How Quinters
proved them wrong

As it says at the top, this column is usually dedicated to the less gifted of golfers because it is at our end of the game that most of the more interesting dramas and disasters take place. It is also kinder than saying it is dedicated to crap golfers.

This week, however, it is dedicated to a golfer who is not only very good but who last weekend produced an inspirational performance, especially for anyone beset by cancer.

Mike Davis was 20 years old when he won the club championship at Glamorganshire in 1966 and his name has appeared regularly on the club’s honour boards. He has been an immaculate member on and off the course.

His nickname is ‘Quinters’, which is short for quintessential Englishman……..tall, handsome, distinguished, debonair and with no trace of the uncouthness we Welshmen tend to be blessed with. He doesn’t even spell his name the Welsh way.

I first met him shortly after taking up the game in my mid-forties when I made the mistake of entering the singles knockout. I’d never played against a category one golfer before and was so mesmerised I didn’t bother to keep score.

When we walked off the eleventh green he said, quietly: ’I think we’re supposed to shake hands.’

I looked at him quizzically. ‘The game is over,’ he explained, almost apologetically.

I’d been done like a kipper, eight and seven, but it had been so pleasant my only regret was that it was over.

It was Mike who encouraged me to think of myself as less gifted than some of my more lurid self-descriptions.

Like me, he also plays at Royal Porthcawl where he is one of a small group of patient playing partners who help me look for my ball.

And, like me, he has fallen foul of cancer in the last couple of years. While he was having a hip transplant, it was discovered he had myeloma which eventually required a stem cell transplant.

A year ago, he was told that there were serious doubts if he could ever play golf again which was a savage irony considering that the version of the disease I had didn’t carry such a harsh fate.

However, he ventured out after a while wielding a wedge over a few gentle holes and gradually worked his way up to a full game, then another…. until he came into this season playing regularly.

Last week he reached an unbelievable crescendo. He played on Wednesday and Friday at Porthcawl. On Saturday he ventured out in the Barbarian Cup, one of our most prestigious competitions, after making a late decision to enter.

Beginning in 1901, the Barbarian rugby club used to make our club their headquarters for their Easter Tour of South Wales. They used to play Penarth on Good Friday, Cardiff on Saturday, Swansea on Easter Monday and Newport on Tuesday.

On Easter Sunday they used to spend the day at Glamorganshire, playing a strange form of golf and joining members for a big sing-song in the evening.

In 1925 the Barbarian players had whip-round to present the club with a solid silver cup which is now our prized possession. Although the Easter Tour is sadly no longer we still hold a Barbarians weekend on which the members play for the Barbarian Cup on Saturday and the rugby clubs who used play the Baa-Baas, plus a couple of ex-Baa-Baa sides, play for a trophy on Sunday.

As it is our first major tournament of the year, there is always a big entry and the course is stretched to its longest.

This year the conditions were perfect — dry course, warm sun and no wind — but no-one ran riot. The highest gross was 76 and four players were tied for first place on nett 70.

Traditionally, we don’t do count-backs in the Barbarian Cup so a play-off was ordered for 8.30 the following morning which was a touch awkward because by the time they learned they were in a play-off the four concerned were already embarked on their Saturday night drinks.

One of them was Mike Davis who was enjoying a convivial night at the club’s fish supper.

Mike, who used to play off four but is now off 11, was a bit concerned at having to play in the morning because he had already agreed to play in the rugby clubs’ comp in the afternoon.

In the four with Mike were Steve Scarrett (off 7), Nathan Waters (12) and Chris Burns (19) and although the golf was average they had a great battle. Going down the 17th, Steve was in front but he took a nine and then drove out of bounds on the 18 while Mike stayed calm over the final two holes and sank the winning putt.

He then had 20 minutes to get ready for the afternoon round for which he gratefully accepted the use of a buggy. But his winning day wasn’t over. He won the best two-ball prize with Ifan Davies and the best team prize with the President’s team.

At the presentation that evening Welsh International Billy Raybould was fed up handing him prizes.

What Mike didn’t tell the audience was that not only was it the first time he had won the Barbarian Cup it completed a total of 48 years since he won first trophy at Glamorganshire. A year earlier, you could have got a million to one against him registering such a winning weekend.

