The Hacker: The Claw faces indignity of wielding the wooden spoon

There will be a few players shivering around our course this morning and not just because of the cold. It is the final day of our winter league foursomes and the candidates for the dreaded wooden spoon will be nervously negotiating the frozen fairways.

Well over 100 have been contesting the 10-week session and although there are glittering prizes awaiting the top pairs, the first priority for everyone is to avoid the ignominy that awaits the winners of the spoon.

The format for the league, which is called the Snakes and Ladders, is that each Sunday the winners move up the ladder and the losers move down so, gradually, the best and the worst end up playing each other. Down among the dross is where the intensity is fiercest.

Two huge spoons, bought off the back of a donkey in Spain, are displayed prominently in the bar. One is for the session leading up to Christmas and the other for the 10 weeks leading up to Easter. To have your name displayed there is a permanent disgrace.

There's a tinge of sadness about the poor wretches who are in contention because among them is Lennie Ingram, a good footballer and cricketer in his day, who didn't take up golf until six years ago, aged 61 and already suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

The condition hasn't improved and his hands are so bent and gnarled that it is a miracle he can hit the ball at all.

But with special grips on his clubs and indomitable enthusiasm he enjoys his golf as much as anyone. He is much admired and with that sensitivity for which winter golfers are renowned he is known affectionately as "the claw".

Last spring he surprised everyone by winning the winter league along with partner Peter Goodfellow, a 13-handicapper. Despite playing off the top handicap of 28, Lennie's half-swing kept the ball straight and between them they proved a formidable foursomes pair.

This time, alas, Lennie has fared less well with his old partner Maurice Flynn. Maurice, who plays off 28, is well-known as an air-shot specialist and wooden spoon recidivist and up until last weekend they had won only one match.

With Lennie away last Sunday, Maurice called on a steady substitute in Gwyn Griffiths and they had high hopes against Andrew, the club pro, and Roger Alban, another 28-handicapper.

To his credit, Andrew always plays with a high-handicapper but, cruelly, he has to play off scratch despite the fact he rarely plays. He puts up with the mockery manfully and, despite having to give Maurice and Gwyn 10 shots, he and Roger won on the 19th.

When Lennie came home he was neither happy nor complimentary about Maurice. In turn, Maurice has been complaining about Lennie's fall from form. He has been telling people confidentially: "After winning last winter they dropped him from 28 to 27 and I think his new handicap has gone to his head. He has delusions of mediocrity."

Today Lennie and Maurice will have to settle their differences to meet the challenge of the pair they beat earlier, Ged Donovan and Brian Jones, two 21-handicappers who haven't won a single match yet and are out for revenge.

On the final day, contenders for the top and bottom prizes take out Stableford cards in case of ties and if they lose and have an inferior points total the shadow of the spoon will be upon them.

Their only hope then would be the mercy of the chief snake, Bob Bubbins, who has it in his power to award the spoon to someone other than the bottom pair.

Renowned for his warped sense of humour, he could well single out the club's honorary solicitor, Bob Edwards, who has had a wretched session with his partner Peter Morgan. It depends whether being singled out for this dishonour without due cause is actionable.

p.corrigan@independent.co.uk

Tip of the week

No 78: Know your balls

If you're looking for more length it can be just as important to use the correct ball as the right driver.

Golf balls are constructed in layers, with a core and outer cover for a two-piece ball and a core, a mantle and cover for a three-piece ball. Some even have another layer to produce a four-piece ball.

With more layers you will gain extra control around the greens. That doesn't mean you need to sacrifice distance.

But the most important factor is the compression of the ball. Most amateurs will select a ball with far too high compression, which means they can't compress the ball enough at impact, therefore losing distance.

If it's purely distance you're looking for many men will hit a ladies' golf ball further as it has a much lower compression.

Next time you're playing, ask your professional to help you select the right ball for your game.

Simon Iliffe is head professional at Bramley Golf Club, Surrey. www.theshortgame.co.uk

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Life and Style
i100

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week