We have two main swindles at our club, the Chips and the Crisps. For the uninitiated, swindles are what golfers call the unofficial competitions that take place during the week at every club.
They are not really swindles but, then again, it does seem that the same blokes seem to win; although that's probably an embittered view common to all regular losers.
Swindles take various forms from club to club but, basically, you just turn up at an appointed time, put a quid or two in the kitty, all the balls are thrown up and you play with whoever's ball lands closest to yours. In the Chips, the money goes to the top individual scorer, who is then required to buy chips for all out of his winnings.
There's also a private four-ball better-ball match with the pair you've been drawn with, for whatever stakes you agree on – plus 20p for birdies.
I was once lucky enough to be paired with the winner. I played terribly, didn't come in once but collected a few quid and a free plate of chips. Never since have I been drawn with him and I can't work out how, when the balls are thrown up, mine always lands furthest away from his.
The Crisps is a different proposition altogether. despite the same playing format. The entrance fee is £2 a head which the winner collects but then has to buy drinks all round. With beer and lager at well over £2 a pint and about 30 players involved, his glory comes at a high cost. The lowest scorer suffers just as much because he has to buy crisps for everyone, and they are about 50p a packet.
The trick, of course, is to finish in the middle and many are the calculations during the round to ensure you don't score too well or too badly. I'm not sure there's a contingency plan for the day they all come in with the same score.
The Chips and Crisps run their own handicapping system and every year at this time they get together for an annual tournament followed by a supper which is a splendidly garish affair thanks to the rule that you must wear the most outrageously gaudy shirt you can find. The best I could manage was a pathetically demur black and white check which suffered greatly in comparison with a collection of shirts that could only have been bought in the back streets of Hawaii.
There were more than 60 participants for the tournament and each was allocated a partner. I had drawn Jeff, a very good player and I was looking forward to the game. Unfortunately, I had unwittingly arranged to play on three consecutive days. On Tuesday, I played in high winds at Radyr and on Wednesday in a force-five gale at Royal Porthcawl.
When I awoke on Thursday, I have to confess that my legs did not seem capable of tackling another round of damp and windy golf but I couldn't possibly pull out.
Mike came up with a solution. He was playing in the group behind mine and had hired the club buggy because of a back problem. He suggested we swap partners so I could have a ride with him.
My original partner Jeff agreed with an alacrity I didn't find flattering, as did Mike's partner Peter. Being able to ride saved my life but it didn't do much for my score.
Jeff and Peter, meanwhile, had a great day and, with scores of 37 and 36 respectively, had a joint total of 73 and were in the bar celebrating being contenders when they were told that it was wrong to swap partners because high and low handicappers had been carefully paired.
Disqualification was threatened but it was finally decided we would have to revert to our original partners for scoring purposes. My total of 24 didn't do much for my chances but it completely ruined Jeff's. It was difficult not to laugh.
Tip of the week
No 75: Rotation, rotation, rotation
No matter how good a golfer you are, there are always days when the swing simply doesn't feel right. So often, this is because the body loses connection with the arms and they then swing independently of each other.
Therefore try this rotational exercise for great connection and better ball-striking: take your normal stance, and swing back halfway, just so the club is parallel to the ground.
At this point, the shaft should still be pointing at your navel and the toe of the club should be pointing directly upwards in the air. You should have made at least three-quarters of your shoulder turn.
From this position simply turn back through the ball to finish in a mirror position, with the shaft of the club still pointing at your navel, with the toe of the club in the air, and you should be turned to face the target.
Practise hitting some soft shots. Getting this feel of rotation will really help your ball-striking and connection.
Simon Iliffe is head professional at Bramley Golf Club, Surrey. www.theshortgame.co.uk