Although I have been a serious hacker for many years and fallen foul of numerous dark days on a golf course I have never reached the depths to which I descended last Saturday.
In the monthly medal I slunk back into the clubhouse with a card bearing the disgraceful total of 139.
That’s right — I was 69 over par. The nadir, the pits, rock-bottom…where do I go from here?
Needless to say, my fate caused much merriment about my fellow club members, especially the one who scored 129 and was expecting all the stick himself.
Not only did I record a personal worst, I was disqualified for not signing my card. A sensible man would not have gone down the club for a drink on Sunday lunchtime but, like most hackers, I‘m used to jibes and sneers and plenty came my way.
At least Leon, the match captain, was sympathetic. ’Why didn’t you sign your card?’ he asked. ’Were you too upset?.
One wag shouted:’ He probably ran out of ink.’
Hearty laughs all round. But I was given the credit for facing up to the cruel realities of my golfing life and putting in my card. As usual, there were about a dozen who neglected to put their cards in.
Players who made a non-return of their card, referred to as Nrs, sometimes have a good reason but it is usually because they are too ashamed of their score.
In fact, they found one non-returned card of a player who had scored even more than me on the front nine and picked up on the 15th. His playing partners said he would have been well over my score.
Then there was Lennie who came off the fifteenth green with a score of over 120 and was smacked on the chin by a ball hit by someone making an approach shot to that green.
Lennie was knocked sparked out with blood gushing from a gash that required a few stitches administered on the clubhouse verandah by a paramedic. I saw him the following day and he had a chin like Jimmy Hill with a vast bruise on it.
He said getting hit saved him from a score like mine. I said I’d prefer a 139 than look like him.
None of this explains how I came by this calamitous score. It wasn’t easy, believe me, and unravelled before me like a slow-motion replay.
It didn’t help that when arriving at the course I found I had left my golf shoes at home. It was too late to go back for them so I had to play in my street shoes.
Whether this was a major contribution to my downfall, I can’t say. But the root of my trouble was that I kept pulling my shots and on five occasions tugged my approaches into a green side bunker where each time I was under a lip and, after several attempts, had to play out sideways or backwards.
This problem led to scores of 13, 12, 11 and two tens. I won’t bore you with all the details but it is very difficult to maintain your mental and physical equilibrium when you stutter from disaster to disaster.
Of course, once I had come to the conclusion that my lack of spikes was the cause of my frequent pulling of the ball I tried to compensate by trying to guide the ball to the right which brought me into contact with a few leylandii trees, which I detest. I swear they follow me around like Macbeth.
But I missed the spikes most when I was playing the tenth which has a steep grassy bank on the left of the green. In accordance with the way the day was going, my ball ran off the green and stopped halfway down the bank.
The thick grass was still damp from the morning due and my shoes were the last thing on my mind as I clambered down to the ball. I managed to hit it and then my feet went from under me and I fell like a sack of spuds.
Ironically, after two of my friends broke their legs losing their footing on golf courses during the winter I’ve been delivering stern warnings in this space about not wearing metal spikes. And here was me not wearing spikes of any description.
Thankfully, all I collected was a sore elbow and a winding and I am not offering it as an excuse.
Since my disgrace, I have had a lesson and done some practice and am ready to face the demons again this weekend.
There is one footnote. Our match captain has taken to emailing us all with his complaints about our performance in a medal and this week was banging on about slow play. He said, in passing: ’Congratulations to Pete Corrigan who managed to hit the ball 139 times in four hours.’
I take that as a compliment. But it works out that I hit a shot every very 1.72 minutes. Do you think I’m going too quick?