Having your name announced in front of 150 mocking men as the perpetrator of an air-shot is not the best way to mark your first game in the winter league but that was my fate last Sunday.
However, the shame was made bearable by the fact that we won the match and that my part in the victory was not inconsiderable. It couldn’t have been that good if I completely missed the ball, I hear you say, but it was a rare blip on a morning when most things went right.
There is no doubt that an air-shot is one of the most humiliating acts in golf but the term doesn’t always tell the story and on this occasion was untrue. My club didn’t fly through the air above the ball in the manner of most shots of that description. It didn’t get that far. It clunked into the ground three inches behind the ball.
It wasn’t the easiest of shots. My partner’s approach to the ninth green looked to be rolling into the greenside bunker but when we got there it had stopped about 18 inches away from the sand on the downward slope.
It would have been easier had it been in the bunker. As it was, it was a bare lie and the two-feet high lip of the bunker was only five feet away.
I used to have the chipping yips but my play around the green is much improved recently. But put a bunker between me and the flag and my wrists turn to jelly.
I concentrated so hard as I placed my lob wedge behind the ball but I flapped hopelessly at it and the blade thudded into the ground.
Thankfully, my partner Steve is made of sterner stuff and he calmly plonked it onto the green and we managed to salvage a half.
There’s no sentiment in our winter league and Steve duly took a note of the time and informed the chief Snake who in his lunchtime piss-take of the morning’s proceedings announced: ‘There was only one air-shot today — Peter Corrigan, 11.09 on the ninth.’
I welcomed the catcalls with a shrug and pointed to the board which showed that my partner, Dave Ellis, and I had won two out of two.
Considering we haven’t played together yet it is a worthy achievement. I was away the first Sunday and Dave was away last Sunday. On both occasions Steve Nicholls was our substitute and he is a very steady 15 handicapper.
He also has a buggy so I didn’t have to trudge the half-mile to the 16th tee for the shot-gun start unlike our opponents who were Bill Gill, off 19, and Steve Greenslade, off 14. They had to give us five shots, the first of which helped us to win the 16th.
But it soon developed into a close game and I was pleasantly surprised how well I played. That is the beauty of foursomes golf for a hacker. If you have a steady partner, you need hit only about 10 or 15 decent shots at the right times and you can make a telling contribution and the number of strokes you receive can come in very handy.
We made all our shot holes count and, even allowing for the air-shot, we gradually pulled ahead.
Bill, a retired solicitor, is a big hitter off 19 and Steve, who moves large amounts of meat around the world without leaving his computer, is a solid 14 handicapper but we kept our noses in front.
We were three up with three to play and they hit back to reduce our lead to two. The next hole was the 180 yard par three 14th and I managed to stick my tee-shot on the green which led us to a 3-1 win.
Unfortunately, the 14th green is the furthest point from the clubhouse, is the best part of a mile walk and by this time it was pouring with rain.
We shook hands, thanked them for a very enjoyable game and sped back to the clubhouse while they walked. We finished our first pint before they got there. Golf can be a very cruel game, sometimes.