Scored a career-worst 142 in the Bank Holiday medal. The fact that I still won a fiver in no way dilutes the disgrace of such an abysmal performance.
If I hired a top QC to put in a plea of mitigation on my behalf, I have no doubt he would make much of the fact that I hadn’t played for five weeks and that in the previous four months had been hampered by dollops of chemo and radio therapy.
But I refuse to hide behind lame excuses. However, I will point out that, despite it being a fine day, most people found the course playing harder than usual.
The standard scratch was 73 and only three golfers out of 200-odd broke 80. Even my friend Porky, who plays off a steady five handicap, came in with 89 and a stunned expression on his face.
There were over 35 nrs (no returns) which is a sure indication that some would prefer to pick-up than to hand in a card they would find embarrassing.
Not me. I believe in honesty, in facing up to my limitations and ploughing on to the bitter end — and I‘ve never had one more bitter than 142.
Part of the problem was the greens which were not only a bit on the rapid side, but some of the pin positions made it extra difficult.
You could putt from three feet and if you missed the hole the ball would roll 12 feet past or even off the green.
I managed to four putt the first for an eight. On the second, my putt for a par scraped the edge of the hole and then ran ten feet past. My next stopped a fraction short and rolled back to my feet — another four putts.
My two playing partners couldn’t have been more sympathetic. But I don’t think they realised how long that sympathy was going have to last.
Wayne Strong plays off six and Tony Warrilow is off 12 and are sufficiently acquainted with my struggles not to be shocked at such a gargantuan score. Although they were surprised that one man could encounter so much misfortune during one round.
One of the players I normally play with in medals is Andy Ferrier, a 28 handicapper of similar wretchedness to me. Andy was playing in the trio immediately behind us and on the first tee he suddenly demanded that we have fiver bet on our cards.
I readily agreed but was beginning to regret it when my scores started to multiply. Tony was marking my card and was grateful for his career in finance as he struggled to keep count of my adventures.
As we approached the half-way house on the ninth tee, I was aware than my score was already well over 60 and I wondered if I should carry on.
They were both playing very steadily and my travails must have been a distraction. I would have already lost my fiver bet so I made a vague suggestion that I should end my struggles and leave them in peace.
But they seemed resigned to their fate so I decided to carry on in the hope that my game would gather strength on the back nine.
Sadly, it didn’t. I managed a couple of half decent holes but I also managed to find a variety of bunkers from which I found it difficult to escape.
By the time we reached the 17th I knew I was heading for my personal worst. But my companions were still going well. Tony, especially, was looking as if he could feature. But his approach to the par four 17th found a greenside bunker. His shot from the sand came out like a rocket. I was in the bunker on the opposite side of the green and it flew over my head and into the trees next to the boundary fence. I found the ball but I didn’t do him any favours. He would have been better off not finding it.
It was only just playable and he ended with an 11. ‘It’s a frustrating game, isn’t it,’ he said. I considered that to be a mild reaction after all the effing and blinding I’d be doing all morning but I couldn’t disagree with him.
When we got to the clubhouse and totted up the scores, I waited for Ferrier to come in and claim his fiver.
‘How many did you score,?’ he asked. I told him and reached for my back pocket. But he produced a fiver. ‘Well done,’ he said. ‘I nrd on the fourth after starting 6,8,12.’
‘I should have stayed with it, shouldn’t I?’
No matter how bad things are, you should always stay with it. A lesson for us all.