The Hacker: Mike slips in the bath and my victory hopes are sunk at the last

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Our biennial visit to Wallasey golf club produced its usual results – two riotous nights and a good hiding on the course. The only slight difference was I came very close to a rare win but that was mainly due to my partner having a nasty accident in the bath.

Wallasey and The Glamorganshire have been exchanging annual visits since we discovered a mutual connection with the legendary Dr Frank Stableford, one of golf's greatest benefactors.

His points system, played by grateful golfers all over the world, was developed in the early 1930s at Wallasey.

But when writing the history of the Glamorganshire club, I found a newspaper cutting which revealed that Dr Frank first tried his system at our course when he was a member in 1898.

He then went off to serve as an army surgeon in the Boer War and the First World War before moving to Merseyside and refining the system that spread worldwide.

Wallasey are rightly the home of Stableford but we are proud of our connection and when we staged a centenary celebration of his 1898 experiment, Wallasey sent two teams to take part.

They didn't leave our club till dawn by which time we had agreed to honour the good doctor with an annual get-together at which his memory is rigorously toasted.

Dr Frank drove a yellow Rolls Royce and always wore a bow-tie. It is the bow-tie trophy, cast in bronze, that we play for.

On the morning of the match, Mike, with whom I was sharing a room and was to play with, slipped in the bath while showering and landed on his back with a shuddering crash. It was alleged that he was boozed but he certainly wasn't.

Someone else said he'd been eating in the shower and slipped on a sandwich but it was down purely to the treachery of the bath surface and, him being 17 stone, it wasn't easy getting him out.

Thankfully, there was no lasting damage but he was in such discomfort there was no way he could play.

Wallasey immediately set about finding a volunteer willing to play for us, and more importantly, with me. Brian, who was having a kick-about with his son on a local park, bravely answered the SOS.

We were playing Eddie and Tony and when Brian birdied the first to put us one up, things looked promising. Brian plays off 11 as does Eddie while Tony, who is their greens chairman, is off 18 and we had a great game.

I managed to halve a few holes but Brian, who warmed to being a temporary Welshman, led the battle and ensured that the banter was as enjoyable as the contest.

We were all square coming to the 18th which is one of my favourite golf holes, not least because you can see the bar from the tee. When Brian and I both found the fairway with our drives – and our opponents hit the rough – a famous victory loomed.

But we both cocked up our second shots and eventually Tony sank an eight-footer to win the hole and the game.

Wallasey won the match by five and a half to a half. They put the trophy in their cabinet and we had a good drink and went for a curry.

p.corrigan@independent.co.uk

Tip of the week

No 16: the long bunker shot

Often regarded as the toughest shot in golf, the bunker shot from 30 to 60 yards can be tamed if played in the right way. To make the shot easier, take your most lofted club (a lob-wedge is ideal) so you can be more positive.

Take your normal full-swing set-up and position the ball just forward of centre. Make a full swing aiming to hit the bottom of the ball. The sole of the club will just strike the sand first, and take enough power off the shot to hit a 60-yard shot.

To change the yardage, control the length of the backswing, and keep positive through the ball – make sure you do not ease up on the shot. Make sure to swing right through to achieve good loft and ball-stopping control.

Simon Iliffe, Head Professional, Purley Downs GC, Surrey www.theshortgame.co.uk

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