In case anyone is interested, I was also in the Barbarian Cup. My total was 102

after 15 holes. I then drove into a leylandii tree and it stayed up there. I couldn’t be bothered to go back to the tee and Nrd.

I have six weeks left of my chemo/radio therapy treatment and my ambition is still to break 100 in a medal round. But I’m not sure it would bear close comparison with Mike’s achievement.

How not to
be a hacker

Hackers must be careful not to further upset our fellow golfers . We cause enough trouble behaving normally and we had a indication of the annoyance we can create in our Jubilee Stableford tournament last weekend.

They didn’t want us in the first place. Historically, this was always an event with an 18-handicap limit which they wanted to maintain even when the handicap limits were removed five or six years ago. We eventually won the battle to get the full allowance and the opening of the floodgates to the high handicappers that was forecast hasn’t materialised.

Last week’s competition was won by an eight handicapper and only two plus 18s were in the top ten — that’s probably too many for some purists but it is hardly a revolution, just fair.

Unfortunately, there are other problems hackers can cause which can’t really be excused and one of our members overstepped the mark.. Having been embarrassed myself on several occasions, I am not going to reveal his name.

Besides, I’ve nothing got to brag about. I was lucky to play in the company of two gents who were aware of my chemo problem and were very patient as I hacked about. Tim Edds, who plays off ten, and Chris Burns recently reduced to a 19 handicap.

I wasn’t a complete disaster and was putting for points on most greens. However, not many of them disappeared down the hole and when I totted up my total of points I had only a miserable 13. I was happy enough to be able to complete the 18 holes so I wasn’t too bothered.

It is amazing how those who don’t do too well can take some solace from those who do worse. When I walked into the bar, Andy was sitting mournfully.

’How many points did you get?’ he asked.

As soon I told him, he whooped and set off an a lap of honour of the bar. He had 18, which he felt was a vastly superior total to mine, and it cheered him up immensely. Hackers thrive on moments like this.

Curiosity, and the hope that that someone had performed even more wretchedly than me, took me down for a pint next day and when I looked at the list there was a score of six.

Six! That’s low even by my standards. I made some enquiries and discovered that the man concerned took the game up last year and this is his first full season of competition.

Sadly, he hasn’t got quite the hang of it. I spoke to the two members who played with him and I know them to be the most patient of men. They were quite happy to put up with his failings but not his insistence on finishing every hole not matter how many he scored.

They would hit the ball much further than him and then wait near the green for him to slowly catch up.

But the golden rule in Stableford is that you pick up once you can’t score …….. apparently he went on and on, putting out for tens and elevens. As I said, his partners are very patient men and the round did tend to drag on.

It’s fine in a medal round to finish each hole, as painful as it is, but in a Stableford you kindly leave the stage when you can’t score. I trust he has learned his lesson.

In my own defence, I have to say my major fault was getting the ball near to the hole but not in it. I didn’t drive all that badly and in fact out-drove Tim on two occasions which was mainly due to a duck-hook creeping into his swing.

Mind you, one of his drives went 80 yards while mine went 81 yards. But I’ll take it.

Tim, who is a lawyer with the Welsh government, managed to get 30 points while Chris, an IT man at the University of Wales, had 20 points after eight holes. He then lost a ball up a Lelandii tree and slumped to 35. But it was still a good round and he followed it up by winning the Bank Holiday medal.

His handicap will soon come tumbling down. Mine might take some time.

Past captains
enjoy their dinner

We have a past-captains’ dinner twice a year at The Glamorganshire at which the reigning captain reports on the latest club activities and gets interrogated by those previous occupants of the post still able to turn up and boast how much better things were in their days.

There are usually about 25 present and it is not always a pleasant experience for the current captain who is, of course, just a guest because he is not a past captain yet and is liable to carry the can for anything not running smoothly.

One breed of golfer you can never dodge at a club are past-captains. There’s a new one ever year and as their short period of ultimate power recedes into the past they gradually become accustomed to the brutal truth that their influence is gradually decreasing. That doesn’t stop them talking.

But clubs couldn’t thrive without one brave member being prepared to devote twelve months hard work to leading the club through some stormy waters and taking a load of stick in the process.

Being captain is an honour but you are there to be constantly moaned at. I was once having lunch during my term of office when a harassed member came up to complain that there was no toilet paper in the loo.

