Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


The Hacker: I had albatross in an egg cup for Christmas but the novelty soon wore off

On the third day of Christmas my true love did not send mea partridge in a pear tree,but I did get an albatross ona par five.

When it comes to the magic of the season I suppose my little flurry of festive fantasy doesn't amount to much, butI took it as message from on high that my living is notin vain.

At the very least, I was able to end my most dismal golfing year on a note that sends me into 2009 full of unexpected optimism.

The winter of my discontent was made glorious summer by the first three holes of a competition called the Egg Cup, which is staged on 27 December each year by Arwyn to celebrate his birthday. Arwyn is a former bank manager, and it is the onlyway he can get anyone to come to his party.

Over 50 of us gathered on a freezing morning, and it was an unlikely scenario for a sudden surge of decent golf. I'd played in the Boxing Day cross-country the previous day and that was cold enough, but a cruel east wind had joined in to make the conditions even more arctic.

I was making up a four with Lyn, Brian and Geoff. There was an individual Stableford competition for the Egg Cup but also a team event, with the best three scores counting on each hole. Since I was in company of golfers who know me well and weren't expecting much from me I didn't feel any pressure, and that seemed to relax me.

Despite the fact that I was swaddled from head to toe in protective clothing, my drive on the first was icy straight and went further than any of the others.

I then floated a nine-wood 160 yards to within 20 feet of the pin, and my putt grazed the hole. I tapped in for a net birdie that gained three points.

I was just short of the par- three second and narrowly missed a putt for anothernet birdie.

But it was on the next hole, a long par-five, that I really surprised myself. Another long drive was followed by a flying seven-wood to within 140 yards. I then soared a seven-iron 12 feet short of the flag and dropped the putt fora four.

I had two shots on that hole so it was a net two – an albatross that brought mefive points.

My net scores over the first three holes were 3, 3, 2. We were all flabbergasted. I had never played as well on those three holes and I had scored 10 points in the process – what on earth had happened to me?

Keep calm, my companions urged, and concentrate on maintaining your tempo. So I concentrated... and pulled my next drive into the woods. Then I got stuck in a bunker – normal service had been resumed.

I was probably overcomeby shock, and I managed only 15 points over the next 15 holes. But while 25 points is little to be proud of, it didn't matter. For three holes my body had been occupied bya half-decent golfer, and it isa phenomenon I must recapture.

I now have something tangible to aim at. And I promise you that an albatross at Christmas tastes a lot better than turkey.