Hackers of the world unite, we’ve nothing to lose but our balls

The art of striking a golf ball in the correct direction has made billionaires of some and buffoons of millions of others.
This website is dedicated to the buffoons, the much-derided majority of golfers who struggle manfully, and womanfully, to master a game to which they are not ideally suited.
Despite their shortcomings, those who are dismissed as hackers have as much right to play as anyone. As long as they reach a standard sufficient to prevent them causing wholesale damage to golf courses they should be respected for their eager if rustic contribution to the game.
For many years, Peter Corrigan has championed their cause in the Hacker column in the sports pages of the Independent on Sunday and as a 28 handicapper playing regularly, at least twice a week in summer and winter both here and abroad, he has experienced at first hand the demoralising disasters than can befall the less-gifted golfers.
His honest and frank admissions of his failings has reassured many a fellow hacker that they are not alone in their misery. Some have written in to say that they were on the point of giving the game up until they read of Corrigan’s weekly woes.
‘To realise that a player even worse than me was still battling on gave me fresh stimulation to keep going..’ is a typical response.
The Hacker column did not preach about doing more practice, taking more lessons or buying better clubs — there’s plenty of game-improvement advice available elsewhere.
Hackers don’t need hectoring, just sympathy for their plight and a knowledge that however dark the rough looks they’ll never walk through it alone.
Not that Corrigan thinks they should be complacent or satisfied with their lowly lot. Every golfer has a duty to try to improve but shouldn’t be condemned if they find it difficult.
And they should have a target. In Corrigan’s case it is to break 100 in a monthly medal which he hasn’t done for at least ten years. In many ways, it has been a self-defeating target.
The longer he goes without scoring less than that magic number — and some of his attempts last year were pathetic — the more pressure he is put under.
It remains his goal and this year he intends to achieve it. The story of his attempts will certainly not be the dullest you’ll read because the funniest things happen to him.
One positive, and serious, aspect of his column was to urge hackers to ensure that they received the full benefit of their handicaps in competitions.
Golf’s handicapping system is renowned as the best in sport, enabling the worst to play against the best on equal terms. It still favours the better players but least the hacker has a sporting chance.
For decades, however, the poorer player received only three-quarters of the difference between the two handicaps.
No-one knows where that figure came from but four years ago it was officially declared unfair by CONGU, the body that represents the home golf unions. They issued a directive that the full difference had to be given to the underdogs.
The better players protested but the move hasn’t led to widespread hacker triumphs. Indeed, CONGU say that scientific studies of club results on both side of the Atlantic reveal that the fairest allowance would be one and a quarter times the difference.
That’ll never happen but at many clubs high handicappers are still not getting a square deal in all competitions.
Corrigan will continue to press for hackers to get a fair deal.
Hence his slogan — ’Hackers of the world unite, we’ve nothing to lose but our balls.’

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