Even if I say so myself, it was a transformation in the ugly duckling class. Two Saturdays ago, I scored a lifetime worst 139 in the monthly medal. Last Saturday, I scored a 95 in a four-ball better-ball competition — a staggering 44 shots fewer.
Admittedly, you can’t compare a medal with a better-ball but they were both off the back boxes and under competitive conditions and, at the very least, restored my shattered morale.
And I’m not claiming a world record, although in my pathetic little world it is. A minor miracle it must and has flabbergasted those who either fell about in fits of laughter or serious suggested I should pack the game in.
That notorious number of 139 reverberated not only around the club but around the town as well. It was shouted across the road in the shopping centre and was repeated so often in Tesco’s people thought it was a special offer.
It was still being yelled from adjacent fairways as I played last Saturday. I gave them a cheery wave with all my fingers because I knew the nightmare was over, at least temporarily.
This dramatic change in my fortunate came about was due to a mixture of a lesson, a bit of practice, a new ball — and a week of simmering shame.
I didn’t have the lesson at the club because that would have led only to more ribaldry so I went to John Hastings, who runs the Natural Golf school at the St Andrews Major club near Cardiff.
Among the tips he gave me concerned my turn which I wasn’t completing properly. He said I should concentrate on finishing with my hands high and my chest facing the target.
I did some practice stints with the wedge because I’d been standing too far away at the address. Then, some balls arrived in the post from Callaway who suggested I them out.
The next thing I should have ensured was to go to bed early and sober on Friday night. Unfortunately, it was the past-captains’ dinner, a lively and robust event in which there is a full and frank exchange of views, and it was the early hours before I retired.
A 9.20 am start, therefore, was not welcome and I was much less than confident of avoiding another debacle.
I was with Max, one of my long-suffering regular partners, and we were accompanied by David Cooper and Mike Hooper, neither of who I had played with before.
I scored the usual seven at the first which certainly didn’t prepare me for what was to come — I scored 13 points in five holes.
The ball was going straighter and longer. Around and on the green I performed well above my usual game. David and Mike kept asking how I’d managed to score that 139 the previous week.
Max said he’d never seen me play better and we finished the front nine with 19 points which is by no means a regular occurrence.
The second half was not as good but we still came in with over 30 points or we would have had we been playing the right competition. Max and David had been marking it as a better-ball Stableford when, in fact, it was a better-ball medal.
Had we put down our gross score on the blob holes, we only had one, our cards would have been acceptable. But didn’t so both pairs were disqualified.
But studying the card afterwards I totted up that I scored 95. I’m fully aware it doesn’t count because it wasn’t a medal but I’ve been waiting over 12 years to break 100 and it will bloody well do for me.
As for the ball, it is difficult to estimate the contribution the ball but it certainly helped. Strangely, I was in Florida with the family in March and on the final day of the Doral Open I was with my grandson Paddy, aged five, beside the 12th green.
We watched several players go through and after Jim Furyk finished putting and was on his way to the next tee he tossed his ball to Paddy who was delighted. Unfortunately, he refused to give it to me but it was a Callaway Hex Black.
The balls I received were Hex Chrome, a similar ball but aimed at those players with a mid to slow swing speed. My swing speed depends on how annoyed I am at the time, so I’m not sure which category I’m in but I’m very impressed.
When I played with John Dodd at Royal Porthcawl on Wednesday I made the mistake of giving him one to try. He wiped the floor with me and was delighted not only with the ball but with the fact that he’d finished with the same ball he started with — not a regular occurrence at Porthcawl.
I shall certainly use it over this Bank Holiday weekend. When I shall be hoping that what I’ve experienced is not a flash in the pan.