It does a golfer good to know where he stands in this great game of ours but I wasn’t prepared for the revelation at the weekend that I stand precisely 69 shots away from Rory McIlroy.
After Rory’s amazing record victory at the Quail Hollow tournament on Sunday someone who is knowledgeable about these things calculated that if Rory was an amateur he would have a handicap of +16.
It so happened that the previous day I had played in one of our club’s most prestigious tournaments, The Barbarian Cup, and, to cut a long and disastrous story short, I recorded a score of 123 which is 53 above par and for which I am utterly ashamed.
There is no-one in the world able to get anywhere near Rory at the moment so who am I to complain about being so far adrift of him?
But a gap of 69 shots puts me several planets away. That having been said, it does raise the question of what would happen if I played him according to those scores.
If full allowance applied he would have to give me four shots on 15 holes and three shots on the other three.
If you think about it, it might be worth playing him for a £1, £1, £1 — but I definitely would draw the line at 50p for birdies
We are now entering the realm of fantasy, of course, because Rory would never play me. He’s far too busy.
And even if he did, certain other considerations would come into play. For a start, when professionals play against amateurs they play off scratch and when hackers get on the tee they play off a maximum of 28.
So my dream of playing Rory off the full difference of 69 wouldn’t materialise and I certainly wouldn’t play him with only 28 shots so we’ll have to leave it.
All of which, of course, is a blessed distraction from the serious part of this report which is my deplorable display on the course. It will not amaze you that I do have a good reason for my wretchedness. I won’t call it an excuse because it carries a certain amount of self blame, quite a lot of it actually.
The previous evening I attended a convivial dinner at which I had determined to keep in mind that I was due to play golf the following morning. Unfortunately, my memory isn’t too good these days.
And when we reached home, I had a couple with my son-law-law. At 2.30, he went to bed and I popped into the office to check my emails. When he got up at 7.30, he found me still sitting at the computer fast asleep.
I can’t tell you how stiff my neck was. It was pointless going to bed at that time so I had a sausage sandwich and made my way slowly down to the club. I was playing with |Mike Hennessy who’d had a similar night at a different function.
Luckily, we had booked a buggy but I have to say that our attempts at a smooth swing were not impressive. I won’t bore you with the details apart from the astounding fact I didn’t go into one bunker so I can’t blame getting stuck under a lip or anything like that.
Mike scored 120, which he regarded a a major triumph, but it wasn’t pretty and we both delivered withering self-bollockings. How the hell can you take yourself or your game seriously if you don’t prepare properly and present yourself at the tee in decent shape. It was a valuable lesson at the start of the season.
But I rather resented the fact that I came in bottom place. It wasn’t an easy scoring day. There was a nasty, cold wind and only two scores out of 200 were nett under-par and the lowest gross was 76. The telling figure was 22 Nrs.
An NR is the golfing opposite of a VC — the cowards medal. If you are ashamed of your score you enter a ‘No Return’ and your score stays a secret. I know of one bloke who scored in excess of 140 and tore his card up another who started 10, 7, 14 and got stuck in a bunker on the 4th and finally threw his ball out in disgust.
At least I had the courage to face up to my failings and the ignominy I inevitably suffered. It make me all the determined to break 100 in this my 80th year or give up trying. Even Rory couldn’t say fairer than that.