A sportsman from the tip of my balding head to the soles of my ageing feet, it isn?t in my nature to moan, gripe or whinge but what?s the point of having a privileged opportunity like this to bang on about anything if you don?t take advantage of it?
Anyway, there I was on one of the top five courses in Hungary (okay, I know, there are only five full-sized courses in Hungary) battling it out for Britain in a nine-hole international competition against other gritty golf journalists from around the world. Playing off 14, I toiled in the heat, holed gutsy putts for bogey and grafted my way round the rather quirky course at the Old Lake Golf and Country Club. Never one to quit, I bravely got up and down in four at the last to amass what I secretly suspected might be a winning total of 17 points.
Only really worrying whether or not to put the two-foot high trophy in my main suitcase or carry it with my hand luggage, I gobbled the goulash and mentally sprinkled my winner?s speech with fulsome tributes to both the greenkeeper and the President of Hungary for their part in my triumph.
Damian Macpherson, an extremely affable Englishman who quit tournament golf in the mid-90s and is now the head pro at Old Lake, rose to his feet to announce the top six in reverse order. Down came the hammer blow that crushed my dream. ?Runner up? Clive Agran.? I smiled weakly with all the conviction of a fluffed chip.
A guy who works on a Dutch golf magazine beamed broadly as he lifted the trophy that I had earmarked for the top shelf in my study. In his presentation speech, Damian selected the par four seventh as a crucial turning point. The Dutchman birdied it (well done) for a nett zero. What???? Apparently, he was receiving three shots on that hole.
His handicap of 36 (sic!) doubtless plucked off the top of a windmill or from a field of gently swaying tulips had, thanks to the slope system, presented him with more strokes than you would ordinarily witness in the first couple of minutes of the Boat Race, whereas my modest 14 was immutable.
An alleged 36 handicapper should struggle to finish a hole let alone register a birdie nett double albatross or whatever the hell it was. Rather than travelling up to Carnoustie for The Open, I?m tempted to hop over to Holland, look in on Amsterdam?s notorious green light district and get fitted with a brand new handicap. Anything in the 30s should suit. Ah well.