The Hacker: I don't want to make a spectacle of myself but I can't see
Sunday 03 May 2009
After a lifetime of perfect vision, my eyesight has gone slightly wonky. I cannot claim it is a major contributor to my poor golf but having to ask my regular playing partners where my ball has gone has exhausted their patience.
So I've had my eyes tested and am awaiting delivery of my first set of spectacles.
When I began to have trouble picking out my ball in flight last year, the optician fitted me up with experimental glasses that had been designed specifically for the bleary-eyed golfer.
But I just couldn't get on with them and meanwhile my sight has rapidly deteriorated to the extent that I have absolutely no idea where my tee shots have gone.
It is disconcerting to hit the ball and have to wait for my friends to tell me in which direction it is headed. Their reaction varies from "good shot" to "oh shit" with a strong tendency towards the latter.
Now that I'm having glasses for everyday use, which includes doing my own ball-spotting, I can relieve them of their tedious and often embarrassing duty.
Unfortunately, the specs haven't arrived in time for this weekend's challenges, which include a medal and two knockout competitions.
So my opponents in the knockouts will have to keep a close eye on my ball for me but they will be comforted to hear that I haven't got past the first round in 10 years so the game might not last too long.
There is also a Bank Holiday medal tomorrow, when I will be continuing my long crusade to break 100. My first two attempts this year have both resulted in the humiliating score of 112 but my sense that I am on the edge of a breakthrough is still strong.
During these times of trial and hardship I am fortunate to have the company of others who are also suffering the agonies of trying to improve.
John doesn't quite come into my category. He used to play off six but 30 years ago decided to devote his time to sailing instead. He returned to golf last year but he can't recapture his glory days. He's stuck on a 20 handicap.
You can tell by his touches around the green that he used to be a good player but he can't get his swing going.
It doesn't help that we play at Royal Porthcawl. Few courses deal as harshly with wayward tee-shots and the rough is already bulking up for the summer.
But, even for a struggling player, the pluses of Porthcawl far outweigh the minuses and in Wednesday's sunshine the place looked a treat.
John had a lesson two days earlier and was very confident that he had found the secret. Sadly, the body doesn't always respond quickly to a change of style and he was hitting it all over the place.
I wasn't much better and in fact I won one hole because he'd lost two balls and I'd only lost one.
We both improved as the game progressed but his swing transition needs more work and I achieved a rare victory, two and one.
"You should have learned something very valuable today," said John as we trudged off to the bar. "Always try to play against a man who has just had a lesson."
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