I collected the paper napkins from around the table and said:’ Try to manage with these until I can get some.’

It’s 22 years since I was captain so, mercifully, most of my failings would have been forgotten by now but I was lucky in that I was away a lot. About three months before I was due to take over the duties, I was appointed golf correspondent of The Observer which meant much gadding about the world.

I suggested that someone else should replace me but it was decided I should retain the title and that the immediate past captain would stand in for me when necessary.

It worked out fairly well. Wherever I was in the world, I was in touch with the club every day and I didn’t miss one committee meeting. But I probably dodged a lot of flak .

Whatever befalls a captain during his year is usually down to unforeseen events over which he has little control but, whatever happens, the experience does add to his value to the club. Sadly, he is not often called upon to offer it. Yesterday’s men are not encouraged.

What the past-captain’s dinner does is to provide a forum of ideas and opinions that can be a useful guidance in the governance of the club.

It can also lead to bitter arguments, word of which are never aired outside our gathering.

I particularly enjoyed our dinner last week because I played in the past-captains’ tournament and actually completed my first 18 holes since I began my chemotherapy treatment six weeks ago.

I didn’t score very well, 18 miserable points as it happened, but on the 515 yards, par 5, fourth, I produced three good hits and two putted for a par that, as well as the port, kept me happy all night.

Our current captain, Leon Reece, gave an excellent report and the evening was quite harmonious until the subject of trees came up.

We have a large number of Lelandii fur trees on our course which I think are a curse on the face of the earth. Over the winter our ground-staff have been cutting down loads of them to the thunderous applause of all us hackers.

Unfortunately, not everyone likes to see happy hackers and there were some dissenting voices and a constructive argument went on well into the night.

It was the poet Joyce Kilmer (1888 – 1918) who wrote the words:-

‘I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.’

If your ball disappears up one of those leylandii, Joyce, you might have different ideas.

A new way not
to break 100

My attempt to mark my first week of chemotherapy with a much improved display in the first medal of the year and, perhaps, breaking 100 for the first time in 12 years went embarrassingly awry.

Refusing to blame the chemo, I take full responsibility. For a start, it was only vanity that convinced me that I could brush aside the best efforts of medical science and carry on as if nothing was happening.

I felt pretty good, as I always do when the primroses come out, and could not have had more support in my latest and possibly my most foolish attempt to impose my will upon a golf course.

Leon Reece, our captain no less, offered to accompany me and offer the necessary encouragement for me to reach my goal. The third member of our three-ball was Martin Gray another friend capable of solid and expert support. I also hired a buggy to save my legs.

I had been warned that I could expect a bit of fatigue and one or two other side effects such as diarrhoea, for which they gave me tablets to be taken immediately. I forgot them, of course, and regretted it halfway down the first by which I’d already hit my first tree.

I am not blaming the state of my stomach for my seven on the first. But after sinking the putt I jumped in the buggy and raced for our newly-built toilet about 300 yards away. Thankfully, there were no golfers in the way or they would have been mown down unmercifully.

When I returned, my partners had already let the following group through and the next three were waiting but they kindly asked us to play on — no doubt respectful of his captaincy and my incontinency.

Our second is a short but sharply uphill par-three and I didn’t really need the additional audience as I flung my seven iron at the ball. It flew straight along the ground, hit the rim of the cart-path and flew back high over our heads to land at the foot of one our new wooden hole-signs.

I don’t which was more embarrassing, the shot I had just made or watching five men trying desperately not to laugh at a cancer sufferer — a task at which they failed miserably.

Someone eventually composed himself sufficiently to offer the only consolation that was possible. ‘You can get a drop from there,‘ he spluttered..

And so I did. This time the club did its proper job and propelled the ball high towards the green. Unfortunately, it took an unkind bounce and plopped into the greenside bunker.

I splashed out in spectacular fashion and cleared the green by about ten yards into the rough beyond. How I got a six was a miracle.

My comrades could not have been more generously supportive but circumstances other than my golf were making me very uncomfortable.

After five holes, I had compiled scores of 6,7,8,9 and 10 which is a bloody poker hand but not much good on a golf course.

I carried on bravely until the eighth where the toilet is situated near to the cabin where we take our half-way pie and a drink.

