Each week, four of the NCG team get together to ask each other the pressing questions. The only rule is: The question must be golf related.
In this edition, Dan Murphy, Alex Perry, Mark Townsend and James Savage take to the tee…
Dan: Speaking from recent, bitter, personal experience, a blind 70-yard pitch from a tight links fairway that is basically made of sand on a windy day: is this the hardest shot in golf?
Alex: Speaking from recent, bitter, personal experience, up against a wall of a greenside bunker. I just can’t do it. But do I take my medicine, play out sideways and attempt to get down in two from there? Don’t be silly, I’m obviously going to lash at it, leave the ball in the trap, and get a mouth full of sand for my troubles.
Mark: Speaking from recent, bitter, personal experience of the past two decades anything that involves hitting a chip shot in front of spectators. No chance to putt round the issue, just the stark dread that you are going to have to get out a wedge with 50-plus degrees of loft and show yourself to the watching world. Anything could then happen – dunch, knife, double hit, complete whiff – other than nipping it off the surface and jazzing it up to tap-in range.
James: Speaking from recent, bitter, personal experience, I’m 170 yards out, stood in a bunker with the ball on the grass verge about knee height. I’m playing to a green with the pin tucked away on the right and need to carry another bunker. I basically need to hit a high cut. I’ve got nothing.
Alex: I was playing with a friend a few years back who pulled an approach shot so badly it was sailing out of bounds. We watched on in shock and amusement as it connected with a rock, launched high up into the air, onto the green, and within gimme range for birdie. What’s the luckiest or, indeed, unluckiest shot you’ve ever witnessed?
Mark: Against all the odds my partner and I reached the final of the club foursomes. The strategy all year had been to keep calm, laugh, and congratulate an opponent when they did something good and generally never show any negative emotions. I hate mind games and snide comments and always think they will come back to bite you.
At the 1st hole of our big day – we were wearing our best outfits and everything – our opponent hit a 3-wood that went straight left, bounced twice, hit a bridge and rebounded to 10 feet.
I had just started to mutter “Don’t say anything” when my partner began convulsing and screaming something along the lines of “How many times have you done that in the 40 years you’ve been a member here?”
He then fatted a wedge into the ditch that the bridge spanned, they made a birdie and we lost 5&4.
James: Dan and I played a match against two other NCG colleagues at PGA National in Florida. Faced with a very tough bunker shot with little green to work with, one of said colleagues knifed his effort into the lip which somehow sent the ball up straight into the air before nestling next to the hole for a tap in. I’ve never seen Dan so angry.
Dan: It would have to be Gate-gate. At a crucial moment in a tight foursomes match, a veritable exocet of a flat pull was heading out-of-bounds at a long par 3, only to ricochet off a metal gate and rebound back not only on to the golf course but actually to within spitting distance of the green.
Mark: I’ve got a £50 voucher for you to spend with any golf retailer. How would you dispose of it?
James: A massive bag of tees. No, two massive bags of tees. Some socks and a beanie.
Dan: Really weird things like a huge bag of tees, some more spare batteries for my laser and a new club-cleaning brush. Possibly even some lead tape that I will never, ever use.
Alex: I’d probably spend ages trying to pick a really nice polo shirt or sweater, then eventually give up due to everything having an errant logo or a brief splash of colour I don’t like and buy balls and tees and those flapjacks that you can only buy in pro shops.
James: Is there ever anything good about a shotgun start? You have to walk two miles to tee off then have no idea where you are most of the round. Then your ‘halfway house’ stop is after about 15 holes by which time you’ve nearly died of dehydration.
Dan: Oh come on James. Cheer up, man. Isn’t it fun to enjoy a coffee and a sandwich with your fellow competitors beforehand, and what about the great atmosphere afterwards when you all get back in at the same time and can exchange stories of derring-do and what might have been. That’s got to be worth the minor inconvenience of a 10-minute walk with your friends in pleasant surroundings before you start, hasn’t it? I think these are first-world problems, petal.
Alex: I like them. There is nothing worse than getting to a golf day to find out it isn’t a shotgun start and you have one of the later tee times. It’s far too much time to be standing around and thinking about things. I’d much rather just be getting on with it – even if it means a long walk and the beginning and end of the round.
Mark: Don’t mind it. Feel like we’re all going into battle as one and it feels like I’m on a hamster’s wheel that we’re all turning. Given I’m 47 and have a moderate level of intelligence it does worry me though how much I think about which tee I’ll be starting from and how crucial that might be to how my day might pan out.
Whatever I get I’ll see it as a bad draw and I’ll probably inwardly moan about those lucky enough to start near the clubhouse.
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