilo Villegas? Not really. (Not really? No. No, they’re not.)
Are they up for a challenge like the Calendar Girls? Oh yes.
Ian Southgate, head of the club’s charity committee, had the brainwave. He’d noticed his social media was full of charity challenges and he remembered the Calendar Girls.
He put two and two together and came up with a number that definitely wasn’t four.
Where the Calendar Girls used artfully placed cakes and pianos, Southgate thought the golfers could use lawnmowers, and #nomownate was born.
“It’s greenkeeping with a difference,” says Southgate, in one of the world’s great understatements.
“You take your clothes off, pose with the lawnmower and take a snap. Just make sure you keep it cheeky - nothing rude! Then you post the photo to social media, donate £3 and #nomownate three friends to join in.”
The donation process is simple: you either visit www.JustGiving.com/nomownate or text NMNT88 to 70070.
“The response has been amazing,” continues Southgate. “Everyone has been getting really creative and sometimes it is the least likely golfers who’ve had the best fun.”
You can say that again. Past captains, county captains - the sort of golfers most people expect to be wearing knee-length socks and have stiff upper lips appear to be having the time of their lives.
Because if the #nomownate photographs have one thing in common it is the glint in the participant’s eyes. It has the feel of an unscreened episode of Dad’s Army, one where they threw their kit off and found to their surprise they rather liked it.
Southgate says: “We’ve had photographs sent from all over England and now we’re getting them from overseas. We kicked off at the end of May and we’ve already raised over £2,700.
“Any golfers from around the world, can join in - the more the merrier! We think it’s a great way for golfers to have a bit of fun and contribute to a great cause.” Dress codes? Crunches? Pah. Who needs them?