Walker Cup hero avoids the Hacker

Nigel Edwards, Walker Cup hero and one of the finest amateur golfers of recent times, had a narrow escape last Wednesday — he nearly had to play with me. We were guests at Radyr golf club north of Cardiff where a mutual friend, Ron Jones, has just become captain.
Ron is a renowned sports broadcaster who spent 32 years with the BBC and as a freelance still smoothly utters descriptive words for several radio stations.
And for his first social event at the club he staged a sports forum to which he invited rugby legend Jonathan Davies, the aforementioned Nigel, Ian Walsh, former Crystal Palace and Welsh international striker, and me.
You might ask what I was doing in such company. Well, I do occasionally get invited to these events in the hope that after 60 years as a sport journalist I might have gained some profound insight into it all.
When that hope is discovered to be futile, I can still serve a purpose because whatever sporting controversy is debated they usually end up blaming the media and I’m there to take the flack.
We accepted Ron’s offer of a game of golf beforehand — apart from Jonathan who offered the spurious excuse that he’d been delayed by fog when returning from at the golf/cricket in Abu Dhabi — and I was looking forward to playing with our current Walker Cup captain.
Alas, Ron appeared anxious to protect Nigel from embarrassment and he sent him out with Ian, who plays off six, Gareth Jones, Radyr’s club manager, who plays off five and Welsh broadcaster Huw Llewellyn Davies who plays off 12.
I partnered Ron, a ten handicapper, against Radyr’s immediate past captain, Ralph Vaughan, a consultant anaesthetist, and Terry Fitzgerald, another medical man. They both play off 23 — at least they will do until the handicap committee get my letter.
They were three up in no time. Terry, especially, was driving the ball straight and true, Ralph was steadiness itself and they dovetailed well. Ron was giving them ten shots apiece and found it hard to match their better ball.
Despite the cold it was so sunny and the air so clear that the panoramic views across Cardiff were superb and turned out to be so inspirational that we crept back in to the game and, mainly thanks to Ron, by the 14th we had reduced the arrears to one.
Then Ralph produced a flask from which he poured for us four generous beakers of a dark, steaming brew in which I thought I recognised traces of coffee.
I was too grateful for its warming qualities to question what else was in it but whatever it was seemed to attack my central nervous system.
Two minutes later, on the 14th tee, I dug my club into the frozen ground a foot behind the ball. Technically an air-shot but it didn’t half hurt.
On that hole and the one after, I was hitting the ball over the place. Ron steadied me down a little but our opponents remained on top and won two and one.
In the other game Nigel, off plus three, had to give a load of shots and he and Ian were two down after 12. But, as Nigel explained, in match-play you are ‘jousting’ for the first 12 holes and then you get down to business. He and Ian proceeded to birdie the next five holes for the match.
Over 100 members turned up for the sports forum by which time Jonathan Davies was with us. He has a fund of stories from his playing days in rugby union and league, likewise Ian from football and Nigel’s memories of playing Walker Cup golf with Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald were fascination. I just concentrated on urging them all to follow the Hacker on this website.
It was a very enjoyable evening all round and was expertly handled by Huw as chairman.
Nigel, who has been made an honorary member at Royal Porthcawl suggested we have a game there one day. I jumped at the chance but reminded him that he’d have to give me 31 shots. I would have preferred it had he looked more worried.

5 thoughts on “Walker Cup hero avoids the Hacker

  1. I was sorry that I would not be able to get my Corrifix on Sundays it was comforting to read of someone who, despite everything kept soldiering on.Having found you again is a happy experience.To a large extent it mirrors my attempts to recover a handicap that was once respectable but is now pathetic! Keep up the good work. Bob M.

  2. Gratitude to the former Ireland international rugby ace Neil Francis for telling this story…….

    THIS balding, middle-aged salad dodger is hacking his way around a rural golf course. Precariously perched on a greenside hillock, his wooden swing precipitates a shift in balance and he falls into the ditch. His body connects with a hidden lamp and suddenly — whoosh — a genie appears.

    “You know the drill about releasing genies from the lamp at this stage,” says the genie, “but in this instance I can only give you two choices. I can turn you into the greatest golfer in the world or the greatest lover.”

    After some deliberation, the man says, “the greatest golfer please.” The genie is surprised and says, “are you sure?” “Certain,” says your man. ALACASAM.

    A few weeks later, the genie, enjoying his freedom, turns up on the golf course to check out how his subject is getting on. Your man hits a doozie 330 metres off the tee with a little bit of fade and has a lob wedge in his hand as he strides purposefully ahead to address his ball. “Great shot,” says the genie. “Thanks,” says your man.

    “Do you mind if I ask you something?” enquires the genie. “Shoot,” replies your man. “Ninety nine point nine per cent of men would have gone for the ‘greatest lover’ option. Just looking at you, I’m very surprised; would you be able to tell me how many times you made love last year?” “About five or six times,” your man answers.

    “That’s not a great average now is it?” asks the genie.

    “No! It’s not, but it’s not bad for the parish priest in a small village.”

  3. Great to be able to continue to follow your golfing progress.
    Too many of my Indie favourite columnists have bitten the dust lately (Viner, Ingrams, Dixon) and now the Hacker.
    Keep at it, we must get better soon surely?

  4. I stumbled across your writings after reading Derek Lawrenson’s tribute to you in the DM. I delved into your website and was captivated by the subject matter, the style and the sentiments. So much so that I wondered if, from time to time, I could print the occasional article in our Pavenham Park Seniors’ InPutt newsletter, of which I am the editor. I would like to start off with your “Why hackers are unique in sport”.
    Would you be good enough to give me permission to print the occasional article? If this is OK, how would you like me to write up the acknowledgement?
    If you would like a copy of the next modest edition of InPutt, appearing in March, I would be pleased to send it to you.
    John Salter

  5. Have followed your column every week and together with Dave Hadfield’s rugby league it is the main reason for the choice of paper. I always cut out the column to take to my playing
    partner to swap for the gardening section of the Telegraph for my wife, saving money in true Yorkshire fashion. Now you are on line what can I swap?
    An excellent read as usual, keep up the good work.

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