Ten strokes off

by Jon Herd

This story is part of our 'Embarrassing Golf Stories' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our travel writing competition.

Photo by Charlie Brewer.


It was a gorgeous day, perfect golf weather, and I had been promised a lesson by an old timer on the course. Old Ted was a magical striker of the ball in his day.

The course we played on was beautiful. Close to town and surrounded by wetlands with wide fairways and many ponds and dams.

The ducks love the dams down near the wetlands and often come out to watch a game or two. We hit off the first, a par four, and I was not too shabby (for once).

Down the long par five second, and, let’s just say I was playing to my handicap. The short par on the third is over water, and any water is like a magnet to my golf balls.

My first ball sailed high and left but unfortunately not long, and splodged right in the middle of the pond. The second shot cleared the water, and the green as well. I could have sworn those ducks were laughing. They must have seen me play before because none of them budged off the green.

Through the first three holes I was badgering Ted about when I was to receive his famous lesson. "Ten strokes off," I reminded him.

On he played and on I toiled. I must admit that old Ted still had a beautiful swing. Slower than he used to be, but still elegant. Not a long hitter anymore, he was at least fairly straight, and still did better than bogey golf. I currently aspire to bogey golf, and I was convinced that after today’s lesson, below bogey will be possible.

Now Ted wasn't doing this for free, by the way. Oh, he puts himself about as the gentleman golfer, but this lesson had so far cost me four schooners and a carton his favourite.

Anyway, despite my ability to hit a ball sideways, vertically, anyway but forward, I was enjoying having a hit with Ted.

The day stayed lovely, I had my ups and downs, played reasonably well for me and watched Ted’s swing like a hawk. It’s got to be the swing, I was thinking.

As we got to the 18th "You have the honour," I said. (I actually had the honour twice so far, a minor miracle in itself). The eighteenth is a medium par four, wide, straight as a die, and with a small rise in the middle. You can’t see the green from the tee, but you don’t have to. The green is hard to miss even for someone like me.

He belted it straight down the middle.

"You want your lesson now?" he said to me.

"Yes", I replied, "about time!"

I teed up, Ted walked over to me.

He said, "You want ten strokes off your game, right?"

I said, "Yeah".

He pointed down the fairway and said… "Well hit ‘em down the middle, son!"

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