The Hacker: I hope Santa will get me into the swing of things on the big day

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The Independent Online

Christmas morning is the one time of the year you would expect the nation's golf courses to be deserted and so they would be if it wasn't for thousands of hackers trying out their Christmas presents.

Give them a new golf club and, no matter how old they are, they will whoop with delight and want to try swinging it immediately. For the sake of the chandeliers, they will be sent to the course, where they will hack awaywith their new toy.

If they have any sense, they will tape the face of the club so that they can take it back unmarked to the pro shop and swap it for another one.

There are very few advantages to being connected to a golfer, but one is that they are so easy to buy for. The game abounds with suitable gift opportunities: clothes, shoes, gloves, hats, bags, trolleys and no end of knick-knacks, ranging from hand-warmersto telescopic scoops for retrieving balls from water.

No matter how bad a player they are, a pack of a dozen shining new balls is always a treat, even if they will all be lost within a fortnight.

The most welcome present is something that contains the prospect of game improvement. Instructional books or DVDs are guaranteed to be studied avidly, but nothing stirs a hacker's heart more than receiving a gleaming new club.

Yet I fear there may bedisappointment on Tuesday morning, because there are now more new clubs on the market than there have ever been. The variety of shapes and sizes, lofts and shafts on offer are so confusing that unless some prior consultation has taken place, the chances of a wrong choice are high.

Even I am not yet certain if my hints have been broad enough to net me the club that I want. There are two clubs on my wish list, but I realise that one of them requires more research from me.

I wrote recently about the dilemma facing countless thousands of golfers whose drivers will become illegal at the stroke of midnight in nine days' time.

All drivers with a face thin enough to cause the so-called trampoline effect are banned as from the first minute of 2008. I won't go into thetechnicalities, but it will be an infringement of the rules of golf to use such a club. I think it is a bloody liberty, because they cost a lot of money and most of us using them struggle to get over 200 yards even with their help.

So we are faced with more expense and a long search for a driver that suits our strange swings. Meanwhile, I have a strong desire for an 11 wood. In the past year, I have acquired a seven and a nine wood and they have both served me well from the fairway and, more often, from the rough.

So much so that I have jettisoned from my bag the four, five and six irons. I am assured that the 11 wood will take the place of the sevenand eight irons.

However, I learn that the 11 wood has been superseded by one of the 27-degree hybrid clubs. I have repeated this regularly recently, but I won't know until Christmas morning if Santa has been listening.