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.

p.corrigan@independent.co.uk

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 www.theshortgame.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballLive: Latest news from Champions League draw
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?