The other month I was playing on the course where in some misguided moment I became a member. Let’s call it The Lion’s Lair because I may wish to continue my membership and my confessions could well result in my money being refused in future. The course is a typical nine hole course masquerading as 18 holes. This means after you have been round once (nine holes) you can, if you’re a masochist, go round again.
They try to pretend there are 18 different holes by having 18 different tees* and have given them 18 different names (things like Wooky Hollow and Aged Oak etc). Except it was winter so you have to start from rubber mats called winter tees so you don’t create a mud bath at the beginning of each hole. Times are hard so there are only 9 of these…
So the tenth hole is a rerun of the first hole but on this occasion all was well. There was no one about to start his/her round. This avoided three potential big problems for a golf hacker. If they let you play first then it is certain you will either miss the ball completely, fall over or both, because they will be watching… If they go first they will either be very good, which is extremely depressing, or even worse than I am and have never heard of playing through* so the chances of finishing the second nine holes before nightfall and not in the last stages of hypothermia become extremely slim.
The third problem? If there is only one of them they will suggest they join you…
I can’t entirely explain why this is by far the worst thing that can happen but if I can be sexist for a moment I’ll use an analogy men will understand from personal experience. Female readers will probably get the drift because on those occasions when I have discussed men’s conveniences with them – yes, the after dinner conversation in the Old Bamber household is riveting – they just can’t believe the communal nature of it.
Back to the analogy: imagine you’re paying a call of nature in some public conveniences with (say) 12 stalls. You are alone. You have approached a stall and being a bloke of mature years are spending a bit of time lining up the mental synapses to communicate the appropriate message to achieve ignition when someone enters and lines up, right bang next to you… Well, it’s like that. I find explaining I’m in the highly infectious stages of shingles which is why I am by myself as opposed to the truth which is that I am Billy No-Mates normally does the trick. And I do the same on the golf course…
Anyway, back to the tenth tee. Two hundred and fifty yards ahead of me is the little hole I am supposing to be aiming at but frankly it might as well be half a mile away… About 100 yards ahead of me is a bl**dy great tree. If I’d paid more attention in biology when I was 12 I’d be able to tell you what kind of tree it is but I didn’t so I can’t. On the principle – which works for me about nine and a half times out of 10 – that if I aim for the tree I’ll miss it I do so. I address the ball – this means I waggle the head of my driver at the ball while waggling my bottom – I’m not quite sure why but all the best golfers do it. I hit the ball. The ball hits the tree.
Now, my reaction marks the difference between a golf hacker and real player. I am pleased:
- I got the ball up in the air and
- it went in the direction I aimed and
- it went 100 yards.
This is success. This particular tree has form and has previously swallowed one of my balls… But on this occasion I can see my ball… it has not disappeared. For the hack golfer this is golfing Nirvana…
Glossary of technical terms
Tees – Confusingly, two different but related things. The place you start each hole from and the little mushroom type thing (well, how you would you describe it?) made of wood or plastic you perch you ball on to give it a fighting chance of going up in the air
Playing through – If you are taking for ever and holding up the players behind you then you stop and let them play the hole you are about to start so then they have ‘played through’ you (as it were)