The Hacker: My dentist and I hole monsters to put smiles back on our faces

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It may not have the beauty of the blooming of an early daffodil or the first peep at a primrose, but there's a joy to be had from the springtime flowering of hope in a hacker's heart that this could be his year.

A faltering golfer's capacity for delusion is never stronger than at this time of the year, but there were some grounds for optimism last week.

For a start, I managed to get my dentist out of hibernation and back on the golf course. It wasn't as difficult as it usually is because we have had the sunniest February since records began, and fair-weather golfers have been returning to the courses in their droves.

Sniffing the air suspiciously at first, like early-awakened tortoises, they have enjoyed some lovely spring-like days, and it's been a pleasure to see their little faces light up. I fear they may have come back too soon, though. The forecasts predict a wet and windy March and it may not yet be time to jettison the thermals. But it's too late now. Once they've seen the ball hurtling through a blue sky, they are hooked.

It's not easy to return to the game after a long lay-off. We winter golfers who carry on playing through the dark and dismal months manage at least to keep in the swing of things.

My dentist's first outing since the autumn was not initially conspicuously successful, but he was glad to be outside, especially as Royal Porthcawl was looking good.

I'll probably suffer next time I'm in the chair, but I have to reveal that he had a couple of air shots. It is by no means difficult to miss the ball by a fraction when your muscle memory is trying to rediscover the nuances of your swing, but neither is it encouraging.

By the time we reached the third green he was not a happy soul, but suddenly he sank a putt that was every inch of 45-feet long. The transformation was amazing. His face blossomed into a wide grinand his game perked up considerably.

A similar experience then befell me. I hadn't been playing badly but I'm still trying to settle on a new driver, and I'd be happier with the square-headed Nike I've borrowed if it didn't make such a horrible noise. But it went like an arrow on the ninth, which is stroke index one, where I sank a 40-footer for a par.

We don't demand much from the game, and those two big putts were enough to take us to the bar in jaunty spirits.

The following day I was encouraged enough to join the Chips, a group of swindlers who gather at Glamorganshire every Wednesday. They put a pound each in the kitty and the one with the best Stableford card takes the money but has to buy the chips. There were 15 of us last week and the winner had to go before collecting the money, so we had double portions.

I lost £1.90 in side bets but I was fairly happy with my play, apart from, ironically, my chipping, which was rubbish. My 27 points was by no means the lowest score, and was just about enough to keep the dream going for a while.

If you are going tohave optimism, make it low-maintenance.

p.corrigan@independent.co.uk

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