The Hacker: Killian proves it is a mug's game while the yolk's on me at Egg Cup

Such was the ruthless weather, it was a lucky golfer in these islands who managed to get in a game over Christmas.

So I count myself fortunate that I played on Boxing Day and, but for a stomach bug, I would have played on the following day, too.

This turned out to be a blessing, for there's no doubt there was a humiliating fate awaiting me had I been able to play in the Egg Cup.

Although we dodged most of the nasty stuff on the south Wales coast, our course was frozen solid in the days leading up to Christmas Day. But it thawed enough to allow us to play our Boxing Day cross-country event.

Had this been a normal competition they wouldn't have opened the course as several greens were like ice-rinks but, as the name suggests, the cross-country is in no way normal.

The nine holes, some of them 800 or 900 yards long, go from the first to the fourth, the fourth to the fifth, the sixth to the seventh and so on.

Mostly, they traverse the fairways so that trees, hedges and ditches are in front of you instead of down the sides.

The format is greensome foursomes, in which both of you drive, you select the better one and then play alternately.

It benefits the big hitters but the man playing the second shot usually faces the bigger problems. It helps, therefore, if the better player takes the second shot.

However, that requires the other player to hit a good enough drive. I did win this event five years ago but then I was playing with a two-handicapper and was driving well enough for him to take a few second shots.

This time, unfortunately, my tee-shots were neither long nor straight enough and I was taking my partner Bob's drive with erratic results.

But it didn't matter, as it turned out. Usually we are finished before noon but this year there were over 100 of us and play was much slower.

Bob's wife was cooking lunch for 13 and he had to pick up some elderly relatives so, with two holes to play, he had to go.

I didn't get the feeling his departure was a tragedy for him. But I enjoyed the outing and we had a curry waiting back at the clubhouse.

It wasn't the curry, but I was stricken with a stomach upset that kept me off food and drink for 24 hours and which meant I had to withdraw from the Egg Cup. This is a competition organised annually by Arwyn to celebrate his birthday. As an ex-bank manager it's the only way he can get people to help him celebrate.

I regret having to pull out but he had 48 taking part and he won it himself with 41 points. But the best part, for him, was that his son-in-law, Killian, won the booby prize with 24 points.

Killian, who plays off 19 at the Donabate Golf Club near Dublin, came over with the intention of winning the trophy. Instead, he received a gift which Arwyn had received as a present and was happy to unload. It was a naff mug filled with chocolate golf balls. At the presentation Arwyn scoffed: "This is a mug for a mug who thought he was chocolate."

Had I played, I was likely to have scored fewer points than Killian and if he said that about his son-in-law, what would he have said about me?

Tip of the week

No 33: positive thinking

Why is it that you know some shots will be good before you hit the ball, others you never feel comfortable over and rarely hit well? Think of the best shot you ever hit. Now the next best. Bet you can't think of the third best. Why? So much of our emotion is used negatively on the course. We remember our bad shots because we react so emotionally to them.

When was the last time you fist-pumped off a green because you were so happy you holed a putt? Or gave yourself a pat on the back for hitting a good approach? These are the shots we expect to execute well, so we never celebrate. Instead our energy goes into cursing bad shots.

Try to remember every good shot, and don't be afraid to feel passionate about hitting them. We need to remember and visualise these achievements to re-enact them and perform well under pressure.

Simon Iliffe, Head Professional, Purley Downs GC, Surrey

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