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FORE! - A lost lob wedge and a final hole lip-out
THIS column is supposed to be in hibernation for the horribly wet winter – but I’m still managing to play on a fairly regular basis and recently had a round that I could not resist sharing.
I’m not sure how, but I’ve managed to play fairly often since the turn of the year. My latest escapade was actually my fourth outing of 2014.
Of course, with the wet weather causing massive problems for courses everywhere, I’ve had to put up with my fair share of temporary greens, shortened layouts and boggy fairways.
However, while my final round of 2013 saw me play some pretty terrible stuff, beginning with a topped tee-shot at the first that found a ditch and never really getting better, I have been in decent form so far this year.
Going into my latest round, against my brother-in-law, Steve and my friend Russ, I had recorded two scores of 100 and one of 99, heady stuff by my standards.
I put this down to concentrating on keeping my left arm as straight as possible, something that seems to be working a treat, with far less duffed shots and much-improved driving.
My improvement was clear to see on the first hole as I hit two solid shots before playing a great pitch to a temporary green and holing the putt for a par.
A bogey followed at the second and I was three shots clear of my playing partners, one of whom, Steve, made the biggest mistake of the round in an angry rage.
Frustrated at making a mess of a chip shot, he attempted to throw his lob wedge at his bag. Despite being only a couple of yards away, he somehow managed to miss, sending his club 10 yards past his intended target.
He finished off and collected his bag, but neglected to pick up the lob wedge – and it wasn’t until two holes later that he realised what he had done.
In that space of time, my short game had let me down badly and I had gone from three shots clear to trailing both of my playing partners.
I made par at five but Steve and I had a trip to the water on the short par-three sixth. However, while I had to take a penalty shot, Steve splashed out in style and almost made par, though he did get very wet in the process, not ideal on a cold day in February.
Things were dreadfully tight at the turn, with the three of us separated by just two shots.
At that point, Steve and I went on a bad run. Steve was quick to blame the absence of his beloved lob wedge for all of his woes, while I had no excuse.
After 12 holes, Russ had a four-shot lead over me, with Steve a further shot behind. I pulled one back with a bogey five at the next but Russ matched my par at the 14th and remained three ahead with just three holes to play.
Steve’s lob wedge absence had destroyed his game (that was his story and he was sticking to it!), leaving him a further five shots behind and out of contention.
The 16th was a short par-four and while I went for safety and secured a solid par, Russ went for glory. It didn’t work as his attempt to find the green with his tee-shot was wayward and he ended up taking a six, reducing his lead to a single stroke.
Worse was to follow on the next, a long par five that Russ hacked his way down, eventually taking 10 after somehow managing to get over a barrier of trees. I took eight and was a shot ahead going down the last.
Russ went for glory again, but this time his gamble paid off as his tee-shot ended up just short of the green. I failed to make proper contact with my second shot and we were an almost identical distance away, having had the same number of shots over the course of the round.
My chip on was better than Russ’ putted attempt and when he missed the return, I had a 10 footer for victory. I sent my putt away but began to celebrate prematurely as the ball lipped out, sending me to my knees, hitting my head on the green in frustration.
An honourable draw in 98, my best round of the year so far.
This weekend, if the weather holds out, I am due to compete in the Hampshire Masters, taking on seven of my friends, including Russ and Steve. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Oh, and to stop Steve moaning, I have let him have two unused wedges that had been gathering dust in my garage.
It may turn out to be a foolish mistake if Steve, who is 3-1 down to me so far this year, puts them to good use, but I may have had a nervous breakdown if I’d heard him complaining about his lost club any more.
Follow me on Twitter @JBoymanGazette.