Len, a hacker
to marvel at

Many hackers are noted not only for their erratic golf but also their eccentricities. One may well lead to the other but we needn’t delve too deeply into all that and, besides, top golfers can carry the odd quirk around with them, too.
But there’s something more endearing about a hacker with an individual approach to the game and usually a club’s main personalities are to be found clustered around the high handicap zone — the real characters who cheer the place up.
I hope to highlight some of the ways these special hackers brighten up our golfing lives and enable us to avoid the gloom that our golf can often drive us into.
Len May would be an excellent man to start with. Len is 83 and plays at Trevose golf club in Cornwall and I am indebted to his friend and playing companion Geoff French for telling us about him.
Geoff writes: ‘A good place to start would be his unusual dress sense For many years he was famous for a pair of luminous lime green shorts ( a colour which definitely does not exist in nature) which were purchased from the pro shop in a clearance sale,rumour has it they were on the ladies rail and were purchased unknowingly .During inclement weather he used to wear a lightweight parker with a hood as favoured by mod’s when riding motor scooters’.
The most intruiging part of Len’s game, says Geoff, is his driver which has a stiff shaft and a nine degree face and is hardly an implement you’d accociate with a 28 handcapper. He was 76 when he bought it and Geoff suggested he used it for putting.
But Len had a far better use for it — he takes it into the rough with him and is claimed to have become the world’s leading exponent of hitting a driver from the most severe lies. He uses the driver on the grounds that it is impossible to go underneath the ball and, in many cases, the ball goes further from the deep rough than his actual drive.
‘He decided that lead tape on his driver would be a good idea and surprised our pro by using 2 rolls of it instead of the conventional single strip,’ says Geoff.
Len is also unique on the greens. Many times he asks “can I finish it” to which the answer invariably is “that remains to be seen”. That is usually the cue for a three-putt from eight inches. He is, however, deadly on occasions from 20 yards.
‘He regularly posts the lowest score in our weekly stableford competition yet almost every year wins one round with a score of 43 points,’ adds Geoff. ‘On one occasion when I played with him, he was about 80 yards from the stone bridge that crosses a ditch on our 10th hole. He hit the ball which struck the end of the bridge and rebounded to within an eighth of an inch from where it had departed. Without changing position in any way, he hit it again and this time it went over the ditch!’
In his greatest moment, he chose the week the Trevose team won the county championship to have a hole in one. The result was that the local paper carried a large picture of Len on the back page with details of how a golfer aged 79 had a hole in one, while the club’s greatest triumph received a half paragraph on the same page.
The manner of his hole in one was a story in itself. He used his trusty driver on the 200 yard 16th and no-one saw it go in. They searched the rough for 20 minutes before someone thought of looking in the hole. By this time four groups had piled up on the tee and, with the chacteristic cheerfulness of golfers being held up, said: ‘Why didn’t the silly old fool look there in the first place?’
They probably didn’t say it too loudly because Len is an ex-paratrooper but, in any case, hackers learn not to expect too much from their shots.
Geoff didn’t elaborate on what IO gather is an interesting life off the course but, he says, ‘ I hope that is enough to give you a feel for the man and his expoits’.
Len had a minor stroke a few weeks but returned to action last week when, Geoff reports, he hit some amazing drives from the rough and finished with 19 points — this mean the 43 pointer is one round nearer.
Incidently, Geoff and his wife, Jessica, run a lovely 17th century guest-house in Padstow, www.molesworthmanor.co.uk He didn’t ask for a plug but he’s getting one in return for a lovely story.

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to marvel at

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