The Hacker: Birdies join golf dating agency – but they're not all bonkers

Mature hacker, well-built, presentable, own teeth, would like to meet female hacker of similar description for on-course companionship. Must have sound eyesight, good sense of humour and plenty of balls. Please send photo (of handicap certificate).

If an ad similar to the above has not yet appeared on a lonely hearts page, it soon might because golf has acquired its first dating agency. don't see themselves as a dating agency. Formed only a year ago, they see their role as bringing together single people with a shared interest in playing golf.

"We are not one of those bonking websites," says co-founder Janet Rampton, who met her own partner, and co-founder, Martin Rayment, at a golf event. "We've created a forum whereby golfers can look for new partners and straight away have something in common – a love of golf." Mind you, meeting for the first time on a golf course is not quite like getting to know each other over a candlelit dinner.

It's a harsh world out there in the rough. It is difficult to make a good impression in a flurry of fluffed shots and muffled curses, and the men can be even worse. Controlling the cursing is hard enough but you forget the other stuff you come out with. I once played with two lady travel writers and cocked up a shot before screaming at myself: "Peter, you're playing like an old tart." One of my companions said: "We're old tarts and we're playing better than you."

Certainly, no one familiar with golf would regard it as fertile ground for romance. Relationships between men's and women's sections in clubs are often distant, fractious even, and I'm afraid that male chauvinism is inclined to prowl the fairways even in these enlightened times. Many hackers, gnarled veterans of the war between the sexes, see their golf course as their last sanctuary from the perils of the petticoat.

I do not count myself in that number. If I rarely play with a lady it is because most of them would rather cut their throats than be seen out with me. But I count many lady golfers as good friends, not least Sue Montgomery, who takes over this column occasionally.

We had a terrific game in Spain two years ago and plan another at Celtic Manor soon. Not that we see eye to eye on some golfing matters such as me belonging to two clubs at which women don't have the vote, but that doesn't sour our relationship.

I once had a partner who took up the game and she did so well I was emboldened to put our names down for the Eros Cup. A member of the ladies section informed me it was a competition for married couples. I apologised for my ignorance and then added that I thought Eros was the god of love and that a lot of married couples at the club couldn't stand the sight of each other.

But the thought of finding a golfing partner from outside your club does appeal. In a short time, TEEforeTWO has acquired more than 2,000 paying members with men outnumbering the women three to two.

One married man has been thrown out for having dubious motives but there is at least one romance blossoming and they organise well-attended singles events at venues across the UK every fortnight.

This is a brand new golfing trend and hackers will have to reflect that somewhere out there could be a lady hacker waiting to share the torment.

Tip of the week

No 22: putting on winter greens

Did you know that putters have varying degrees of loft? The manufacturer's norm is about four degrees, but some companies set their lofts as little as zero degrees and some as much as six degrees. This has a huge impact on ball-roll. When a ball is at rest on the putting green, it will sit down in the grass under its own weight. The longer the grass is (slow greens) the more the ball nestles down, and will need loft to lift it on to the grass before it can start rolling. On fast greens less loft is needed as the ball will sit much closer to the top of the grass. It is important you know how much loft is on your putter, as during the winter months you'll need at least four degrees to putt on the slower surfaces. Have your professional or club-fitter check your loft, and have it changed for the winter.

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