Hacker fights
against mockery

I’ve already broken my New Year resolution — which was not to make any New Year resolutions. For the past 15 years I have been publicly resolving to break 100 in a medal round and every year I have failed, sometimes narrowly but more often miserably.
It seemed the longer time went on without me achieving this not very difficult target the harder it became. In the end it grew to be an obsession and a self-defeating obsession at that.
I wasn’t playing disastrously in match-play and in many a medal I seemed to be on route to the 90s but then I would throw in a ten or worse.
It even affected some of my club-mates who never used to worry about the 100 mark but once it got into their minds it became a barrier to them, too.
Then the club created a tournament called The Centurions for all those who failed to break 100 in one or more of the monthly medals. Nearly 200 qualify every year.
It even effects the better players and many is the man who tears up his card if the ton starts to loom. We most hold the UK record for non-returns.
This time I decided to relieve myself of the ignominy by renouncing it as an ambition. If I forget about it, I figured, perhaps it will happen naturally.
But, as I reported last week, there came two events over Christmas in which I played abysmally and attracted the usually mockery and suggestions along the lines of ‘why don’t you give up the game and save yourself the heartache‘.
Even my own son went public on Twitter to ask why I bother to go on playing. Strangely, he gave me two dozen golf balls for Christmas so I am honour-bound to use them up first — which will take until February at least.
But hackers are well used to such advice from those who sneer and it is up to us if we choose to ignore it.
You don’t have to play golf well to be enraptured by it and the pleasure we derive from the game may come in meagre rations but you learn to make the most of what you get.
I haven’t always been a wretched 28 handicapper. I used to be a mediocre 19 handicapper but various forces, including a long attack of the chipping yips, combined to slide me down the slippery slope.
In common with most bad players, I suffer from an over-active optimism gland which secretes an abnormal amount of hope. I firmly believe I can improve and have decided, once again, to dedicate myself to breaking 100 in a medal once they re-start in the spring.
If for no-one else, I have to attempt it for the thousands who follow this website. I know from the reaction I receive that I bring them the comfort and solace that comes from knowing that, no matter how badly they play, they can rely on me being worse.
It helps their morale top know they are not suffering alone. Besides, what would happen to the game if we all packed it in? If it wasn’t for the lessons we take, the clubs we buy, the magazine tips we devour, the industry would suffer greatly.
And take away our annual subscriptions, green fees, sorrow-drowning at the bar and our clubs would feel the pinch, too.
No, our struggles are not in vain — we are an integral part of golf. The bottom of the pyramid, perhaps, but shift us at your peril.
Having re-stated this ambition to break the 100 barrier I have to acknowledge that a resolution is meaningless unless is backed by a determination to see it through.
Last year was not a good year because I missed most of it while recovering from a major operation. But I do feel that I emerged from it a better player because I swing more slowly and deliberately.
I’m also working on a tip which I describe elsewhere on this page and, even now, I am following a plan in which I practice everyday, even if it is only in the privacy of my own home.
I will explain more about that in the weeks ahead but, meanwhile, I have also acquired a new motto.
When I did my national service in the army over 50 years ago, I was in a unit called the Royal Army Service Corps which is now, I understand, called the Royal Logistics Corps in order to confuse the enemy.
The Latin motto of the RASC was ’Nil Sine Labore’ which we always thought meant ’No Sign of Work’. What it really meant was ’Nothing Without Effort’.
That is the slogan I shall take into 2013. No more Mr Nonchalance.

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against mockery

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