You may have noticed, especially if you are in the golfing fraternity, that golfers love to name drop. Not about professional players they may have met. Or various stars of stage and screen that also frequent the swathes of lush grass and verdant valley. No, they, (professional golfers and aforementioned), pall into insignificance when your average club buddy is talking about the courses they have played around the world.
St Andrews? Oh Yah, I've played there. Wonderful course and quite difficult you know. Meaning they were totally embarrassed, played like a novice and probably lost a dozen balls in the process. But, at least they can say they've played there.
St Mellion? Oh of course, dear boy, play there all the time.
TPC Sawgrass? Yep, been there too. (Only on the Nintendo though).
And so on. Lying bastards!
I am no exception, sad to say. Related below is a blow by blow account of my miraculous game at Hindhead Golf Club, in the wilds of Surrey. Did you know it's a qualifying course for the open? Well it is or was and that should give you a clue about the degree of difficulty faced. (Bet you're hooked now eh?)
Now, I am not going to give you all eighteen holes worth of tragedy, bad luck and mis-fortune suffered while in the company of two very good players, but I will relate a truncated and précis version, cutting out the swear words and many of the errant shots.
Hole 1. Played off the yellow tees. Par 4. 401 yards long. Straight ... ish.
The tee shot needs to have at least a 200 yard carry to get over the purple heather in front of you and down both sides of the fairway. My drive was anything but straight ... ish and landed in deep heather, having being blocked out right by my errant swing. I then had one of those Hamlet moments (popular small cigar) where a cigar would have been preferable than to try to hack out the little bugger, followed by a putt for double bogey. Great start! At least I kept the ball.
Hole 2. Par 4, 407 yards long with a blind tee shot to a narrow fairway. A blind man would have made a better attempt at finding the short stuff than I did. I had another hamlet moment to get out of the heather that grows profusely on each bank forming the valley of the hole. Again, I managed to keep the ball, but thought seriously about chucking it in the bushes.
Hole 3. 177 yards long. Par 3. I managed to miss the heather and the bunkers on the right. I also managed to miss the green but did hit the steep bank on the left. The ball I had managed to keep for the first two holes was deemed lost and gone for ever. Good riddance!
Hole 4 is a par five at 526 yards, another valley with steep, heather clad sides. I pared that one. Yippee!
Hole 5. Is another valley shaped hole with dog-leg to the left and a well-placed fairway bunker; too well-placed if you ask me. If memory serves, I managed a bogey and retained the ball.
Hole 6. I got another par! On a hole that is 136 yards long. I'm cooking on gas now. Watch out course, I'm on fire. Yeah right!
Hole 7. Stroke index 1. (meaning the hardest on the course), at 387 yards long. Not too far really. We will not speak of this hole ... Ever!
Hole 8. Perhaps I was a little demoralised by the previous, never to be mentioned again, hole. My cut fade to the green, 222 yards away certainly looked demoralised, but I found the ball, eventually. Oh joy!
Hole 9. 408 yards, all up hill. I possibly travelled 610 yards by the time I found the green.