The Hacker: These young upstarts are starting to steal my blunder

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The Independent Online

My position as the club's worst player in medal rounds has been snatched from me by a newcomer who returned the highest score of 113 in the Centurion Cup.

This is a competition for all those who have failed to break 100 at least once in a medal during the year. More than 120 sad souls qualified as centurions, but about half of them didn't turn up because they were too ashamed.

Among the prizes on offer was a bottle of scotch for the worst score, which I had won for the previous two years. That I didn't win it this year is not due to any improvement in my golf, but because I didn't play thanks to my Achilles tendon injury.

So I had to watch as Peter Chaffey, who only joined this year, collected the bottle to the usual ribaldry. But I stifled my envy because it is good to see the young hackers coming through.

Alas, Peter had further disgrace to come in the winter league last Sunday as one of those who had an air-shot that morning.

One of the features of our excellent winter league, which is called the Snakes and Ladders, and is being contested by a full house of 144, is that any slip-ups on the course are gleefully reported when the players gather in the spikes bar for a few pints afterwards.

Naturally, air-shots are a common failure. When you get that many players thrashing about – they take about 5,000 shots between them – a few are bound to miss the ball completely.

The format is foursomes and we have a shotgun start at 9am with two matches starting on each hole. This means a long walk for many of the players. Peter and his partner were off the 12th, which is the furthest tee from the clubhouse and the best part of a mile away. Maybe he was tired from the walk but he put his ball on the tee-peg and his massive swipe failed to connect. It was an embarrassment shared by a few others including another beginner, Nigel Mason, but he was given a special cheer for hitting the fairway for the first time in three weeks.

But air-shots do not confine themselves to hackers and the biggest cheer of the day greeted news that Brian Rigby, our greens chairman, had missed the ball on the 15th. Brian, whose handicap had just gone up from one to two, had been put under a leylandii tree by his partner Dave Cooper.

Our course is in great shape at the moment but we do have more than our fair share of leylandii and although a good few have been chopped down, we hackers would welcome the disappearance of more because they are not the hacker's best friend.

Either the ball stays up in the tree or drops below the very low branches and is very difficult to get to. This is what happened to Brian and because they had to give a shot on that hole, he decided to try to swat it out with a four-wood.

He confessed to missing the ball by a foot. I suggested that he chopped the bloody thing down. "It's coming down tomorrow," he said. I think he was joking.

That's the beauty of "The Snakes". It is a great leveller and over the next 20 weeks they will be engaged in one of golf's less sophisticated manifestations.

For various reasons, I haven't entered this year but I am available as a substitute. No one has called on me yet but I'm sure someone will get desperate.