Now where were we? Ah, yes at Middleton Park with Andy and Bob.
The 8th hole is the longest on the course – a splendid 466 yard hole that doglegs to the left. I hit a half reasonable drive, which landed in some snow. Boring Bob hit his usual sound drive and Andy launched a fantastic shot, which sailed past Bob’s. Maybe it was the ball?
As we stood on the ninth tee I noticed a group of teenage boys. I decided to drive first and even by my standards hit a particularly poor shot. Noises of half swallowed guffaws… Of course, the others hit perfect shots… Andy’s game was transformed…
I have a particular affection for the short 12th – not least because on my last visit with Bob my shot hit a tree and only narrowly missed him when it rebounded… Andy lost his ball and then played a superb second* from where his first ball disappeared and hit the approach shot of the day to six feet from the hole.
We reached the 13th tee and I asked Andy about the club he was driving with. It’s a hybrid.* Well , no wonder he was playing well – a new ball and a cheating club. I wondered how much they cost…
They say there is much joy in heaven over a sinner who repents and Bob waxes lyrical about how great it feels when you really middle a shot… But as a golf hacker this is as about as likely as getting sunstroke in Keswick; the real pleasure is when one of your playing partners makes a complete foul up.
A better person than I wouldn’t mention this, particularly as it was the only shot in the whole round he messed up, but Bob proceeded to mishit his drive completely, which squirmed away into some bushes on the left and I finally hit one properly. Needless to say normal service was then resumed… Pride goes before a fall, only in my case it also proceeds it and totally overwhelms it at every point.
The 15th is a long par 4 – 410 yards and every one of them uphill. At this point my game finally disintegrated** altogether and I played a series of shots when the ball moved about ten feet. Bob came over to me, shook his head and said: “I really don’t know what to suggest”. I think mercy-killing was in his mind…
I like the 16th, which is back on the new part of the course*. It’s an extremely short par 3 – 97 yards with a drop of about 50 feet to the green, which is the other side of some trees. Bob has never managed yet to find the green with his tee shot and he didn’t on this occasion. A truly wonderful hole… Of course, I didn’t either.
Bob claimed he got a par 4 on the 288 yard 17th. Golf etiquette requires you to wait and watch patiently until it is your turn with the person furthest from the hole playing first. Bob, and to a lesser extent Andy, had spent quite a lot of time waiting for me. Okay, acres of times, hectares even… Andy’s ball had shot over the back of the green and he nearly managed to decapitate Bob when his ball flew back onto the green. I was fiddling about off the front of the green when Bob said he’d holed his putt… Strange that neither Andy nor I witnessed this…
The 18th tee is situated reasonably close to Beeston Park Ring Road. I sliced my drive. Badly. We all looked at each other and listened. Had I hit the ball hard enough for it to reach the road… Almost certainly. If so what would it hit?
Nothing – thankfully. I played a second drive, which was short and left but didn’t endanger the traffic. The 18th has a raised green with a bank in front of it and behind it so it’s like landing a ball on a shelf. On this occasion this was not made easier because it was the one place on the course where snow lay around in any quantity. I must have hit about six shots chipping backwards and forwards trying to land on the shelf until I managed to get my ball to stick in the snow.
At one point Bob complained of the risks of getting hypothermia while he waited for me. You can’t rush genius, I pointed out… Bob’s reply was lost in the wind, which had fortuitously just got up.
Glossary of technical terms
Second – It was his second shot but if we had been scoring it have been regarded as his third. If you lose you ball you add one to your score. We weren’t keeping score. I would have needed an extremely powerful computer to keep count…
Hybrid – A club which is a cross between an iron and a wood. It is easier to use than a low number iron
Course – At Middleton, the new part of the course comprises holes 1 to 6 and 16, 17 and 18. The old part of the course comprises the other nine holes making 18 in total.
** I had trouble here with what verb to use: ‘disintegrated’ suggests my game was ‘integrated’ at some point which would be a lie.