The Hacker: This time Porky's champagne is not on ice for winter league
Now is the winter league of our discontent. Just one week gone of our 10-week competition through the dark and nasty months and already we are spoken of as prime candidates for the wooden spoon.
Admittedly, a five-and-three defeat on the first day does not augur well but my partner Bob and I are trying hard not to be too downhearted.
As genuine hackers we have learned through bitter experience to take defeat on the chin, shake off any feelings of despair and look on the bright side.
After all, there are more than 100 playing in the winter league and half of those were on the losing side as well. And at least we didn't fall out like some of them did.
It is not easy signing up to play foursomes with the same bloke for three months. Playing alternate shots means he has to salvage the ball after your cock-ups and you have to repair the damage he does.
I've had partners in the past who haven't responded well to my golfing mishaps. One once put a heavy hand on my shoulder and said: "For gawd's sake stop saying sorry every time you mess up. One big apology at the end will do."
It didn't make for a pleasant partnership but thankfully Bob and I are hardened to disaster, he being off 26, me off 28. We are showing dogged patience with each other.
I didn't quite see the look on his face when I squirted the first tee shot 40 yards to the left because he was halfway down the fairway. He looked happy enough on his long walk back to play the second shot.
He then hit a superb shot and we managed to halve the hole, which cheered us up because we were playing a fancied pair. Liam, off eight, hits the ball out of sight while Robert is very steady off 15.
They had to give us 16 shots, and playing conditions on a sodden course weren't easy. Three of the holes were closed and there were three not very good temporary greens so it was a promising day for a bit of giant-killing.
For the first five holes we held our own but they were hitting far longer and straighter off the tee and gradually wore us down. The game ended at the very short 13th, which they didn't play very well but we were dreadful.
There were far worse disasters than ours. Big Al and his partner were five up with six to play and all Al had to do was to hit a half-decent three-wood from the middle of the fairway and victory was assured. He missed it completely and they lost that hole – and the next five.
One of the more intriguing partnerships is Peter Edmunds, known as Porky, and Maurice Flynn. Porky plays off five and usually selects a bandit as a partner but on this occasion chose Maurice, who is renowned as one of the club's top air-shot specialists and regular wooden spoon contender.
Last week they ran one of the fancied pairs close, losing only two and one. Today fate has decreed that we are their next opponents.
Porky is delighted. He is still trying to live down his humiliation of last year when I was on the winning side against him.
He and Matthew Davey were the favourites to win the foursomes cup and were drawn to play me and John Dodd, the rank outsiders. We were promised two bottles of champagne if we won, and we did.
Porky was the butt of cruel mickey-taking. The look of revenge in his eyes when he heard he was facing me was frightening. They have to give us 10 shots but no one is offering champagne this time.
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