The Hacker: Bright start but Choco fails to enjoy his day in the sun

There are few more daunting prospects for a hacker than to play with a partner you have never met before. This is particularly so in foursomes, in which you take alternate shots and the chances of putting him into deep trouble on a regular basis are embarrassingly high.

It helps if he is a hacker himself, and I was mightily relieved when the partner to whom I was introduced on the first tee at Royal Porthcawl last weekend was a 24-handicapper. That didn't mean he wasn't vulnerable to a miserable round of retrieving my rubbish, but there is a bond of understanding between hackers that can dilute the shame.

As it happened, David was very pleasant and agreeable company, but when he struck his drive straight and long down the middle on the first, I felt that our new relationship might be at risk.

Thankfully, my nine-iron soared 100 yards to the elevated green. It ran about 50 feet past the pin, but he hit a good putt just a yard short.

It was a great opportunity to start with a par but I missed it. It was a good beginning nonetheless, and we looked forward to a tidy round.

Alas, reality soon imposed itself. We each lost a ball on the next two holes and went on to lose another two or three. Porthcawl is in great nick but the rough is still merciless if you stray off-line.

The occasion was a meeting of the Cardiff & County Club Golfing Society, who are having a revival, and a healthy number of 20 turned up. Healthy may be the wrong description, though, because the first stage of the meeting is a lengthy lunch on the previous day.

If you miss it you lose two shots, and no excuses are accepted. I was at a wedding but it wouldn't have mattered if it had been my own.

David, who enjoys the nickname of Choco because of the colour he goes after a holiday in the sun, is a solicitor, as is Ceri, who was one of our playing companions and plays off 10. He and his partner Robert, a venture businessman specialising in the catering industry, won the competition with 31 points.

Choco and I managed 19 points, which kept us well clear of the booby prize – a 5p piece shared between two – and it was thoroughly enjoyable playing with other golfers for the first time. It reminds you that the game appeals to all walks of life.

Two days previously I had played at Oake Manor, near Taunton, with James, an innkeeper, Andy, a police sergeant, and Geoff, who is in stationery. James and I managed to beat Andy and Geoff, who haven't been playing long, but it was a close thing at times and a revenge match is in the offing.

What impresses me is not only do you meet a cheerier class of people at the top end of the handicap range but that there are an awful lot of us.

Hackers are the backbone of golf. Not always a flexible backbone, perhaps, but a vital part of the game in that there are more of us than any other category of player.

I base this claim partly on statistical evidence and partly on an educated guess that most of those who play the game can't – or, at least, can't do it properly.

Last weekend, James the innkeeper saved the life of a diner at his inn who choked on a piece of pork. Not only are hackers everywhere, they sometimes come in useful.

tip of the week

No 26: the downhill lie

Concluding the awkward stances, I've saved the toughest shot till last. The most common mistake I see when watching players attempt the downhill lie shot, is to underestimate how much loft they need. The stance alone will de-loft the club considerably, so first take at least two to three clubs less than normal (e.g. if you'd normally play a five-iron, take an eight-iron). Then place your weight on your lower foot and position the ball nearer your higher foot (further back in the stance).

The lie will naturally steepen the swing plane and hit the ball lower. However, make sure to swing down with the hill, don't scoop to gain loft – this will only result in fat and thinned shots. Hybrids and lofted fairway woods are the best clubs to use for long downhill shots. Lob wedges are the best to use from downhill banks around the greens.

Simon Iliffe, Head Professional, Purley Downs GC, Surrey

Suggested Topics
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits