Last weekend I endured one of the most traumatic golfing ordeals I’ve ever been through. I’m still suffering its effects so I thought it might be cathartic to write about the nightmare.
I was selected to play for Banchory in the Journal Cup at Ballater – It’s the North East District team championship and the qualifying event for the North East matchplay title. It’s just three-man teams so I was pleased to have been picked. The event is 36-holes of medal play with all six scores counting to the total. On paper, our squad looked strong – three one handicappers, all of us playing pretty well.
After one round the form-book looked correct as Adam and I returned level par rounds and Lee was one-under. We held the halfway lead. I felt pretty confident going out after lunch, but I was blissfully unaware of what was to befall me.
I hit a solid tee shot down the left wing from the par-5 first tee, but when I got up to it I realised it had hit a mound in the semi rough and was basically stymied right at the base of its steep slope. I had no option but to try and blast out with a sand wedge. Even that wasn’t enough to get it up in time though and the ball just drove against the lump and stopped dead. Hack out number two was successful and my fourth shot found the green. My par effort lipped out.
I was rattled and things didn’t improve as I made back-to-back doubles on the third and fourth. At this point I began to panic. I knew that my score had to count and also knew that the boys behind were highly unlikely to be having similar issues.
Mentally, I went into meltdown. Every element of my game began to suffer – drives became increasingly wayward, iron-shots lacked conviction and I can’t even describe the agonies I was suffering around the greens.
I don’t think I would have lost it to such an extent had it not been a team competition. I could have (just about) handled a bad round individually, but I was about to let down two of my friends who were giving it their best shot. I just wanted to go and hide in the nearest pot bunker and wait for everyone to go home. Unfortunately, I had to finish.
I crawled in on my hands and knees, shaking and sweating with a round of 11-over-par. Our final team total?… 11-over-par. Sitting in the clubhouse post-round I felt pretty terrible. There are only so many times you can apologise for your ineptitude and no matter how many times your team-mates tell you, “Don’t worry, it happens,” you know, inwardly they’re thinking you’re a complete plonker.
The only consolation was that the other boys both received handicap cuts and Adam was one of the four qualifiers for the matchplay title. He made it to the final and narrowly lost out on the 17th.
On the drive home I’d decided my love affair with golf was over. I was planning to put my sticks in the darkest corner of the garage and was thinking about taking up another sport, table-tennis perhaps. But, it seems true love can, indeed, overcome any obstacle as I was out playing again the next day.