The Hacker: I might be off my trolley but being a caddy is certainly my bag
Sunday 17 February 2008
Having endured ritual humiliation on the golf course for most of the autumn and all of the winter to date, it was a blessed relief to actually enjoy a round again. I can't say with any truth that my game has gone, because it was never properly there in the first place, but the way I have been hitting the ball lately, to be called a hacker would be flattering.
However, last week the perfect solution revealed itself: enjoyment without embarrassment or, in this case, responsibility, for the occasion involved representing the club in a regional first round of a national competition. Let those who can, play. And those who can't, caddy. I have found my place in the food chain.
Matchplay may not be the purest form of golf but it is certainly the most fun. All right, I'll give you that Bury St Edmunds at home to Flempton is not the Ryder Cup, and that "hole halved in nine" is not something that will be heard too often at Valhalla come September. But honour is still at stake, the badge still there to be kissed, even by us menials.
The question of caddies did come under debate beforehand. If they didn't bring any, would it be sporting for our girls to have them? What? Not give ourselves an advantage? You cannot be serious. But I did think that to sport a Rambo-style bandana round my head, like Sergio's bagman at The Belfry, might have been too much for the ladies of t'committee.
Perhaps "caddy" is too strong a word for the task I undertook, for I have no wish to demean a proud profession. Real caddies dispense advice and expertise along with the clubs and nutty nibbles; I wasn't even on the bag, I was on the electric trolley, which required no more skill than being able simultaneously to walk and steer. Mind you, though, the thing had a wicked pull to the right.
As Viv and I donned our colours and went to the fray, the third match out of five, it soon became apparent there are certain other phrases that are not common currency among those who play that stuff we see on TV. "Fine... fine... it's a worker"; "Don't worry about being over there, it opens the green up"; and (pathetically): "I wonder did anyone find a nine-iron behind the third green?"
Five down after six holes was not ideal. But hey, early days. And what's this? We won the seventh. And the eighth. And the ninth. Golly, and the 10th, with such a wonderful shot into the green: three feet from the pin and a tap-in for par. Matchplay can swing in an instant. The heady roll continued, and we nosed ahead on the 14th.
Perhaps I am getting above my station, for though I say we, it was really she. As Bobby Jones once remarked: "If I needed advice from my caddy, he'd be hitting the shots and I'd be carrying the bag."
Going down the 17th dormie, my friend said: "I suppose this is Monty and Alastair at the US Open all over again, you're going to tell me that all I've got to do is hit a seven-iron on to the green to win?" I solemnly handed her the club. And the difference was, she did.
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