The Hacker: At long last I get my hands on some silverware, even if I didn't win
Sunday 21 August 2011
Proud moments don't come often in a hacker's life so it was a rare treat to be presented with a handsome silver bowl on the sun-bathed terrace of Cardigan Golf Club overlooking the Teifi estuary last Wednesday.
As you might expect, the winning of the trophy was not much to do with me, but as the captain of the visitors' team in the annual match against the members I was happy to bask in the glory.
It made up for the many occasions I have been on the losing side of this historic fixture. In fact Roddy James, former captain, chairman and president of the club, who handed me the bowl which had been awarded in his father's name many years ago, said he couldn't recall it going to the visitors before.
It might have done but certainly not often in the 53 years since the Cardigan club first began to welcome golfers on holiday in the area to play, without charge, against its members on the third Wednesday in August.
The visitors' match became one of the highlights of summer due not so much to the quality of the golf – in which the visitors usually got a bloody good hiding – but to the riotous evening that followed.
This being Wales, a large amount of singing was involved and even some who weren't even golfers turned up to do their party piece. It was like a golfing eisteddfod and went on well into the early hours while the lubrication essential for lusty singing voices was administered.
Present on Wednesday was the club stalwart Donald Davies, who played in the first visitors' match in 1958 when it was eight-a-side. In no time the visitors could number over 30 but no matter how many turned up, the club produced enough members to make a match.
I first started playing in it in the early Seventies when the visitors' captain was Tom Davies, a solicitor from Newport, Gwent, whose animated rendition of the "Death of Boris" from the opera Prince Igor was an annual show-stopper.
Sadly, after Tom died the match dwindled out but last year the home captain, Edryd Lloyd, decided to revive it and asked me to be the visitors' captain.
It was a very successful day and we visitors got the usual trouncing. In a small speech that I insisted on making I outlined the history of this once remote area; of how, over the past century, they had acquired all the trappings and technologies of modern life and how amazing it was that the finer details of the handicapping system hadn't reached there yet. Thankfully this year's captain, Terry Hammett, overlooked this slur and welcomed us back.
There was an unusual twist to this year's match. Terry and I were born and bred in the Roath area of Cardiff and it transpired I play with several of his early friends, three of whom were involved with him in a two-car pile-up in Spain in 1963.
Space forbids the telling of the whole story but he hadn't seen them for over 40 years. Unfortunately, the reunion was somewhat tarnished when his old mates helped to give his team a hammering.
It helped that we had secured the services of Edryd on the groundsthat he is a country member of Glamorganshire, and he played with me against Terry and Cardigan's vice-captain, Peter Rees.
Peter and I managed to come in on one or two holes but mainly it was a titanic struggle between Terry, who plays off 11, and Edryd, off six. We were one-up coming down the last but Terry won it to justly halve our match.
However, on a lovely sunny day the Cardigan course with its staggering views saw the visitors win five of the eight matches. Terry took his team's defeat manfully and I am chastened to admit that, unlike me last year, he did not criticise our handicaps. I trust we'll be invited back.
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