‘I’m not going past there,’ I said as we approached the eighth green. ’What, the cabin?’ No, the bloody toilet.

So they left me with my blessings for a peaceful final ten holes while I repaired to the clubhouse to sit in the sun alongside the 18th green, sipping a cup of coffee and taking the piss out of anyone finishing who hadn’t broken 100.

Whatever happens to you in life you must take your pleasures where you can.

Brave Bill
a solitary hero

Despite a brave single-handed display by 19 handicapper Bill Gill, our winter league championship went to Peter ‘Porky’ Edmonds and Dave Kent while Bill’s partner was sunning himself on a beach in Majorca.

Our winter league is a foursomes event for pairs with a minimum combined handicap of 20 and the match format is half the difference. But when one of the pair doesn’t turn up his partner has to give the full difference to their opponents — a draconian punishment but it encourages regular attendance.

Bill’s partner is Bob Edwards and are both retired solicitors. It’s amazing that when solicitors retire they don’t seem to play as much golf as when they working but that’s just a passing thought.

But they have been bang on form lately and were the only pair to storm through the post- Christmas session unbeaten which meant they would play the winners of the pre-Christmas session for the overall championship.

They didn’t seem to expect this because Bob had already booked a holiday in Majorca which mean he wouldn’t be here for the final.

Having been a leading divorce lawyer in the area Bob now seems to be hell bent on being Wales’s leading holidaymaker which is bound to have its inconveniences.

There was talk that he would fly back for the final but that proved to be impossible so Bill was left with a quandary because he was facing a suicide mission.

Porky plays off a hot-shot five while Dave is a bandit of 17 and Bill had to give them five shots. Was it worth the effort? Bill, never shy of accepting a challenge, decided to go ahead and with chief snake, Peter James, as referee and club captain, Leon Reece, in attendance, set off to play way above his handicap.

He lost the first, halved the second but won the third. He then parred the par-five fourth to go one up against his startled opponents. He was doing most of his damage with a rescue club that was flying long and straight.

It helped that Dave Kent was having a bad time and swearing at himself. Porky was assisting in this direction.

They halved the fifth and then Bill lost the sixth to go back to all square. On the short seventh he put his rescue club stone dead to retake the lead. On the par four eighth he hit two cracking rescues to get a half and go up the ninth one up.

But the pressure began to tell and he missed a couple of short putts to go two down after 11 and after 14 was four down.

The 15th is a long, uphill par four and Bill gained a magnificent par while Porky and Dave could only scramble a five. But they had a shot which made it a half and Bill lost 4 and 3.

Captain Leon said it was a great performance. ‘It just shows what a hacker with a deadly rescue club can do.’

Bill would have been the honoured centre of attraction at the prize presentation supper at the club tomorrow night. Unfortunately, he’s gone to Portugal on holiday. It is a lesson to all winter league golfers. Get your bloody priorities right.

My battle
with Tiger

I began this year with a plan to match myself against Tiger Woods. Don’t tell him about it because he has enough to worry about.

Of course, it is a colossal impudence that a golfing wretch like me could even consider himself worthy of occupying the same sentence as Tiger.

However, it is one of golf’s many strengths that it involves a wider and more diverse set of participants than any other sport and we all play the same game on roughly similar courses.

And, thanks to a handicapping system far superior to that of any other sport, Tiger and I could actually play each other. Indeed, if he gave me four shots a hole I’d happily play him for a couple of quid.

But he is No 1 in the world rankings and, if they went down that far, I would be many millions below him and the only reason I dared compare myself to him was that we both entered 2014 with burning ambitions.

He desperately wants to win another major championship — the last one he won was in 2008 — and I am desperate to break 100 in a medal, which I haven’t done for a dozen years or so.

At the time, I wrote that apart from the scale of it all the main difference between me and Tiger is that all I have to conquer are my own deficiencies while he has to beat off the strongest challenges to the major titles there has ever been.

Sadly, he is suffering a back problem that may cause him to miss the opening major of the year, the US Masters at Augusta.

Back spasms forced him to retire during the fourth round of the Honda Classic last month and this week he has pulled out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Orlando.

This, of course, presents me with the opportunity to strike first. My first chance to break 100 comes in the March medal a week on Saturday. Unfortunately, I have a slight set-back of my own.

