The Hacker: Battle of the scribes is nothing to write home about for us

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The Independent Online

Lough Erne, in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, is the latest addition to our impressive stock of luxury golf resorts and celebrated its recent opening with a challenge match between Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy which young Rory won two up.

Last week it staged a contest of embarrassingly inferior quality with the golf writers' home internationals.

This annual battle between six-man teams from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales has been going for 18 years and is invariably far more hot-tempered and controversial than anything we write about.

Wales, I regret to report, won the wooden spoon by a narrow margin from England and as usual we were robbed.

As Wales' captain, I take full responsibility but, this time, I intend to share the blame with Nick Faldo who designed what is a magnificent course.

Everything about the Lough Erne complex is brand new and grand with it but the course is exceptional for a layout so new.

You have to contend with the Faldo obsession with large, scalloped bunkers (I believe he got his knighthood for services to sand) but he has created some great holes amid the superb lakeside scenery.

Because of shortage of time the first round of matches was curtailed to nine holes. Wales were drawn against England and I chose to partner Tim Glover on the grounds that no one else would want to be paired with us.

We were playing Bill Elliott and Tony Stenson who would have fancied their chances until we blazed into a shock lead and were dormy two up with two shot holes to come.

We cocked up the eighth when I lost a ball but we were in a very strong position on the ninth which has a blind drive to the brow of a hill from the top of which the fairway plunges down towards a green on the left guarded by a wall and a swampy area.

Bill hit a great shot to just beyond the green. I managed to evade the trouble in front of the green but was way right and a chip and a putt won them the hole and halved the match. Even as we were shaking hands, we heard the group behind us yelling and pointing up the hill to our left.

"You've played the wrong green. The ninth is up there,' they laughed.

We'd taken the wrong dog-leg. It was an easy mistake to make and I contended that the hole should be declared null and void and because we were one up on the eighth we were the rightful winners.

My appeal was mockingly dismissed. Since we had won one of the other games we would have defeated England instead of just halving. It was that which doomed us to the wooden spoon instead of England. We accepted our fate in the typically uncomplaining Welsh way but respectfully submit they plant trees or erect a fence to prevent further confusion.

We had an excellent time and the biggest laugh came when James Mossop mislaid his £400 mobile phone. Eight of us were dialling his number and treading softly through lakeside reeds with our ears peeled. "By the way," some-one said. "What ring-tone are we listening for?" "The sound of a duck quacking," said Jim.