With limited time to enjoy our favourite pastime the anticipation of a game is something to be savoured on the preceding days. However, as I found out to my cost this weekend, expectation can on occasion be detrimental to your golf.
The annual match between the Old Carthusians and Rye Golf Club is one I?d been particularly looking forward to. Although a two day match, I was only playing the Sunday and it was an early start from home to make the 9am tee time. On reaching the Romney Marshes I noticed a couple of flags not so much fluttering on the breeze but straining to remain attached to the pole. The wind was up.
My partner for the morning round, the matches being foursomes, was Patrick Foley-Brickley, a good golfer off 3, who I?d partnered before with some success. My confidence was high.
That was my first mistake.
My second mistake occurred soon after when I quacked my opening drive, finding the cabbage on the left, leaving my partner no chance of reaching the green. Still, he recovered well and I proceeded to pure my next shot, didn?t even feel it off the clubface – a perfect 130 yard wedge. Unfortunately the green was only 110 yards away. A fluffed chip from Patrick and we were one down.
My partner then skinned his tee shot on the second, a par 3, leaving the ball 10 yards through the green. Obviously my empathy for Patrick ran deep and not wanting him to dwell on his fluffed chip I gave him a chance to dwell on mine. Two down.
After hitting the fairway with my drive on the third (more by luck than judgment) Patrick pulled our second finding the deep stuff. My hack moved the ball about a foot? underground. Three down.
The next hole we snatched a half from the jaws of a win, lost the next to a bogey. Four down after five, this was not how it was meant to be.
We fought back bravely and from the turn started to play some tidy golf. But in the end it proved too much and we lost on the 18th.
Buoyed by the better back nine and a hearty roast, I embarked on the afternoon match full of confidence. When will I ever learn? My partner this time was Christian Ayres who, playing off 2, is well known as a fantastic wind player. His game turned out to be indeed windproof, it wasn?t unfortunately actor-proof.
We jumped to an early two hole lead, some brilliant play from my partner and some donation golf from our opponents. After that, even though the opposition played poorly, due to my inability with the flat stick we couldn?t capitalise. Christian is a paragon of bonhomie on the links but even he started to rankle as for the third time I found myself unable to get a putt within 8 feet of the hole.
My golf was perfectly summed up by the 9th, a 320-yard par 4. A beautiful drive by my partner left me a simple 20-yard pitch, into the wind, to an inviting pin. With our opponents in trouble, this was a pivotal moment in the match. ?I can be aggressive with this,? I said to myself.
As Christian was playing the third shot from the bunker short of the green I could hear him intoning some extreme obscenities. These oaths grew more vociferous as I hooked my next tee shot into the cabbage, the ball never to be seen again.
We lost the match. Christian had played well, our opponents had played badly, but at least they had played golf. I?d been a golfing albatross, and not the good kind.
I was gutted. A match I?d looked forward to for so long had turned into a nightmare. The only thing I hit properly on the day was a massive traffic jam on the M25.
I?m playing the Berkshire tomorrow. I?m doing my best not to look forward to it.