The Hacker: Alexander the great helps me to conquer my greatest fears

There's little worse than being jilted at the last minute. It's bad enough for a bridegroom – although it could well be a future blessing for him – but nothing compensates for your golfing partner not turning up for a four-ball competition.

That's why I cut such a lonely figure at the club last Saturday morning. Usually there are one or two hovering around looking for a game but not last week; unless they saw me and were hiding.

Had I known the previous day that my friend Andy couldn't play, I would have had time to winkle out a reluctant replacement.

But he didn't tell me. We have a computerised entry system for competitions and he just deleted his name on Friday evening. His excuse was a heavy cold, although he managed to play on Sunday.

I must say he didn't look too clever when I saw him but, then again, he never does. During my admonishment of him I told him of the chance he missed to join my game plan.

Andy is also a 28-handicapper desperate to improve and he would benefit from my new unadventurous, risk-reduced approach.

Although as a singleton I couldn't be in the competition, I played in order to mark the card of the pair we regularly play with, Mike and Max.

The event was a four-ball aggregate Stableford, which meant the points total of each of the pair would be added together.

With typical generosity they offered to share their place in the competition with me and do a permutation of any two from three – the best two scores would be put forward as their entry.

I'm not sure it was legal but it didn't matter. Our best score was 64 points and it was won by the staggering score of 86 points. At least my new approach received another airing but the trauma of the morning caused me early grief when, after a good start of seven points from three holes, I scored back-to-back nines.

I drove into the woods at the fourth hole, and at the fifth I took three trying to hack my way out from the back of a leylandii tree.

Normally, this would have sent me into a rage from which the round would never have recovered but I settled down to a steady, safety-first plod that, with 20 points on the back nine, brought me a fairly respectable 32 points.

I almost had back-to-back birdies but I had to settle for one. The point was that I felt more in control and less prone to panic after a bad shot. More practice is needed but progress is being maintained.

Much of the improvement is due to a slower swing during which I repeat the name Alexander Cadogan. Mike asked whether this bloke I kept mentioning was a new member.

When I explained this to Mike, he looked oddly at me and therefore I said it under my breath. I've had a few emails assuring me I am not the only one who regulates my swing in this way.

Most of them say something like "Up 1-2, down 1-2" but Tony Chesterman of Northumberland writes to say that he prefers repeating the name Severiano Ballesteros.

Tony has been playing for six years since he retired at the age of 66 and finds my struggles a comfort to a newcomer.

But, if he and Seve don't mind, I will stick to Alexander. As Shakespeare would have surely said had he been a golfer, a slow swing by any other name is just as sweet.

Tip of the week

No 41: don't rush the downswing

It will come as no surprise that most of us want to hit the ball further. But we can do that only if we remain relaxed and free-swinging.

Too often I see guys rushing to hit "at" the ball when they will produce more power hitting through it. Try this tip to learn when to accelerate the clubhead better: hold your club by the clubhead and swing the shaft with your normal swing. You will hear the shaft swish as you swing down and through the ball.

Try to make as little noise as possible on the backswing, and save the swish until as late as possible. If you hear a loud swish well before impact you know you are going at it too quickly. Slow down and wait until nearer impact before you accelerate the clubhead.

Once you've got the feel, try and emulate the same feel in your normal golf swing.

Simon Iliffe, Head Professional, Purley Downs GC, Surrey.

people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
voicesBy the man who has
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?