The Hacker: Past captains never die, they just shuffle off and get plastered

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The Independent Online

After a few weeks in the clouds, I was returned to earth with an abrupt lack of gentleness in a past captains match last week. That'll teach me to think I was on the edge of a breakthrough.

My partnership with John had seen us win our first two matchesin the Stoddart Cup, a foursomes knockout tournament, to reach the last 16.

On my own, I had won my first-round match in the Veterans Cup against Trefor, who is a better player but had to give me five shots, which proved to be the telling factor in a very pleasant game.

Then my four-man team taking part in a charity day finished in fourth place which, while not a triumph, at least brought a prize. It also meant that for the first time in my life I had been rewarded in four events in a row.

This was heady stuff. I approached my next challenge with confidence, which is not my normal companion on the way to the first tee.

The occasion was our annual match against the past captains of Creigiau, a club to the north of Cardiff with whom we have a long association.

They say there's nothing more past than a past captain and it is sadly so. For one year you are the much-respected figurehead of the club, addressed deferentially as captain, and there are forelocks being tugged as you pass by.

It is not an easy job coping with the many problems that life in a busy golf club throws up – as well as keeping the peace between warring factions.

But it doesn't take long to go from being at the very centre of things to being on the outside, frustratingly uninvolved. You soon find yourself among the bunch of gnarled old-timers who occupy their regularseats in the bar like unemployed magistrates taking a patriarchal, and largely disapproving, view of what is going on around them.

It's no wonder that members of this ignored fraternity gather together. Every region in the county has a past captains society and they meet regularly to play each other. And most clubs have past captains matches against other clubs which, at least, get rid of the old sods for a day.

I was partnered by Richard in our fourball better-ball match against former Creigiau captains Bill Fear and Tom Hunter and it was clear from the start that we were in trouble.

Richard had been on holiday for three weeks during which he hadn't picked up a club and I didn't look as if I'd handled a club in a year.

Not that it made much difference because Bill and Tom played very well and dovetailed perfectly. When they learned before the start that I would be having 11 shots they weren't very happy.

However, it soon became clear that this was not a generous allowance and, being gentlemen, they didn't mention it again as they set about kippering us by the 15th.

What made it worse was that we were the only Glamorganshire pair to lose in what was otherwise a handsome victory for our club.

In my quest to harbour only positive thoughts, I prefer to remember my previous outing when my foursomes partner John and I defeated Phil and Mike in the Stoddart Cup.

They, too, had knocked out a fancied pair in the first round and gave us a tough challenge with Mike, particularly, playing a canny game.

A plasterer by trade, Phil plays off 26 and did not have his best game while I somehow managed to hit a few telling shots at the right time. We won at the 17th.

Phil was recently asked by the captain if he'd do a spot of plastering for him. Phil said he would do the plastering if the captain would teach him how to play better golf.

The captain thought about it and said: "It would be easier if you taught me plastering."