The Hacker: Glory of Wales drowned out by wails of mobile misery
Sunday 16 March 2008
There will not be a great deal of sympathy available for anyone daft enough to play golf in last week's storms, but that won't prevent me from holding out the begging bowl for a few condolences. It was our annual pilgrimage to St Andrews, and you don't go all the way up there not to play rounds you've paid for in advance.
As it happens, that part of Scotland was not hit as hard as places down south but it was windy enough, especially on our first day, when we played the Jubilee course in lashing rain.
It wasn't too bad when the wind was behind us for the first seven holes, and I was quite happy with my 14 points as we turned slightly back into the gale for the eighth, which is a tricky little dogleg on the calmest of days.
Then, from the depths of my bag, came the sound of my mobile phone ringing. Mobiles are quite rightly forbidden on golf courses, but I carry one for emergencies and thought I'd turned it off.
Curiosity made me answer it, and the young lady at the other end asked if I could go somewhere quieter because she couldn't hear me properly. I shouted that I was in the middle of a storm-tossed golf course and I would ring her later.
But she said she was speaking from the news desk of 'The Independent' and needed to speak to me urgently about writing a 1,600-word feature on the joys of being a Welshman, due to all the sporting success we are having at the moment.
I asked when they wanted it and she said: "Today."
Explaining that I wasn't experiencing joy of any sort at this particular moment and that by the time I'd dried out and warmed up it would be too late to meet the deadline, I declined their kind invitation.
There then followed two unfortunate happenings. First, I pulled my drive into the thick rough bordering the Eden estuary and suffered my first blob of the round. Secondly, in trying to put my mobile back into my bag, I must have dropped it.
The ninth and 10th were straight into the gale and you could hardly swing a club. Two of our party abandoned the game and fled to the clubhouse but the rest of us plodded manfully on. I didn't score for five holes but then urged my soaked frame in a despairing effort that brought me a final total of 21 points, which was the fifth best of our group of 12.
Meanwhile, my mobile had been found by a kindly golfer playing several holes behind us. He put it in his bag, whereupon it started ringing again.
Young ladies on news desks are nothing if not persistent and she was back to have another go. I don't know if the phone-finder fancied writing about the joys of being a Welshman, but it would probably have been easier than trying to explain that he wasn't the person she thought he was.
My limbs were still aching when I faced the Old Course the following morning. The sun was shining brightly but the wind, which had switched to the North-west, was unmerciful to someone who has swing problems at the best of times. My humiliating collapse is a story for another day.
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