The Hacker: Porky shows there's more to life than golf – there's food and drink
Sunday 03 July 2011
We are at the height of golf's social scene, in which captain's days, charity events and summer balls fill the humdrum life of a hacker with all the bonhomie he doesn't normally get from the game.
Indeed, at our club the less gifted players can find themselves not only hobnobbing with the hotshots but actually playing with them.
The captain's day tournament is a foursomes event in which the pairs are chosen at random – one from the lower handicappers and one from the higher – so that the best player in the club could find himself partnering the worst.
While it is true that severe tensions can result from such a liaison, it is also possible that with a few choice shots a hacker can become a hero on the day. Unfortunately, that wasn't my experience. I was drawn with Arwyn, my former bank manager, who plays off 12. I'm loath to give him credit, because he never used to give me any, but he played well. However, we never dovetailed and staggered to 25 points, which was a long way short of the winning total of 40.
But the captain invariably makes it an enjoyable day. Maurice, this year's incumbent, was there at halfway to greet each of the 250 competitors with a drink and a bite to eat.
This year we were each provided with a Yorkshire pudding containing gravy and a sausage which, apparently, is a delicacy where he comes from.
Back at the clubhouse we had a splendid cold buffet, and then at the prizegiving in the evening we had another free meal of fish and chips. It is a bit like the Olympics: the glory lies not in the winning but in the eating and drinking.
A few days later was the Bears golf day, which has raised more than £35,000 for local youth sport. I'm president, largely because I'm the only one sober enough to make a speech at the presentation dinner, although that was a questionable claim this year. The comedian was even less sober than me. We laughed so much at one joke, he told it again two minutes later.
We had 17 teams of four competing. The format is the best three scores at each hole to count. With me were Paul, a surveyor, Leon, an RAF officer, and Richard, a tax inspector; not only pillars of society but good golfers who helped us to 118 points, which earned fourth prize of a golf glove and a hat each.
However, the high spot was Paul getting a hole-in-one at the last, which also earned him the nearest-the-pin prize. Had it been an official competition he would have received £100. As it wasn't, he got nothing, but still had to buy the customary two bottles of scotch.
Then we had the summer ball at which the star was Porky, who plays off five but hasn't had a good time of late. He and Matt were the favourites in our top foursome competition but they were beaten by myself and John Dodd. It was a shock defeat Porky will never live down.
He played a few groups behind us on the Bears day and on the 18th he hit an exquisite tee-shot that finished only inches from the flag. He marched proudly on to the green to measure what he was certain would win him the nearest-the-pin award, only to be told of Paul's hole-in-one.
He was drowning his sorrows at the summer ball a couple of days later when it was learned that he and his long-time partner – of the non-golfing variety – were thinking of getting married. He was dragged on to the stage and persuaded to get on one knee to do a proper proposal.
It was a touching moment which reminded us that life isn't all about golf. It's only nine-tenths of it.
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