The Hacker: The only medal I will get is for breaking the ton hundreds of times

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The Independent Online

Regular readers have long become accustomed to being addressed from the depths of despair, which is where we hackers spend most of our wretched golfing existence.

But never have I descended to the depth I sank to last weekend, when in the final monthly medal of the year I accumulated the humiliating score of 124.

This, from someone who had convinced himself he was on the brink of breaking 100 at last, was beyond pathetic. I very nearly failed to break 100 with my nett score.

My playing companions, Mike and Max, who do their very best to encourage and help me fight my demons, were aghast. Not only did I let them down, I also failed my teaching pro, who has patiently persuaded the tension out of my swing – which is now slower and smoother as a result.

I also had a free session from a sports psychologist, who offered help when he read about my struggles.

The only saving grace is I have not identified them. I promised to give them full credit only when I broke through the 100 barrier, because to have mentioned their association with me prematurely might have ruined their careers.

Don't worry, lads, your anonymity is safe with me. It's not your fault that whenever I set forth on a medal round I will fall victim, sooner or later, to two main failings.

The first, a tendency for my head to shoot up like a startled meerkat just before contact; and the second, an occasional and irresistible urge to take a savage lunge at the ball.

Despite my most earnest efforts they both lurk, ready to strike without warning, and they played their part in burdening me with the highest total I've ever returned.

Not only was it the worst of the day by seven shots, it also contrasted embarrassingly with a 64 returned by Mark Lewis, the former Cardiff Blues flanker, who was elevated to plus one as a result.

I didn't even have the weather as an excuse. It was a beautiful day and our greens have never been as slick.

There is a massive irony in all this: my swing has never been sweeter; neither have I struck so many good shots as I have this year; and in the knockout competitions I have performed better than at any other time in my life.

But in medals, no matter how well I seem to be playing, disaster is hiding in the trees waiting to pounce. It's been suggested that I spend so much time writing about my struggles to break 100 that I've created a mental barrier I'll never be able to cross.

When I play matchplay it is usually against a much better opponent, so there is no expectation of me. With no pressure, I relax and swing the club in the slow and smooth manner I've been taught, and the results have been remarkable.

I have to find a way during the autumn and winter to carry that composure into strokeplay, but I'm not the only victim of my century-breaking obsession.

A few years ago, Mike did some research and discovered that about 120 of the members who played in the monthly medal failed to break 100 at least once during the year. Thus was formed the Centurion club – and we play for the Centurion Cup next weekend.

Not everyone who qualifies is happy about it. No one used to worry if their score wandered above 100, but now they get jittery.

Some players don't put their cards in if they've strayed above the ton. The Centurion Cup is regarded as a competition for down-and-outs, and they claim we have prizes for the shortest drive and furthest away from the pin.

At least we hackers face reality.It takes courage to keep believingthat the only way is up when youare steadfastly moving in the opposite direction.

p.corrigan@independent.co.uk

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