I wrote a month or so ago about losing my voice which, instead of a rich baritone, now sounds like a high-pitched squeak which my friends find most amusing.

Two weeks ago, scans revealed that I had a tumour in my neck which was affecting my vocal chords. I had cancer of the oesophagus two years ago which resulted in a major operation from which I made a full recovery and, unfortunately, this is a recurrence of the cancer.

But they are hopeful they can cope with it and on Monday I start a few months course of treatment. In the past, I’ve tried everything to improve my game but this is the first time chemotherapy has been brought into play.

They say I should try to carry on as normal so I shall be aiming for that below-ton score. There were few signs of my readiness for the challenge when we played in a Texas Scramble last Saturday.

We managed a nett 64 but were well short of the prizes and, in truth, you have no chance unless you have one of two big hitters in your team. Out of our team of me, Andy, Max and Mike only Andy is a capable of a mighty hit but he doesn’t connect often enough , although he did get a birdie on his own at the short four.

You’ve got to able to reach all the par fours in two and we struggled to reach the par threes in two. But it was enjoyable if a bit cold.

The boys are being very sympathetic with my problem. Most call me Tiny Tim and Mike said that if it happened to me 40 years ago I could have joined the Bee Gees. I’m sure Tiger doesn’t have to put up with all that.

Ruining your
partner’s day

One of the many attractive facets of playing golf regularly is that you can look like a top golfer even if you can’t play like one. All the smart and colourful shirts and trousers you see on television being worn by our heroes in the big tournaments can be purchased by the most wretched of hackers.

You can wear the same gleaming shoes, carry the same shiny clubs, and proceed stylishly towards the first tee. Sadly, the illusion will not survive long once you get there and play your first shot.

Of course, this charade is difficult during the winter months which are not conducive to light garments in pastel shades. Often the contrast is alarming and the way some winter golfers dress is a disgrace. In wet weather they can look like deck hands on a fishing trawler.

I confess that comfort, dryness and warmth are my main priorities and I tend to look pretty scruffy, wearing the same mud-spattered clothes week after week. There are those who look a lot worse but they do so in the summer, too.

But some golfers work hard on their appearance whatever the weather. One of my regular playing partners, Andy, is certainly in that category. He is a very natty dresser at any event and he sees no reason why he shouldn’t be sartorially suitable for winter golf as well.

We played together in a four-ball pairs Stableford last Saturday and I couldn’t help noticing the difference in our dress. Over my long-sleeved undergarment I had a frayed red polo-neck and a heavily stained sweater. My shoes hadn’t been cleaned for weeks and my corduroy trousers were covered in muddy marks where I had been cleaning my ball because I keep forgetting to put a towel on my bag.

Andy could have just stepped off a male models’ catwalk. A neatly arranged and expensive looking polo-neck under a cream sweater which looked like cashmere and a pair of pristine black trousers with a knife-edged crease.

Despite the course being still very wet, it was the first time in weeks that buggies were allowed and Andy agreed to share one to save my old legs.

The club has started to construct a network of cart-paths which is helping to stop buggies sliding all over the place but on our steep second hole I mistakenly left the path to get nearer the green.

When we got back in to go the third tee, the back wheels started spinning and the buggy was going nowhere. Andy got out to give it a push and I shouted at him to be careful of the mud being splashed back.

Too late. As the buggy lurched forward, the wheels cruelly spattered his trousers and when I reached the path I looked back to see him ruefully examining his ruined elegance.

Fortunately, he saw the funny side and joined in the laughter. I suggested it would all brush off when it dried. ‘Can you wash those?‘ I asked.

‘They’ve just been washed,’ he said. ’I only ironed them this morning’

His sweater had also collected some mud so he took that and donned a jerkin. I consoled him with the fact that he now looked more like the rest of us.

Together with the weather, which was glorious, it turned out to be the high spot of mundane morning.

I’d started well, scoring six points on the first two holes but I managed only 17 more on the next 16 holes. I hit enough decent shots to encourage me but I found it difficult to score.

Andy, who plays off 28 like me, did a little better, scoring 25 to my 23 for an aggregate 48 points.

Our playing partners, Max and Spencer, were five shots better at 53 but we were both miles behind the winning total of 76.

