I don’t know what a violin-playing frog has to do with being a bad golfer but I have a very handsome statue of one on my mantle-piece — the latest addition to my pathetically sparse collection of golfing trophies.
It was gained at the annual Chips and Crisps golf day and supper at which we celebrate the Wednesday and Thursday swindles. About 50 took part and a good day it was. There seemed to be prizes for everyone. Mine, of course, was at the bottom of the list.
With only 17 points I didn’t expect much sympathy but it was a pleasant experience, nonetheless.
We hackers usually moan about the amount of derision we receive but we are sometimes treated with touching sensitivity. The ghastly term ’Booby prize’ is generally affixed to the award received by the poorest performer in various sports but in golf the words ‘Best Endeavour’ are often used — a far kinder title for the disgrace.
Slightly mocking it may be but it is as if they recognise that scoring the worst total can require a lot more effort that bringing home a more respectable score, which in many ways is true. Anyone who thinks that playing golf badly is easy has never had to undergo the torment.
And the frog is way above the usual tawdry reward a hacker gets and I shall treasure it as a very artistic appreciation of my labours. If only they had left it at that.
The other part of my Best Endeavour prize was less than subtle; a packet of tees called ‘Nuddie Tees’. These are utterly tasteless and take the form of a naked lady with a flat head and a pair of legs intended to go into the ground for the teeing-off process. If they think I’m going to put my balls on them they have another think coming.
I had been drawn with Nick Crofts as my partner which was not good news for him because there are prizes for the highest pairs as well as individuals so that was one prize he was out of before the start.
This also applied to Jeff Osborne, another decent player, because he was drawn with Mike Hennessy who, like me, has had a debilitating year. He has a shoulder problem and faces an operation later this month.
At least, Mike and I were able to share a buggie so if they wanted to moan about us we were usually well out of earshot. Not they would, of course, being patient and forgiving men.
Mike was managing to do better than me but he was suffering so much he called it a day after the eighth. Strangely enough, I started hitting the ball better on the back nine but I couldn’t make sense of the greens and 17 points was the miserable outcome.
But the Chips and Crisps are an enjoyable and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The day for notable for another event — it turned out that it was my last round in a buggie. I’d been hiring one since I began chemo treatment back in March.
It tires you out a bit so I’ve been needing wheels to get around but I was determined to get back walking. Trouble was, I needed to be sure I could complete the round but the winter league forced me to find out the hard way.
I’m afraid things haven’t been going too well in the league. My partner, Dave, and I lost our first three matches thanks to my inconsistency. While I bring the blessing of 28 shots to the partnership I also bring many other things, like shanks and air-shots.
We did manage to win the fourth match against Derek and Ian. Derek only took up the game at the beginning of the year but he is sticking manfully to the task. Unfortunately, he made more mistakes than me.
The following week we came up against Paul Brown and Ged Donovan and ran into a whirlwind. Paul, who is off 15, hit some tremendous approach shots, while Ged, off 22, also got into the act and as well as Dave played — and me, sometimes — they beat us 3 and 2.
I had occasion during the game to question Paul’s handicap and threatened to report him to the handicap committee. It turns out that he’s on the handicap committee. But it was all good natured and I was in a good mood because the ground was too wet to allow buggies so I had to walk the course and only rarely was I puffing like an old goat.
Last week we encountered Bob Bubbins and Kevin Parry who, like us, had won only one out of five which I was surprised at because they should be a solid pair.
On the first tee I asked Bob how they had lost four out of five. He pointed at Kevin and said:’ He’s playing crap.’
That’s what winter league golf is like, it tends to be the coarser end of the game. Needless to say, Kevin played nothing like crap and we found ourselves fighting for our lives again.
I was driving the evens with Bob and he was hitting it miles past me. But it was all good fun on a lovely morning and I didn’t play too badly with just the odd atrocity.
I think we did very well to take them to the 17th and afterwards we had a good laugh and a drink and my son had to come and pick me up. And I walked the course again and felt great — which means I can’t make any more excuses about being an invalid.