One of my fellow hackers at The Glamorganshire astounded the entire club last weekend when he won one of our major competitions with a record score of nett 62.
For a 28 handicapper who, at the age of 67, has been playing golf for only 13 years it was an amazing achievement and an inspiration to hackers everywhere — particularly me.
Roger Alban, like me, has been trying to break 100 for years and after scoring 111 in the monthly medal the previous week was not holding out much hope in the hotly contested Barbarian Cup.
And when he took an eight at the third he thought he was on the familiar road to a score well over the century mark.
But, although he didn’t feel he was playing particularly well tee-to-green, he was putting like a demon and although, out of habit, he didn’t keep a close eye on his score he felt a sub-100 might be in sight.
When he got to the par three 18, which is 190 yards, he decided not to risk his driver, the club he would normally take, and hit an iron straight but short of the green. He took a four and asked Chris, who was marking his card: ’ Did I break 100?’
He could hardly believe it when Chris said he’d scored 90 which meant his nett score was 62 and he was the clear winner of the prestige silver Cup presented to the club in 1924 by the Barbarians rugby side who played at the club during their Easter tour of south Wales each year from 1901 to the mid 1980s.
Modest as ever, I may have made a small contribution to his success. The Barbarian Cup always carried an 18 handicap limit and when CONGU introduced the full handicap allowance for competitive golf a few years ago some of the club, ie the low handicappers, said that tradition demanded we should retain the 18 limit.
I led the fight for the full allowance and the club eventually agreed. Inevitably, there have been mutterings about such a high handicapper winning it but why not?
There is no way he is a bandit. Indeed, he went out on Wednesday and played, he says, his ’usual rubbish’.
His success was mainly due to putting. He rattled them in from all over the greens, from 30 feet and longer. It seemed every time he swung his putter the ball went down.
Incredibly, his round didn’t contain one birdie. He just played steadily and holed most of the putts. Let that be a lesson to us all.
Being a hacker involves much merriment and derision when you have one of your worse days, which for many of us is quite often, so what is wrong when the odd bit of glory comes your way?
Before he played his first medal round in the year 2000, having just taken up the game, a friend gave him a Nick Faldo training video to study.
He watched it three times and went out to score a 147 — which is another club record. Everyone thought that was hilarious but a begrudging few were unable to credit the progress he had to made to knock 57 shots of his first ever score to take a top prize.
Roger, a retired chartered electrical engineer, is not expecting a rush of trophies, especially as he‘s been dropped to 24.
‘If I drove my car like I play golf, the police would have a moral obligation to lock me up,’ he says.
One aspect of his victory that didn’t please him was the first prize he collected of £70. Not having received prize-money before he thought that was a ridiculously high sum.
’There was a time when the prize money was divided up between the three categories which is much fairer. With cash like that available no wonder they don’t like high-handicappers winning,’ says Roger.