“Golfing hacker” Peter Corrigan explains why he perseveres at golf – in spite of a handicap of 28.
The more haughty golfers tend to look down their noses at players like me because we are not very good at the game. They call us hackers on account of our progress around the course resembling someone trying to hack their way out of a jungle.
More sensitive souls would probably give up the game but we hackers are a determined breed – and driven by a wild hope that one day we are going to improve. And, wonder upon wonder, we do improve occasionally, but the nature of golf is such that we soon slip back into bad habits.
Undaunted, we persevere and acquire a resilience that protects us against despair – and, I promise you, despair is never far away from a person ill-fitted for the task of propelling a small ball in the right direction.
But, however much we are mocked, we insist on donating to the world one priceless truth: that you don’t have to be good at something to enjoy it. Countless poor souls impoverish their lives for fear of making a fool of themselves.
Whenever I set out to play a round – and it is at least twice a week when the course is not waterlogged – I feel I’m on an adventure, a journey into the unknown.
Good golfers tend to know how they will fare. I don’t. I can play two or three holes very well and then launch into a sequence of such uncoordinated flays at the ball my score soars upwards.
Yet I remain convinced that my next shot is going to be brilliant, and sometimes it is. Not frequently, but often enough to keep me ploughing on. There is no doubt that golf is the best game in the world to be bad at. And if you can remain philosophical about it there is pleasure to be had, even by the poorest of participants.
This is by no means an original thought. That artful old hacker David Lloyd George remarked when he was prime minister 100 years ago: “Golf is the only game where the worst player gets the best of it. He obtains more out of it as regards exercise and enjoyment. The good player gets worried over the slightest mistake whereas the poor player makes too many mistakes to worry about them.”
How true those words are, even today. Playing with some serious golfers can be a right misery, but laughter is never far away when I’m involved. Most of the laughs are aimed at me but I always join in – once I’ve stopped swearing.
Of course, no-one takes up golf in order to be useless at it. The very essence of the game is a quest for improvement and I promise I have tried hard for many years.
It hasn’t been a total failure. I have won the odd trophy and beaten some good players but, now in my seventies, my handicap has drifted to 28 which is the maximum. Ladies are allowed a maximum of 36 but it is not worth the operation.
I entered this year with the firm resolution of bringing my handicap down and that is my intention. I had a serious operation last year and the fact I regularly play golf has undoubtedly helped my recovery.
I think the operation might have had a beneficial effect on my swing. We’ll soon find out. The lousy weather has ruined golf for most in the past few months but, as you read this, I will be on a long visit to the United States where I’ll be watching and playing golf in Arizona and Florida. After that I’m going to Bermuda.
That’s another good thing about golf; you can be bad at it in some of loveliest places in the world. And I can be relied upon to faithfully report on any atrocities I commit on my travels.