The Hacker: A card-wrecking 14 means I lose my bottle but the Scotch tastes sweet for Candy man
Sunday 24 October 2010
The big scorers were out in force last weekend, merrily hacking their way around the course and racking up soaring totals on their medal cards.
It was our club's Centurions tournament which we believe is the only event of its kind in the UK, recognising as it does the struggles of the less gifted golfers.
To qualify, players need to have failed to break 100 at least once in a monthly medal during the year. The idea for the tournament was the brainchild of Mike Hennessy, who, after hearing me being mocked for my famed failure to break 100 in recent years, studied the results and revealed that scores of 100 or more were not exactly rare.
Indeed, every year, about 150 were over the century mark at least once which is a surprisingly high percentage of those who play regularly in the medals.
Every year, we stage our version of the Ryder Cup between Wales and the Rest of the World and the teams are drawn from those who perform best in the medals. Those who perform worst, i.e. the Centurions, play on the same day and are largely ignored.
It is a very popular competition among the hackers and probably represents our best chance of winning anything but not everyone likes it – particularly the reluctant ton-up boys.
At first, the names of those who had qualified were put on the noticeboard but were taken down after protests from some who did not want their shame made public.
Last weekend, out of more than 140 who qualified, only 63 turned out. Of the 80 or so absentees, some would have had good excuses but the majority of them were either in denial or considered it beneath them to play in the company of losers.
There has been a sharp increase, too, in the number of non-returns in the medals – players who don't return a completed score. There can be good reasons for this but if you are not playing well and the 100 is looming, a "non return" can save face.
They all missed a brilliant day – I'm talking about the weather not the golf. Conditions were perfect, sunny, clear and crisp, with the course in great nick and the greens slick and true.
And, true to their name, most of the Centurions returned with scores in excess of 100. Mine was well in excess. Despite a stirring start in which two straight long shots took me to a par on the first, I fell foul of the hacker's curse on the fourth on which I hit three trees, took five to get from underneath the lip of a greenside bunker and finished with a card-wrecking 14.
Utterly demoralised, I came back with a score of 119 and my consolation was that I was the likely winner of the bottle of Scotch for the highest score.
I was even trounced in that battle by Mac Candy who came home with 132 and a tale of woe that would take a long time to relate. He had bunker trouble, too, and also had to take nine penalty shots including one called by his playing partner for holding the flag while holing out from two inches.
My one pleasure was that a player could win only one prize and although he won the prize of six golf balls for the highest score on the par fives with 36, it went to the second highest – 35 by me. He was also prevented from taking the prize for the highest score on the par threes on which he scored more than he had on the par fives
I was criticised by one of my friends for making 100 such a big issue. "I never used to worry about it but you've made me so conscious of it. It puts me off," he said.
I reassured him that no one suffers more than me. The more I write about it the more pressure I bring upon myself. Will I ever get the monkey off my back?
Tip of the week
No 72: Dressing up for winter
With cold weather now setting in, it is important to take advantage of the modern "base-layer" garments.
By wearing clothing tight to your body, air is trapped between the skin and the garment. The tighter you can wear the garment. the more the air is warmed to create a barrier from the cold.
This way you can build up multiple thin layers and feel much freer on a cold day, rather than wearing big bulky garments.
For extra warmth, remember to wear a woolly hat or a fleece hat to stop heat escaping from your head and an extra pair of waterproof trousers or leggings to keep your legs warm.
You don't need to feel bulky and restricted any more for winter golf. If you do, you could be losing unnecessary yards at this important time of year.
Simon Iliffe is head professional at Bramley Golf Club, Surrey. www.theshortgame.co.uk
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