The Hacker: As if playing this game isn't enough of a lottery already

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The Independent Online

The bubble has burst. Our glorious run in the foursomes knockout ended on the 18th green in the twilight of Thursday evening and led to an unseemly dispute on the club veranda.

The dispute was not with our opponents, I hasten to add. Graham and Steve were worthy winners of an enjoyable game, and considering we were three down with four to play we did well to take it to the last.

Then, as we were shaking hands, came a loud burst of applause from the crowded clubhouse. We turned to acknowledge it but it wasn't for us – the winner of the monthly prize draw had just been announced.

To our amazement, it was Richard Jeremy who won the £650. Richard had been playing in front of us, and thereby hangs a tale.

In order to promote togetherness, conviviality and bar takings, we have been holding a monthly club night over the past couple of years, and to boost attendance a cash prize is awarded to a member whose name has been drawn at random bythe computer.

The strict stipulation is that you have to be in the lounge at the precise moment the draw is announced. If you are on the course, in the spikes bar or even in the toilet you cannot claim the prize. When the prize isn't claimed, £50 is added to it and, consequently, it often rolls up to a large sum.

The higher it goes, the more members are attracted, and with a curry and a quiz also on offer the place is jam-packed with men,women and juniors.

It irks me that consideration isn't given to those out on the course playing in official club competitions, and at this time of the year you have to play your knockout matches when you can.

Never one to miss a chance to ferment a small rebellion, I suggested to the other three in our match that if one of us happened to be drawn as the winner we should challenge the committee on their decision to exclude us.

It so happened that Richard, who was playing Peter in a singlesknockout, had started behind us, but we called them through on the eighth. Actually, they sneaked through while we were looking for a ball in the trees, but that's another story.

We saw them finish while we waited on the tee of the par-three 18th. Richard had won so he went to the spikes bar to buy the drinks and Graham, the steward, told him he should be in the lounge, where they were about to do the draw.

Richard rushed in and less than 10 seconds after he entered the room his name was called. By the time we got to the veranda he was there looking very pleased with himself and surrounded by well-wishers marvelling at his good fortune and hoping to get a drink out of him.

I reminded Richard that if we hadn't called him through he would have still been on the course and therefore ineligible to pick up the prize. I figured that £50 each would be a fair recognition of our contribution and it would still leave him with £450.

I'm not sure how to interpret his reaction, but I think he was indicating that he needed two hours to think about it and I am sure he will cough up when he thinks it through.

Meanwhile, the episode at least reinforced my view about the absurdity of a golf club discriminating against members who are actually in the process of playing golf.

I put my argument to Ivan, our immediate past captain, who conducted the evening. What are we, I demanded, a golf club or a lottery club? The question was still being argued about until late that night.

As for our defeat, we were two up after four but thereafter bunkers were our downfall. But that's the trouble with high-handicappers, they have a habit of playing like it.