The second half of our winter league began on Sunday with 104 valiant souls reporting to their allocated tees for the 9 am shotgun start — and were plagued by an unusual glut of air-shots.
Perhaps it was the Christmas break in which the course was waterlogged for much of the time which led to the rustiness of some of the swings but when the chief snake, Jammy James, made his lunchtime report on the morning’s proceedings, while standing on a stool in a packed bar, the air-shot report took him much longer than usual.
One of the penalties of missing the ball is having your name read out together with the time of the offence and long was the jeering that greeted each culprit. But we think that history was made in the case of local cricketers Nick Morgan and Tom Sidford who are partnering each other in the foursomes event.
At 10.17 Nick missed the ball on the 11th and at 10.18 Tom avoided contact with the same ball. The fact the ball was close to a tree trunk did not save their blushes. No-one can ever remember consecutive air-shots before.
But, although they didn’t win that hole, they did go on to win their match against a much fancied pair Paul Mantle and Martin Best.
The chief snake’s favourite air shot came a couple of winters ago when a hapless hacker attempted to hit a ball which was also at the foot of a tree. The club-face missed the ball but not the tree and the club snapped in half. Then he discovered it wasn’t his ball.
I managed not to have an air shot but that was largely due to the fact I wasn’t playing. I am missing the second half because I shall be away for at least four Sundays of the ten week session.
I shall put my name on the substitutes list in case anyone is desperate enough to require the services of a hacker with plenty of shots but I’ll play as often I can and when I am not playing I shall be practising .
Since the year began I have followed my declared policy of having a club in my hand every day. When I can’t get on the course, which is most days at the moment, I attack the lounge carpet. I either putt or, more regularly, chip air balls onto the armchair.
I am determined to get my chipping routine grooved and it also helps my fitness because I have to move the chair a lot to get at the balls trapped underneath it.
If I am to achieve my declared ambition of breaking 100 in a medal when they start in the spring, my chipping has to improve. Peter Dobereiner, the great golf writer, once recommended that I practised with a 50p coin. He said that if you can master the precision necessary to chip one of those from the carpet to the armchair on a regular basis your chipping problems will be over.
I’ve tried it occasionally but a 50p is a nasty missile to be flying around a lounge so I’ll stick to the air balls for the moment.