I can’t say I’m proud of returning 21 points playing off a handicap of 18, but my first course outing with Golf Monthly was a memorable one for various reasons I will try to explain.
The 50-mile drive to Crowborough Beacon was relatively smooth, just like Heart FM as it drowned out TomTom telling me to make a U-Turn when possible.
Neil Tappin joined Jezz Ellwood and myself. Paul O’Hagan and Luke Norman were running late – nothing unusual there I was informed. This is when I got panicky.
I knew I’d be teeing off with two very solid single-figure handicappers. Then, when Neil uttered “white tees” and “five pound stakes” that was effectively it.
The rain had eased as we enjoyed a delightful ham and cheese sandwich. But then, as we trudged to the first, the heavens opened and it was wet weather gear for the next three hours. I would soon discover the sheer ineptness of my waterproofs. It stopped on the 16th, which was nice.
Now, this blog has a word limit so I’ll try and sum up key moments. On hole one Jezz hooked into the trees and Tappers pushed one into the gorsey-heather stuff. After a deep breath I was straight down the middle with a 2-iron. Easy.
It was not going to be too bad. I’d bag myself a respectable 30-odd points and embarrassing moments would be scarce. In fact, judging by the seemingly average drives by my playing partners, I may actually spring a surprise.
Walking off the green with a double-bogey six, and with Tappers somehow making par, my moment of optimism had come and gone.
When I shanked a 7-iron on a short par-3 moments later, my fragile confidence was in tatters. From this point on it was damage limitation, and despite a laughable 21 points, I feel I achieved that objective. This may sound strange but I had six blobs, it rained relentlessly, I was in intimidating company (good players), we were playing off whites, and I wasn’t using a driver. That’s another story.
Fast forward most of my miserable round – and just as I was beginning to relax – Messrs O’Hagan and Norman caught us up, and for the remaining few holes we played as a five-ball. It really was quite depressing seeing four of my colleagues smile and chat away nonchalantly before sending one down the best part of 300 yards.
Cue ‘embarrass myself in front of the rest of the team’. I kind of avoided that until the 18th when O’Hagan offered me the use of his driver. Landing in the heather I hacked out and felt a nice little twinge in my rotator cuff that said ‘stay out of the heather please’. Another blob.
As a consultation prize, I feel I may have gained enough sympathy to warrant some waterproofs. A top brand – the name I won’t mention – failed me on Sunday. It failed me because it was just a shower-proof jacket. What’s the difference? Do people really design coats that withstand just a bit of water? To me that’s a job half done. Lazy.
So, in conclusion, if I’d had the correct wet weather gear, if I’d been using a driver, if we’d being playing off yellows, if I’d been playing with fellow hackers, and if the rain had been a little less heavy, I’d have bagged 38 points and the £25.
Finally, a special mention for my Nike Victory Red irons. I could do a full review but if you’ve just read this blog you’d be entitled to think, ‘why listen to a hacker.’ You’re spot on. However, there were some good moments in my round.
The irons are very forgiving. I can say that with conviction. They are lovely to look down on, and sit perfectly for someone who likes a clubface not too small, but not too large. You really know when you’ve caught one sweetly, and they feel beautifully weighted.
I’m satisfied to have got this all off my chest. But, before posting on the website I have just read Mr Ellwood’s column on page 39 of the December issue. I fear I may have annoyed him on Sunday with the words “I’m not normally this bad”. Sorry, Jezz, I just couldn’t think of anything else to say!