The moment had arrived. Old Bob had laughed at my injured heel and hinted that I was using it as an excuse not to turn up for golf. Well, being Bob he didn’t hint so much as shout this, inasmuch as you can shout on email. I have to say I feared he would go into CAPITAL mode but he kept his keyboard under control.
My major problem was what to wear on my feet. Having, according to Mrs Bamber, the brain of an amoeba which has taken too many drugs in its youth, I thought I’d wear some new shoes I’d purchased from some supermarket for £15. Just the job when you have a sore heel – walk about 3 miles in a pair of brand new shoes. Somehow I had also developed a hole in the sole of my other foot… Anyway, I stepped out with a hat on to keep at bay the hottest day of the year.
To date Bob and I had played largely for fun. Well, he’d had fun. There was one occasion when he introduced some complex putting competition the rules of which amounted to whatever happened he won, which I eventually spotted, even with my amoeba type brain. But on this occasion we agreed that he would give me a shot each hole i.e. if he took 4 strokes and I took 5 it was a tie etc. Frankly, I thought I’d get hammered, but the simplicity of the formula attracted me and given my heel and the heat I thought I could lose 10 and 8* and trot off down the boozer…
Given my previous comments I have to say the course at Middleton was much improved – the bunkers had been raked and the greens were much better. Surprisingly we halved* the first hole. I hit a somewhat wayward 5 iron left of the green while Bob landed his ball in the bunker. Bob said that was the best opening shot I had played. Patronising [expletive deleted].
As we strode off the fourth green I was three up. Most of it was due to some reasonable play by me and although Bob wasn’t firing on all cylinders (at his age he could blow up) he was playing quite reasonably. I had eradicated (at least temporarily) the dribbly shots along the ground and my putting was better than his.
To be fair, that was pretty well as good as it got. In true traditional Old Bamber style I whacked my drive on the dogleg 5th straight into a large patch of nettles, never to be seen again. By the 8th tee we were level and standing on the 14th tee I was 4 down with only 5 holes to play.
Now the 14th is a short 142 yard hole downhill where club selection is important. If your shot is too long you zoom over the back of the green and there’s more chance of Nick Clegg becoming Prime Minster than there is of finding your ball. For some reason I haven’t worked out Bob doesn’t like this hole. Somehow, a rather lucky shot by me, which may possibly have travelled in and out of the bunker, ended on the green whereas Bob sliced his. So I’m now 3 down with 4 to play*.
The 15th is a pig of a hole – a long par 4 and all up hill. It got to the point when if I holed my putt and Bob missed his I would get back to 2 down with 3 to play. There’s a bit of a walk from the 15th green to the 16th tee – let’s just say Bob wasn’t his usual sunny self.
We both made a horlicks of the 16th. Bob took an 8 iron just as the wind disappeared and sailed way over the green. I lost my first ball in some nettles. Somehow I managed to halve the hole so I was 2 down with 2 to play.*
Needless to say Bob marmalised me on the 17th to win 3 & 1. We meandered down the 18th to finish the round and there was general agreement I had improved quite considerably. And so nearly ended a very pleasant afternoon, even if I was very hot and had a blister on the other heel…
Before we got in the car, as I was removing my bag from the trolley, I checked that I had everything. Brain, water-bottle, Kit Kat wrapper, handkerchief, keys, mobile phone… After much checking of the golf bag – you wouldn’t believe how many nooks and crannies they have – it became clear that keys and mobile phone had gone walkabout. To be fair this is where Old Bob came into his own and I was glad I’d let him win the 17th. He was calmness personified and said we‘d just have to walk slowly back the way we had come until we located the missing items… Oh deep joy – I restrained myself from pointing out we could find the needle that guy lost in the haystack while we were at it.
At this point the threesome, which had been playing behind us strolled up and one of them said: “Anyone lost a phone, some keys and 30p.”
Glossary of technical terms
Losing 10 & 8 – There are two main ways of scoring at golf: counting total strokes – lowest total winning (stroke play) or counting holes won (match play). In the latter if someone wins the first hole (takes fewer strokes than their opponent) they are 1 up etc. and so on until there are insufficient holes for the other play to tie in which case a winner is declared. Losing 10 & 8 would mean that one player has won the first 10 holes and his opponent has lost 10 & 8 as there are only 8 holes left to play.
Halved – each player takes the same number of shots so the hole is ‘halved’; in this case as Bob was giving me a stroke each hole I took 5 strokes and he took 4.
3 down with 4 to play – There were four holes left so I could still win or tie
2 down with 2 to play – This would be described as Bob being ‘dormie’; as we weren’t playing extra holes Bob couldn’t lose – the worse that could happen from his point of view would be that I won the two remaining holes and we tied. ‘Dormie’ may come from the French ‘dormir’ – to sleep – the idea being the winning play can nod off and still not lose.