We were sitting in the spike bar the other week when one of the members sloped in in a very sorry state. His head was down, his lips pursed and he had a wild look in his eyes. He even forsook his usual pint of ‘Gunner’ for something much stronger and a large one to boot.
Gazing at his glass he shook his head slowly and sat down on his own looking, for all the world, as though this could well be his last day on earth and the VAT man had just impounded his favourite gun dog.
He had taken a regal thumping in his match and his game had slowly and steadily dissolved in his hands as he whiffled, foozled, topped, shanked and generally slashed his way around the course in the manner of an irate matador trying to bring his bull to ground by carving at it with a broom handle.
One of the bolder chaps in the bar went over and asked him precisely what had happened to produce the lengthy catalogue of errors that had left our man shaking hands on the 12th and collecting his ‘Dog license.’
Apparently it was no fault of his but entirely down to his opponent, who had whistled, chattered, told gags, sang songs and genuinely been as chirpy as the proverbial linnet as he knocked his ball greenwards on every occasion.
And each time our man lashed his ball into a thicket or topped it into a brook his opponent laughed merrily before crying, ‘What rotten luck, I thought you had cleared it on that occasion.’
That great wordsmith, P.G. Wodehouse, wrote of such a golfer, ‘The least thing upset him. He missed short putts because of the uproar of butterflies in an adjoining meadow’ and, sadly, there is no doubt our man fits most into that category of player who can blame absolutely anything onto an opponent, and very often a partner, without ever facing the sad reality that he is not really cut out to concentrate on the 95 or so times he has to hit a golf ball, whilst also expecting with total sanguinity that one day, given a following wind, a decent slice of good fortune and if those damn putts finally drop he will most certainly shoot 78.
But golf, being the game that it is, it is with utter certainty that our man will be out again tomorrow hoping against hope that this day will be the one when everything falls magically into place and par will beget par.
Perhaps he would find the game a much less self lacerating experience if he simply followed another of Wodehouse’s splendid maxims: ‘Sudden success in golf is like the sudden acquisition of wealth. It is apt to unsettle and deteriorate the character.’
What is the best excuse you have heard or used for a shocking round? Do let us know.