The Hacker: A case of mistaken identity but even then I can't make breakthrough

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The Independent Online

Since this is my final Hacker column on these premises I had hoped to sign off with a flourish. But, true to my form over the past 14 years, I failed by an embarrassing margin.

My partner Bob and I lost by a dog's licence (that's seven and six, or it was when the expression was first coined) to Dominic and Coburn, who sound more like a firm of solicitors than a pair of winter league predators.

But we had the strangest of starts which, I claim, led to the first of several hopeless shots from me that greatly assisted our downfall.

Our winter league format is foursomes – in which a pair take alternate shots – played on Sunday mornings, and because we have over 100 taking part we have a shotgun start, which means that games are allocated to different holes around the course.

It means a long walk for some to the farthest tees but at 9am sharp a hooter goes and we all start playing. In this way we can all finish our games in time to get back for a pint or two before lunch.

Luckily our game was off the 18th, which is a 190-yard par three leading up to the clubhouse. Bob was driving the evens, so all I had to do was walk a few yards and wait by the green to play the second shot.

His tee shot wasn't bad and ended in the light rough about 20 yards short of the green. It was then the opposition's turn to drive. The player gave it a hell of a whack and immediately pointed to the left and yelled: "Fore!"

The ball soared over the safety fence we put up to protect the clubhouse and clattered into a row of parked cars. Thankfully, it was the car park reserved for club officials and, obviously, was out of bounds.

I then waited for his partner to play three off the tee but the man who had hit the car park was walking up alone. "I don't know where my partner is," he said, introducing himself as Coburn.

It transpired he was substituting for Darrell and had briefly met Dominic for the first time that morning. Dominic went off to practise and said he'd see him on the tee.

What he didn't say was which tee. For some reason, Dominic thought we were starting on the 17th, and when he got there he saw what he thought was Coburn on the tee so he walked down the fairway and was delighted when his partner's mighty drive landed five feet from the pin.

He took out his putter and was marching resolutely to the green when he was hailed by two other golfers, who enquired politely where the hell he thought he was going. "You're not in our match," they said.

By the time he found us we'd called the next game through, and eventually Dominic hit his tee shot all of 80 yards. Coburn walked back and stuck it 12 feet from the pin for four.

I had a simple chip to reach the green for two and I fluffed it. We eventually halved the hole in six – and that was one of our better holes.We never won a hole, and regular readers will not be surprised. I'm only sorry I never reached the breakthrough I've been promising all these years. But I know I've brought joy to really bad players, many of whom have written to say they were going to give the game up in despair until they realised there was someone even worse than them.

If only for their sakes I will continue to write the column every Monday at, starting tomorrow. After 60 years writing for newspapers it is a difficult habit to break. I hope you pay a visit. At least it's free.