Due to the damp conditions there wasn’t much run on the ball but we were playing clean and place through the green and we all felt we should have done a lot better.

But at least we were out playing in the sun and spring can’t be far away. And Andy is not likely to ride in a buggy with me again.


Arwyn nearly
makes history

It’s always good to hear about politicians playing golf. It tends to humanise them a little, particularly if they are not much good at the game. But we weren’t prepared for the frank assessment of the golfing ability of Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond we heard in the clubhouse last Sunday.
You may well be puzzled how his name cropped up in a South Wales golf club but we were in the presence of Jim Borland, who recently moved down from the famous Scottish golfing town of Carnoustie to be near his two daughters who live in Penarth.
Jim’s accent is not easily decipherable but he was asking whether he’d be able to vote in the Scottish referendum and if not why not?
At the age of 81, he felt entitled to have a say in his homeland’s future but, I‘ve found out since, he can’t.
Jim was a long-term member at the fearsome Carnoustie links where he once played off ten. In fact, he said, he once played there with Alex Salmond.
‘What’s he like?’ we asked.
‘He’s a shit golfer’ said Jim.
Since that remark was made in the company of several golfers highly qualified to share that description, Mr Salmond mustn’t think we are getting at him but it is comforting to know that the Honourable Company of Shit Golfers has such a wide and varied membership.
The reason we were having a beer with Jim is that, in the winter league that morning, he and his partner, Roger Alban, had achieved a certain notoriety we were interested in hearing about.
Our winter league has a foursomes format in which each pair has to have a minimum combined handicap of 20 and the shot allowance is half the difference.
But if only one of a pair turns up he has to give full difference — a draconian rule, perhaps, but designed as a harsh punishment for non-attendance.
Jim, who is off 19, and Roger, who is off 24, were due to play Alan Davies and Steve Dorman. Steve has gone to Australia for a month and arranged for Arwyn Williams to sub for him.
Arwyn turned up at the appointed tee at the shot-gun start time of 9 am but Alan Davies, a former coach of the Welsh international rugby team was nowhere to be seen.
So he had to play Jim and Roger on his own. Arwyn plays off 12 and their combined is 43 so he had to give them 31 shots — that’s two shots on 13 holes and one on the rest.
Jim and Roger thought they’d be in the bar early but Arwyn didn’t seem to be thirsty and proceeded to play out of his skin. Arwyn used to be my bank manager and he gives bugger-all away and the boys found it very difficult to live with him.
So much so that he was three up with three to play. They had two shots on each of the remaining three holes and although Arwyn got a par on each of them they managed to get three bogeys/net birdies in a row to go all square.
The first sudden death hole was a par four and they had two shots on that one, as well. Arwyn was eight feet away for two but he missed the putt and got a par and Jim holed from three feet for another bogey/birdie.
It was nearly the best achievement in the annals of our winter league. There are vague memories of past individual excesses but no-one can remember anyone giving away that number of shots and winning.
Winter golf is hard but it does produce heroes.

Me and Porky
go down fighting

After weeks of frustration waiting for a break in the monsoon, we received a day sent straight from heaven on Sunday — clear blue skies, a bright sun and a bloody good game of golf.

Compared with what thousands of people have had to contend with during the floods we golfers have a cheek complaining about our lot but we don’t have much else to do.

As it happens, I probably wouldn’t have played if it wasn’t for the floods.

I’m not playing in the post-Christmas session of our winter league but I am available as a sub if anyone is desperate. Two weeks ago, Peter Edmunds, also known as Porky, asked me to sub for his partner, Simeon, who is Welsh Guardsman and was on duty that weekend.

I duly turned up only to find that Simeon was there. They didn’t need him after all but his message hadn’t reached Porky. Simeon wanted me to play instead of him but I want to keep our servicemen fit so he went out to play and I had a sausage sandwich and read the paper.

Last Friday, I had another call from Porky saying that Simeon was on emergency sandbag duty by the Thames and I was definitely needed this time.

So I turned up on a beautiful morning and was welcomed with open arms by Porky who, as I have mentioned before, plays off five and is real pot-hunter. Porky is unashamed in his desire for prizes and I am not usually found in the company of such zealots.

But, for once, I was happy to be a pot-hunter’s assistant though a little fearful of the damage I could cause his ambitions.

