The Hacker: Playing off the wrong-colour tees gives me the blues
Sunday 22 May 2011
It was by far the best drive I've hit off the first tee in a competition this year; high, straight and long. When my two playing partners stepped up, neither could match it and I was feeling buoyed up for a good round.
Then, one of the trio who were playing behind us reached the tee and shouted: "Why have you played off the yellow tees when you should be off the blues?"
My heart sank. Stupidly, I had teed up my ball between the yellow markers instead of the blue competition tee 15 yards back and my partners had followed suit.
They weren't very happy because it meant there was a two-stroke penalty and we had to re-take the drives from the blues.
To say I was furious with myself is putting it mildly and my ill temper produced a half-cocked pull that trundled through the trees that separate the first and the 18th fairways.
My attempt to loft a nine-wood over the trees almost succeeded but caught a top branch and dropped back. I then tried to punch a low shot through but it skewed off a tree trunk and rebounded to the middle of the 18th green.
Those heartless souls around the clubhouse who had witnessed all this were doubled up with poorly-suppressed laughter as I dropped the ball off the green and made another forlorn attempt to clear the trees.
To cut a long story short, by the time I reached my original drive I'd taken eight and was still 150 yards from the green.
My recent slight improvement having been built on a relaxed approach to the game, I was in no fit state to acquire the state of mind that the late, great Seve Ballesteros described as "tranquilo".
However, after reaching the ninth with the grand total of 11 points I did manage to introduce a calm composure into my swing that produced an amazing 18 points in six holes.
I then hit an almighty slice on the 16th and my tranquilo went with it. Despite not scoring on the last three holes I still finished with 29 points but how much better would it have been without that mistake on the first?
The tranquilo also went missing a few days earlier when I was called in as a late replacement in a friendly match which has been played annually for 40 years between members of Royal Wimbledon and The Glamorganshire.
It took place over three days; the first round at Cardiff Golf Club, the second at Royal Porthcawl and the third at The Glamorganshire.
I was called upon to replace one of the visitors who couldn't get down for the first game. The problem was it was the Glamorganshire lot who chose me. If the Wimbledon team suspected that they'd been landed with a stumer by their rivals, they were far too polite to show it.
But when I drove into the woods twice off the first tee it would have been very difficult to think otherwise. I had the pleasure of partnering Steve Hamer, who was chairman of Swansea City in the early Nineties, who fought manfully to keep our opponents Dave and Malcolm at bay.
I did buck up and managed to come in on a few holes but they finished us off at the 17th. But it was an enjoyable game followed by a highly convivial curry night.
I didn't see them again until after the third and final round when I discovered that Royal Wimbledon had lost the series by just one game. I was grateful that none of them mentioned the pivotal role I'd played in their downfall.
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