I missed a 16 inch putt on Sunday to lose our Winter League match. I can hear you ask ‘what miserable sod didn’t give you a putt of that length?’
Well, I don’t blame our opponents. We were on the first sudden-death hole and we were both close to the hole for four. They were about 18 inches away and we were a couple of inches closer.
As I hadn’t reached the green, it was therefore up to my partner, Dave, to suggest a half. He didn’t and they slotted their’s home. Because the match depended on it, I was then obliged to putt ours — and it lipped out.
I wasn’t happy and had to survive some serious mockery. What made it worse was that we’d been three up with seven to play and to lose on the first extra hole made it the second time that precise fate has befallen us in successive matches. It puts us in the same class as the Welsh rugby team.
In fact, it was drowning my sorrows in my local pub, The Railway, after Wales’s last-second defeat by the Aussies on Saturday that I sowed the seeds of our defeat.
I happened to bump into Nigel Swain, who was one of the pair we were playing the following morning. Nigel, a builder, hasn’t been playing the game for long but has got his handicap down to 20. A big chap, he hits the ball an impressive distance but hasn’t yet mastered its destination.
I mentioned this in a jocular fashion and you can guess what happened. Nigel never missed the middle of the fairway much to my consternation and much to the pleasure of his partner, Tim Raikes, who has done his share of rooting about in the trees.
Nigel said afterwards that my mickey-taking had motivated him. I wish I could motivate myself like that but we had a very enjoyable game on a frosty morning.
Luckily, the sun came out to soften the course up a little but the greens in the shadows of the trees stayed hard which didn’t make it easy.
They gave us six shots which helped. Foursomes golf is not easy when you’re taking your tee shots alongside a big hitter. I was driving with Tim, who plays off ten, and not for the first time this session I was struggling to get within 80 yards of him.
Fortunately, I was keeping them fairly straight and Dave was doing sterling work with his three-wood so we were competitive in a game that rarely strayed over par.
Our shots were helping and we sneaked ahead and with seven holes to go were three up. Then the wheels came off. Helped by a few colossal drives from Nigel, they won three of the next four holes and then birdied the next to go one up with two to play.
We halved the next and then won the last to send us down the first extra hole where I missed what would have been a gimme in most other circumstances.
But there was another slant to my miss. We have a shot-gun start from allocated holes and our starting point was the eighth. The ninth is a long, uphill par five which runs away from the clubhouse and, hence, the bar.
We had already decided that we’d had a long morning and didn’t fancy heading off into the country so if we halved we would toss up for the victory. All my miss did was save the toss. It was suggested later that I missed on purpose. I would never do that but I do comfort myself with the likelihood that we would have lost the toss.
Having won two matches we can’t win the wooden spoon but we can influence who gets it. Next Sunday is the final match and we are playing Mike Hennessy and Maurice Flynn who have won only once.
There are another pair who haven’t won at all but if they win their final match and we beat Mike and Maurice it will touch and go who gets the dreaded spoon. There’s a lot at stake and, so far, there has been no approach to bribe us. There’s still time.