The Hacker: I'm not getting paranoid but I thought I had this one in the bag
Sunday 18 September 2011
When golf delivers a series of low blows to your spirit it is hard to muster your morale for the next bout with the game. So, being able to flee to France last Sunday was a blessed relief.
Teeing it up in a different country can work wonders, especially if your demons haven't followed you. Mine were probably too exhausted after all the damage they had done to me on the Saturday, when I suffered my worst medal round since October 2008.
This disaster came only three days after I had played in thesemi-final of the Veterans Cup and performed quite well from tee to green. But I was comprehensively out-putted by John Letton, a 16-handicapper who beat me 3&2.
Just to prove how in form he was, John went on to win the September medal with a gross 80, nett 64. In the same event I scored 118 – which was not only the highest of the day but 38 shots more than he had.
I wish I could explain what happens to me in medals but it doesn't help when you give shots away,
There's a long walk back to the third tee and my drive flew unerringly the 100 yards to hitmy golf bag dead centre.
That's a one-shot penalty, although my playing companions claimed it was two shots, which is why my card showed 119. Since I had already dropped five shots on the first two holes it didn't really matter, and complete demoralisation was not far behind.
It was a merciful escape to drive to Le Touquet the following morning to join my companions in the Dregs golf society and take some consoling refreshment in the classy confines of the Westminster Hotel.
The Dregs consists of veteran golf journalists and we are organised by Michael McDonnell, formerly golf correspondent of the Daily Mail. We play annually, usually in France, and it is always a delight to exchange reminiscences which get more lurid each year.
I shared a buggy with Mike when we played the sea course on Monday and we hoped to dodge the storm which was sweeping Britain. But it soon caught up with us and we took a right buffeting and soaking.
I wasn't doing too badly until the fourth hole. I hit a decent drive into the semi-rough but Mike scuffed his, then hit his second shot towards where my ball was.
He pulled up alongside a ball saying: "You've not got a good lie." Like a fool I didn't look closely at the ball but I did hit it well, about 30 yards short of the green.
Then we looked for his and found mine. I'd hit his ball, which was a two-shot penalty. I take full responsibility but it was still his fault.
Frustration took its usual toll and I didn't score on the next six holes. The storm had abated by then and I did better on the back nine but nowhere near enough.
The next day we played the forest course and I started playing much better. I had 27 points after 15 holes but I had noticed there was something funny about my five-iron. I examined it and although it was very similar,it wasn't mine. I had two five-ironsin the bag and that meant 15 clubs, which is one over the maximum,and that carries a four-stroke penalty.
It was Mike's club and he had put it in my bag by mistake the previous day; an easy mistake to make when you are sharing a buggy.
I scored only one point on the last three holes and that gave me 28, which was the second best score of the day, and over the two days I finished fourth.
I'm not saying I would have won the Dregs trophy – Tony Stenson of the Sunday Star did that fair and square – and I was pleased to finish so high. But the feeling persists that there's a conspiracy against me.
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