The Hacker: As tee shot goes two yards, I feel like being six feet under
Sunday 22 August 2010
Humiliation is never far away from a hacker and I had my latest ration on a crowded first tee in west Wales on Wednesday.
As the newly appointed captain of the visitors team against members of Cardigan Golf Club, I had the honour of teeing-off first.
Since I have been driving well of late, I wasn't remotely nervous at having my swing witnessed by an audience. Perhaps that was the trouble. A few butterflies might have concentrated the mind.
It would have been better had I missed the ball altogether. I would have been able to launch immediately into another attempt.
As it was, I flicked the top of the ball and sent it dribbling six feet forward. Others said later that it wasn't as long as that. No matter. It lay there mockingly while all around could be heard the unmistakable sound of suppressed hysterics.
I usually have a merry quip to take the sting out of such occasions but I was struck dumb. If only I'd recalled one man's response to a similar incident. He turned round to the onlookers and said: "Blimey, this is a hard course."
Because I had moved the ball forward it had to be left there while the other three drove off. Then it was my turn again and the delay had done plenty to increase the curiosity of what calamity they were going to see next.
Wisely, I decided not to go for the dramatic recovery and selected my trusty seven-iron to smack a face-saving shot 150 yards down the middle.
Needless to say we lost the game despite the earnest efforts of my partner Jeff Osborne from Glamorganshire. I did manage to come in on a few holes but we had no answer to Cardigan's captain Edryd Lloyd and his vice-captain Terry Hammett.
Edryd, who plays off six, was moaning about his golf beforehand. He was playing so badly, he said, he was thinking of giving it up.
They beat us four and three and of the 16 holes we played he got 14 pars, one birdie and a bogey.
I related this when I said a few words in the evening and asked what he was thinking of giving up next – playing golf or telling lies.
But to Edryd's credit it all went off splendidly and has put the event back in the calendar. For over 50 years, the Cardigan club staged a match in August between members and any holiday-makers wanting to play.
Not many seaside clubs offer free golf to visitors and there was never any shortage of takers especially as the game was followed by a riotous evening which was attended by locals as well as the golfers.
I attended for many years and the visitors' captain was Tom Davies, a solicitor from Newport, Gwent, whose party piece was a recital of the "Death of Boris" from Prince Igor. This involved not only tuneless Russian bellowing but violently acrobatic death throes which endangered Tom and the audience.
After he died the event petered out but Edryd and the club have now revived it and there was a good turnout to listen to lovely singing from the Fortza quartet.
Cardigan won the match five and a half to four and a half and I explained to the visitors' team that, because of their remote position on the west Wales coast, news of the handicapping system hadn't reached there yet.
Tip of the week
No 63: hookers' hell
If you're a natural drawer of the ball, you will have excellent hand-eye co-ordination. Your swing path will be from in to out and you will release the club properly through impact. However, from time to time you will be susceptible to either over-hook left or block the ball right. There are a couple of things to watch out for.
Make sure your ball position isn't too far back in the stance. This will encourage an overly in-to-out swing and start the ball further right than intended. Also make sure you are standing good and tall at address. If you stoop over, the club will be difficult to release at impact as you will be forced up to gain height and your weight will be pushed back on to your heels. Follow these simple tips and you should find your reliable draw will return in no time.
Simon Iliffe, Head Professional, Bramley GC, Surrey.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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