THE only time that I can recall wearing a green jacket was for a series of television shows on racing. And what they paid me is probably less than the caddy of the winner of the US Masters will get as his contribution to the triumph. My only other acquaintance with a Green Jacket was a serving soldier from the regiment of that name who also doubled as a rather useful footballer. He actually bought himself out of the army to continue his career on the field. Ultimately, he did not reach the stratospheric heights of the Premier League or even the First Division but he probably got out in time anyway as the regiment, if memory serves, was devastated by defence cuts. It's hard to miss the US Masters with blanket press and television coverage of the Augusta classic even if the significance of the green jacket escapes me. One assumes that the figures on the winner's cheque are what matter most. One of the more intriguing stories to emerge earlier last week was that Greg Norman had required counselling after blowing a six-stroke lead in the final round last year. He had to be 'flushed out' as he rather dubiously put it. Not that one should be truly surprised. Golf has not figured largely in the catalogue of my sporting activities over the years and, given the actions of a number of my acquaintances who play the game, I am not at all certain that I am missing too much. Except, possibly, a heart attack. As a breed, determined and dedicated amateur golfers border on the amazing. Most of them are very decent family men who conduct themselves with complete propriety in their daily dealings. But let them loose on a golf course and they make some questionable racing identities I have known look like altar boys. And what about the cheating that goes on? It seems almost de rigeur to routinely knock at least three strokes off the allotted handicap and lie with the placid aplomb and sincerity associated with a bishop. It is a surprise to me that more of them don't keel over under the self-inflicted pressure. I watched in genuine amazement one day in Kenya when one fellow - after, it must be said, a shot of definite mediocrity - leaned back and with a cry of anguish mixed with rage hurled his nine iron or five wood or whatever, high into the trees that flanked that part of the fairway. It deserved a huge guffaw of delight from someone like myself who had no stake or interest in the game. But prudence prevailed. Taking the mickey out of a golfer at that time is a rather like taking your chances with an unleashed pit bull. Both would struggle to see the humour in the situation. The equipment was eventually recovered, of course, because one doesn't normally chuck a few thousand dollars into the woods. One other chap had every reason to be particularly satisfied with an excellent round which included several birdies and relatively few mistakes. It was an inter-club tournament or some similar event and, to the best of my limited knowledge of these matters, the scorecard handed in is checked and signed by the playing partner. Whatever happened, the card was wrongly filled in - an eagle instead of a birdie perhaps - and the player was disqualified. The scenes that ensued were not overly amusing and it took a considerable time in the world-famous 19th hole to establish normal relations. Don't mess with amateur golfers, they take it all a bit too seriously. With thousands of pounds, dollars or whatever decent currency you care to name hanging on a swing or a putt it is not surprising that the paid brigade can cut up a bit rough when it comes to dealings with the media. I once had the clear temerity to suggest that a well-known player, long since retired, might choke in the final round which he went into a couple of strokes ahead. The forecast was based on his most recent form which had indicated, rather like the luckless Norman last year, that he wasn't a good thing in a tight finish. Now, not all articles you read in newspapers are the result of painstaking research and hours of careful consideration, searching for the right word, the telling phrase, the lucid summary. The one in question was dashed off to meet the requirements of a sports editor who had to get one of his pages away early. And there was certainly no intention to malign the fellow involved, it was merely a preview of the final round. The fact that my prediction actually proved correct and the final round resulted in a two-over-par return, did little to enhance my claims to golfing wisdom when I met the unfortunate player face-to-face. A snarl and a sentence with 'expletive deleted' would best describe the minimal exchanges which took place. And there was no chance of repairing the damage in the 19th. Golf is not a game for the faint-hearted.