The Hacker: This is not the same old story, I really did tame the Old Course

Not being one to brag – mainly because I've never had much to brag about – I find it difficult to recount my experience on the Old Course at St Andrews last week without a note of triumphalism creeping in.

It is also out of context in a column that for 12 years or so has been devoted to relating the frustrations, tribulations and calamities of being an incurably bad golfer to describe something overwhelmingly pleasant and satisfying.

I scored an amazing 21 points on the front nine of the oldest and most revered golf course in the world. This patch of purple didn't last, of course. I scored only 12 on the back nine but I sill finished with 33 points which is a personal best at the home of golf.

We've been taking advantage of the winter golf package at St Andrews since 1999. This year there were 16 of us, staying at the Rusacks Hotel and playing three rounds, including one on the Old, over three days.

That much golf is not easy on the legs for us older folks and we've had to face a wide, and often wild, variety of weather conditions but we've never failed to have a great time. This was one of the best – the weather was kind for the time of year; a bit chilly at first but plenty of sun, little wind and no rain.

Our third and final round was on the Old on Monday and, after two rousing nights, some of us were a little fragile when we stood on the first tee. There's hardly a more trouble-free vista in golf but, somehow, the aura of the place makes it a very nervy drive.

Chris, who plays off three and was making his debut, hit one straight down the middle. I did likewise and Potty, who plays off 14, sent his slightly down the right.

Martin, a four-handicapper and whose dental surgery I frequent, pulled a head-high drive to the left and we all shouted "fore" as it headed for a three-ball coming up the 18th. They saw it but it pitched low, swerved left and caught the middle man a nasty blow on the shin. Ashen-faced, Martin hurried over to give his apologies and I followed at a safe distance.

As we passed one of his partners he said: "I'd better warn you that he's one of the top litigation lawyers in Scotland." He wasn't, of course. He happened to be an old friend of mine, Malcolm Campbell, the well-known golf writer who lives close by.

As Malcolm put Martin at his ease, I explained: "He's a dentist, they're always hurting people." He must have been winning because, far from showing him any sympathy, his other companion said: "A pity you didn't hit him when he was playing the first."

Martin promptly hit his next shot into the Swilken Burn and I walked forward to find to my delight that I had outdriven the others. I carefully placed the ball on to the Astroturf mat you have to use on the fairways in winter and sent a nine-iron soaring towards the green.

It looked a peach but then dropped into the burn. They all gave me a bollocking for not taking an eight but after that I hardly put a shot wrong. The boys couldn't believe how well I was playing. I certainly couldn't. It was like floating on a magic carpet and my 21 points going out was three better than Chris who was havinga good day himself.

As I feared, the bubble burst on my two least favourite holes – the 13th and 14th – which I blobbed, but when we arrived at the 17th Chris informed me that if I did the last two in eight shots I'd finish with 99. Alas, the Road Hole found me out. I went through the green and over the road and took an eight.

At least my 33 took me into joint sixth with Simon, our club champion, and only three points behind David, the winner over three rounds. That is a distinct improvement on my previous 11 visits when my usual prize has been a chocolate golf ball for finishing last.

p.corrigan@independent.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
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

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition