Which hole sends a shiver down your spine?
We’ve all got a bogey hole. Generally it’s at your home course, but it could be anywhere.
Growing up at Wimbledon Park it was the 300-yard 1st. With a car park and various trees stopping you taking on the green, it should have been decades of a 5-iron and a flick.
Instead it was a variety of approach shots from the 18th fairway on the opposite side from the car park, bunting it out sideways from behind one of two giant trees, and generally coming up short as something really overhit will end up on the Home Park Road.
I have a memory in the ‘Home Internationals’ of piping one into the left-hand rough on 18 and also of screaming a couple into the car park before scuttling straight to the 2nd tee in around 1985.
I only once made a birdie in a medal. That came about after snap-hooking a wedge, rebounding my Tour Edition off the wall and then holing one from off the green.
I haven’t been back for maybe 20 years but I know, as sure as night follows day, that I’ll most likely start with a six.
These days my biggest golfing headache comes at another opening hole and not even where I am a member. The par-5 1st at Moortown measures 488 yards off the back tees and should represent a gentle introduction of what is to come.
My debut round at the one-time Ryder Cup venue was a fourball with friends in 2007. Over-excitement at finally playing at a course where I have a very vivid memory of DJ Russell winning the Car Care Plan International on Sunday Grandstand in 1985, at 1-over par, and Sandy Lyle breaking new ground by donning some maroon waterproofs meant I went left.
Wayward balls, probably piped, from the practice ground slowed my progress in playing another shot and I made my way up the left side of the hole in small instalments before noting down 7 on the scorecard.
My next four visits involved a lot of chipping en route to a blob, two standard bogeys from within 100 yards of the green, and then some ditch trouble. If you’ve played Moortown you might not be able to picture a ditch, that’s because it sits around 25 yards over the green. It’s not in play unless you leave yourself in the kill zone and but then scream your wedge into the hazard.
From there I attempted to play one off one leg, then sideways before re-emerging slightly discombobulated, covered in some weird tree dust and one down.
I have a single memory of a flushed driver but that then rolled out into the ditch. I made six.
My most recent visit, another fourball but in the company of a new face and a pro, brought about a new low. In a left-to-right zephyr my old bones failed to produce a committed swing and the ball began to arc towards some gorse, the same bushes that had played on my mind so heavily the first time I tugged one up the left a decade ago, and there was that awkward silence when nobody wanted to confirm that it hadn’t come up short or flown the shrubbery, rather that it was likely right in the middle of it.
So, instead of making small talk and attempting to befriend my new playing partner, I spent far too long in the middle of a gorse bush. The other three players were dots on the horizon by the time I had crawled out on my hands and knees with nine balls but none of them mine.
It was far too late to drop one down and waft a couple of loose irons before making my excuses so I then had to waddle my way through 100 yards of rough, with my nine new balls now becoming a hindrance rather than some sort of consolation before catching up on events on the green.
We lost the hole to a par.