As a change from ball collecting, one Monday morning a friend and I decided we would tackle 9 holes at The Lion’s Lair.
Keran* is a (very) occasional golfer who’s been playing about seven years. We hadn’t played together before so neither of us knew how bad each other was although we had both established through coded conversation that comparisons would be based on poor performance rather than any expertise. For some reason the course was much busier than usual. As we got ready to start I noticed a threesome whose combined age in years was only exceeded by their weight in kilos. I have seen extremely arthritic snails who could have beaten them round the course. So I took an executive decision and decided we would start at the 4th.
Now was the moment of truth. Keran doesn’t use a driver, but a 3 Wood and he proceeded to launch the ball all of 30 yards; I felt myself relax – another golf hacker… My drive was slightly worse. It looked like we would not be too unevenly matched. After I had played a couple of truly horrible scuffed shots with a 5 iron, Keran diagnosed my problem. “You’re not keeping your head still – it’s coming up too quickly.” He was right – it was because I normally play on this course by myself and I need to look up quickly to see where I have hit my ball. He won the 4th; we halved the 5th and 6th, both managing to avoid the pond and playing a game not totally dissimilar to golf.
On the short par three 7th we both had disasters. His first shot bounced into a bunker; mine disappeared into some long grass by the 5th tee. My recovery shot came out too cleanly and disappeared into the great unknown beyond the green, never to be seen again. Keran took 8 shots to get out of the bunker. I would like to say I was deeply saddened, but it wouldn’t really be the truth. I won the hole by, I think, 10 shots to his 11.
Forward to the 8th – with the river running down the right hand side. Keran ended up playing five* off the tee as both his first two shots zoomed right for an early bath. He then lost a ball in the middle of the fairway, which had both of us baffled. So I won another hole (just). Not that we were counting, you understand.
The 9th is a par 3 played over the access road into the golf course. I managed to plug my tee shot into some rough short of the road. Keran’s tee shot went quite a way right towards the clubhouse, bounced on the road on to the bonnet of a van marked ‘Gardening Contractors’. This head-butted the ball towards the green. A master-stroke, Keran declared, once he realised his ball hadn’t gone through the van’s windscreen. He was in danger of making par but despite having trouble with his putting did well enough to win the hole. At the first both of us managed (half) decent tee shots. Keran’s second left him just short of the green. He then proceeded to whack a 9 iron out of bounds beyond the green. Another hole for me.
The 2nd is the course’s signature hole – a par 3 down to a green protected on the right by a hill and to the front and left by a stream. It’s the sort of hole where the commentators say club selection is key – in my case it doesn’t make a lot of difference as whichever club I have used I have got nowhere near the green. Keran shoved his shot into the water but played a nice chip on to the green with his third. My tee shot was (very) short and left; a couple of shots later I managed to hit a wedge over the green to about 2 inches from a rock. It was at this point that Keran showed me his special club – a chipper, which can be used either left handed or right handed. Apparently, it is easier to hit wedge shots with it. My only option was to hit the ball into the rock with my putter so it bounced back on to the green, which I duly did. Keran hit a nice putt and took the hole.
Finally both of us managed to play the 3rd reasonably well, almost threatening par and halving the hole. Assuming my arithmetic was right, honour was shared – we were both as crap as each other, but I had lost fewer balls which, as you know, is what truly matters… Actually, I had won as I discovered afterwards that his chipper was an illegal club!
As for Marge I’m still waiting for a reply… perhaps it will have arrived by next time…
Glossary of technical terms
*Keran – named, I believe, after some American general in the Korean war. His father liked the name…
*Five off the tee – Keran’s first ball was lost in the river so he was penalised one shot and meant his next shot counted as his third. This also disappeared downstream so that meant his next shot was his fifth.