If you have tears, prepare to weep them now. The 12th is an uphill par 4 and SI 4, an easily makeable five for me, especially after two decent woods had me in the middle of the fairway. I hit the ground with a lackadaisical half-swing. The ball looked like making the left of the green but my luck was out. It changed its mind and rolled disconsolately into the perniciously steep bunker. And sand is not my forte. And I was close to the front edge, deep in a footprint, with which the bunker (damn those pay-and-players, damn those feckless ground staff) was liberally sprinkled.
As usual, when staring disaster in the face, instead of thinking about it (play sideways, drop for a penalty, do anything but hack away mindlessly) the red mist descended and I hacked away mindlessly. My audience were politely silent but when I asked how many I had taken to get out of said bunker, the number they came up with was seven. Seven? Were they sure? They were.
So there it was, a 12 on my once lovely card. But hang on a minute. After exiting the bunker too fast and too far, I had played the prettiest chip you ever did see to get down in two on a notorious difficult green. Not only that, my exertions (and the steam coming out of my ears) had at last got my circulation going. I was perfectly warm. Was there a chance I could rise above it? After all, I was only six shots (!!!) over net par on that hole. And there were six holes left. I decided to laugh in the face of adversity and attempt to save a shot on every remaining hole. Who was I kidding? Who indeed.
Well, I did par 13 (SI 17, but a par is a par is a shot saved). Hole 14 is a testing dogleg involving trees and water. My tee shot gave me no option but to fly at the flag over the lake, with a ditch and hedge on the far side. In my desire to be positive I went too far. So bloody far that I was through the hedge, over the ditch and the neighbouring path and on the light rough bordering the 13th fairway. I was less than 30 yards from the flag but on a down slope, and the hedge, now that I was standing behind it, was more a line of small trees. And high pitches are not my forte. And the green sloped away towards the lake. This was it; another ‘blob, the fatal blow. I dusted down the sand wedge (still rather warm from recent use) and tested myself on what I knew about lofting a ball off a down slope. Clearly those golf tip gurus know their stuff. The ball popped tidily over the tree, landed as light as a feather on the edge of the green and rolled to within a few feet of the hole. One of the best shots I have ever played in my life. Impressed? You will be. I strolled up and putted it in for a par. I saved two more shots on the next two holes. Four saved, two to go. I was on target to claw back my six.
Sadly the par-3 17th, (island green) didn’t go according to plan. As I ran out of emotional energy, I pulled my tee shot and it disappeared over the back of the green. Technically, my ball may have been in the lake, but I stood with water lapping over my Eccos to get it up on the green and down in another two. I could live with a four. At this point, I felt that given my performance on 12 and the way I’d responded, my round had been little short of heroic. I stood up on the easy 18th with the wind behind, waggled my trusty 3-wood and looked forward to a five at worst and maybe even the four, which would give me a round of 87. Not bad considering.
Did I mention the lake? No, this narrow stretch of water right in front of the tee is hardly worth mentioning. I have never been in it, I have barely even thought about it. Of course if I had, I might have left off congratulating myself and hit a clean shot instead of topping my ‘lucky ball’ straight in the drink. Ah well, how are the mighty fallen. I hit a second ball, made a six, and returned a total of 89. But hey, my Stableford score was 43. The handicap secretary (that’s Mr B. to you) consoled me that unless I wanted a handicap cut to 20 (ouch!) it was maybe for the best I hadn’t entered the competition.
The moral of the story is nil desperandum, or if you have a nightmare hole, don’t give up completely. As for me, the only lesson I need is one on getting out of bunkers.