Unfortunately, we have shot-gun start and we were off the tenth hole which is almost a mile uphill from the clubhouse. I hadn’t played for a month and we had to carry our bags so by the time we got there I was panting like an old goat.

I could hardly breathe and since I was driving the evens, I had to swing into action immediately. The tenth is a long par three and, to my surprise, I landed my tee-shot just short of the green. Porky chipped to within four or five feet, I holed the putt for a par and we were one up.

The good start didn’t last long. We were up against Graham and Dave who for high handicappers, 19 and 22, play very well. We halved the next and then I shanked my approach shot on the third hole and in no time we were three down without doing much wrong.

It was very enjoyable game and the scoring was quite tight. I had another nasty shank which lost us another hole but we managed to get back to all square and then went one up. Our combined handicap was 33 and their’s was 42 so we had to give them five shots which told in the end.

As pleasurable as the day and the game was, the muddy ground was very heavy on the legs and I was feeling it. We were one up at the last, which is a long, uphill par five and thanks to a bit of tree trouble we couldn’t hold on to the lead and, therefore, had to play an extra sudden hole which was halved.

The second extra hole was a long par five which we halved in par. By this time, I was truly creamed-crackered and didn’t hit a very good drive on the third extra hole. It left Porky with a nasty approach over the trees but I still had a seven feet putt to keep us in the game. I missed it and we lost.

I commiserated with Porky and said that if it wasn’t for those floods Simeon would have been playing and it could have all been different. He was kind enough to say I played OK and bought me a pint as did Dave and Graham so it was a good day all round — even if the stiffness in my legs still makes every step an effort.

Jilted at
the first tee

It’s not only brides that get jilted — it can happen to golfers. There I was early last Sunday morning walking towards the clubhouse in the happiest of moods because not only was it not raining the sun was shining out of a clear blue sky — a rare event in these waterlogged days.

I’d been asked to be a substitute in the winter league for Simeon who is in the Welsh Guards and had to be on duty last weekend. I gladly accepted because I hadn’t had a game for a couple of weeks and my partner would be my old friend Porky.

He is still my friend despite my denouncing him as a pot-hunter in this space after the pre-Christmas session of the winter league. Porky, who is not at all fat but loves pork pies, plays off five and won the session with a partner hand-picked to play better than his handicap.

Usually, when you are choosing a partner for the winter league foursomes you go for one of your pals but the pot-hunters are far more selective and look for someone who is a bit of a bandit.

The club tries to keep the hot shots at bay by insisting on a minimum combined handicap of 20 so that the better players have to play with a higher handicapper but Porky and his ilk keep a constant eye open for likely talent.

Porky doesn’t deny being a pot-hunter. Why should he? He likes winning. He’s got a panel-beating business in the motor trade and after beating panels all week he likes nothing better than hammering a few golfers at the weekend.

His choice as partner this time, Simeon, plays a very steady game off 16 and is as young and fit as you’d expect a guardsman to be. Unfortunately, they have to go on guard sometimes hence Porky’s need for a replacement.

I’m not sure I would have been his first choice but on the Thursday evening he rang the captain to ask him to find a sub. As it happened, I happened to be drinking with the captain at the time and, impishly, he asked me if I fancied the job.

In no way am I pot-hunting material but I jumped at the chance. A couple of years ago I

was twice on the winning side in foursomes matches against Porky and he reckoned I was a jinx. This was my chance to do him a favour or, more likely, to make his life a misery.

Either way, it was going to be a laugh. Then, as I approached the crowd of golfers outside the club, the first person I saw was Simeon.

‘What the hell are you doing here,’ I said,’ I’m supposed to be subbing for you.’

He looked at me blankly and said that the duty roster had been changed and he had texted Porky in the week to say he could play after all.

Porky then turned up and stared at Simeon as if he was a ghost. He hadn’t received a text.

Simeon then said;’ Peter, you turned up so you should play.’ I refused, saying that he’d been soldiering all week, he needed to get out.

Porky said I should play instead of him. Don’t be daft, I said, you need to win. If I played and we lost, I’d never forgive myself.

So off they marched to their shot-gun start and I went into the club, had a sausage sandwich and read the paper.

In an hour or so, the sun went in, a big black cloud appeared and it started pouring down. It cheered me up immensely.