The Hacker: The day I outscored Goosen and drove better than Hamilton

There's pressure on the first shot of the day, and there's pressure on your first shot of the day. There I was, looking down from an elevated tee towards a long, thin green guarded by seven bunkers. The course was strange to me, the wind was howling, the rain had started to lash and the sodden sea of long grass to carry was surely moving, racked by malevolent swells.

And there he was, the team leader, standing behind, watching. Retief Goosen. Yes, that Retief Goosen, the dual US Open winner, placed in three Masters. The occasion was the Pro-Am before the European Open at the London Club in Kent 11 days ago. And I swear the deck on which I was trying to balance was churning.

I had already experienced one panic; misunderstanding directions to get to the 11th hole for the shotgun start, I found myself wandering lost, increasingly wild-eyed and babbling, down a winding woodland path. I was eventually put right by a charming American who, if the name on the bib of the chap with him was correct, must have been another Major winner, Ben Curtis.

Our opening hole was par three, though the flag, bent by the gale, looked at least 500 yards away. Please, not an air shot in front of the great man, at least not first time of asking. Deep breath. Slow it down. Shorten your backswing. For God's sake remember to follow through. My goodness me, the ball is not only airborne but vaguely in the right direction. And I'll take the short rough to the right of the green 11 times out of 10.

Some minutes later, having chipped out to six feet, I was lining up my putt, helped by my new best friend. Left edge, Sue? Just what I thought, Retief. Nice par, Sue. Thanks, Retief. What were you down for? Four, was it? US Open – you're 'avin a larf.

Needless to say, bragging rights ended right there. That course, under those conditions, was way out of the comfort zone of a 20-handicapper. The rough, which I got to know rather too intimately at every available opportunity, was of a hitherto unknown deep, clingy consistency; it was the Velcro hooks and the fluffy bit was on my club. The greens seemed to wobble as if in a hall of mirrors. I tell you, those guys are good.

But, the weather and the cringe-making golf apart, gosh, it was fun. I was able to watch the focus and fluid swing of a world-class professional at close quarters, I was an object of envy for the punters outside the ropes. I got five "good shots" from the amiable, if reserved, South African star and one ripple of applause from a small, faithful wet gallery as I chipped on to two feet. And yes, I did nonchalantly tip the peak of my cap.

Despite Retief's brave efforts, and those of fellow amateurs Ian and Nick, our Rolex-sponsored team failed to make the prizes. But those below us on the leaderboard included some genuine celebrities, including the reigning Formula One world champion. Which made me wonder, can I now claim to drive better than Lewis Hamilton?

s.montgomery@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'