The Hacker: I may lack flair but at least the lifeboats don't come round any more - Golf - Sport - The Independent

The Hacker: I may lack flair but at least the lifeboats don't come round any more

The one priority attribute hackers need to possess is the ability to laugh at ourselves. Or rather, the ability to join in quickly when everyone else is laughing at us.

If you don't have the skill to play golf well, you must be able to give the impression that no matter how many errant shots you commit, you are enjoying yourself – when inside you are being devoured by embarrassment.

That's why winter golf is such a boon for hackers. Not only does bad weather mask a multitude of sins but it takes much of the seriousness out of the game.

Indeed, if it is run properly, a winter league can be an uproarious competition in which mistakes are laughed away.

Ours has been going strong for well over 50 years and for 20 Sunday mornings during the worst of winter it provides harmless fun for 144 of our hardiest members.

Our league is called the Snakes and Ladders because of the complicated way we ensure that if you win one week you play a winner the following week, and the same with the losers.

The man in charge is called the Chief Snake and it is his job to rule on all disputes and conduct a naming and shaming inquest in the bar afterwards when the worst golfing atrocities of the morning are announced.

It was a post that I had pleasure in filling for six years in the 1980s and I was reminded of that time by an email last week from Andrew Greville-Smith, who these days plays at Royston in Herts.

It has been 25 years since he played in the Snakes but he still regales his golfing mates with stories of our antics. "Remember when the lifeboats got launched?" he asks.

As if I could forget. With so many playing in the event, getting them around and back in time for lunch was so difficult that I decided to have a shotgun start.

Our format is foursomes so two games were assigned to each hole and play began at the stroke of 9am. We didn't have a shotgun so I hit on the idea of firing a flare to signal the start.

It wasn't a wise move considering our close proximity to the Bristol Channel, and waiting for me at the clubhouse one Sunday was a policeman accompanied by the coxswains of Penarth and Barry lifeboats, who had spent the morning looking for a boat in distress.

Happily, they joined us for a drink and I was eventually let off with a bollocking. We've used a hooter ever since that day.

Our current Chief Snake – and there has been a long line of excellent ones – is Peter "Jammy" James, a retired dentist who these days tries to give people as much pleasure as he can.

In addition to the sparkle of his repartee he brings his guitar, and we must be the only winter league with our own song.

It was the presentation supper after the pre-Christmas session last weekend and the first prize was won by Phil Parker and Phil Mardon, whose form has cost them the scant punishment of being dropped only one shot each.

The wooden spoon went to Steve Sidford and Tony Stevens, who lost every match but saved their finest effort for the final game when they went one up. It didn't last but it was the only time they had been ahead in 10 weeks.

Jammy handed out some special awards. One went to someone who had a double hit on a three-inch putt, while two players had air-shots playing the wrong ball.

However, the prize for the best excuse went to Andrew, the professional, who sportingly runs the risk of ridicule by partnering a high handicapper every year.

Andrew had marked his ball with three dots and when he swerved a shot into the trees he said: "Damn, that's my fault for not marking the ball on both sides."

p.corrigan@independent.co.uk

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
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border