It was more like the Texas Chain-Saw Massacre than a Texas Scramble. Four knackered old hackers, denied the use of buggies, sent out first onto a boggy course on a cold and windswept morning — and we were docked four shots before we’d started. It was a recipe for a slow, disastrous round — for which we collected a heap of abuse for holding up the rest of the field.
And we had been so looking forward to our return to competitive action. Mike had been out for a year because of a shoulder operation, Roger had only recently returned from a similar op that had kept him out for even longer, Max hadn’t played 18 holes for ages and I hadn’t played since Christmas when I won a statue of a frog as a booby prize.
Since we also suffer from a combined age of 296, we felt a couple of buggies were essential to help us get round.
Imagine our dismay on the morning of the comp when buggies were banned because of the wetness of the course. We weren’t sure our legs would get the distance unaided. Luckily, powered trolleys were allowed, otherwise we wouldn’t have bothered.
Being first out at 8.10 wasn’t a great idea but was the only slot available when we got to the head of the queue to put our names down.
As if we hadn’t had enough bad news on a miserable morning, we then learned that there was a combined handicap limit of 60. Roger and I play off 28, Mike off 24 and Max is 22. That’s a total of 102.
Texas Scramble not being an officially recognised competition, rules differ from club to club. At ours the handicap allowance is ten per cent so we worked out we had 10.2 shots coming. Then we heard about the 60 limit they’d dragged up from somewhere and, for reasons I will go into elsewhere, we were even less happy than we had been hitherto.
For anyone not familiar with Texas Scrambles, each of the four takes a drive as usual, you pick the best one and everyone takes the next shot from there, and so on.
It’s largely a fun competition, but there are those who begrudge hackers any enjoyment. Apart from slapping a handicap limit on them there is another of our Scramble rules that causes some anguish.
Obviously, you can’t have a situation in which a group containing one ace driver can benefit from taking all his tee shots. Every member has to play his part and for each to have to contribute three tee-shots is fair, and it causes some extra excitement if one or two are not driving particularly well.
But we need each player to contribute four and for some hackers the provision of four half-decent tee-shots is a week’s ration not one round’s.
There’s nothing more dispiriting before a round than to feel you are beaten before you start and when we dropped three shots on the first three holes our hopes were as leaden as the skies.
But we also felt the pace and by the sixth the four behind were hard on our heels. We also noticed that they were reaching the far fours in two while we taking three at best.
We resolved to let them through when we reached the refreshment cabin behind the 8th green where we found to our dismay that they didn’t have any Clark’s pies. But they had sausage rolls and we were chomping into them when we noticed the group behind went straight to the ninth tee.
They’d decided that getting in front of us was worth the sacrifice of their halfway refreshments. We were going to let them through anyway but a cheerie request would have been welcome. Happily, one of their number apologised the following day.
As for us, we soldiered on with ever-weakening legs before sinking gratefully into seats in the bar. Our next big effort was getting to our feet to go home.
We had a scored a gross 82 which was a nett 76. This was 23.4 shots behind the winners. Good job they slapped that limit on us, otherwise we would be within 19.2 of them which, we have to agree, is far too close for comfort.
It was a couple of days before the acute stiffness began to creep out of our legs but as the season progresses we will get quicker. Meanwhile we will hire buggies to speed our progress around the course..
If buggies aren’t available we’ll have to decide whether it is worth risking the wrath of the more nimble and able bodied.