Post by Rikki White.
I can’t think of any game other than golf where people of widely differing abilities can have a needle match, and thereby hangs a tale.
It was some eight or nine years ago that my other half and I discovered Patshull Park. The big attraction was the lake view rooms on offer, as well as terms that appealed, and a golf course with majestic trees courtesy of Capability Brown. On arrival, binoculars at the ready, we made a beeline for the balcony. We were not alone, as standing on the adjacent balcony was a slender, silver haired chap also surveying the landscape. It seemed only polite to pass the time of day and he was most affable. Alas, he and his wife were about to leave the next morning for their home in Aberdeenshire, but he did sing loud and clear the praises of Patshull Park.
After a five day stay, we had to agree with him that this was a break worth repeating, so we duly fixed up to spend a further five days the following year at roughly the same time. Come the end of July we found ourselves in the same room on the same balcony and, would you believe, the same neighbour. And to keep the pattern going, he was again leaving the next morning, so our acquaintance was rather brief. However, when we returned to our room after dinner, there was a note pushed under our door suggesting we synchronise our visits the following year and play a bit of golf together. We readily agreed and fixed up some suitable dates.
Over the year we kept in contact by e-mail, a bit of news about the weather and a few golf jokes and looked forward to the rendezvous with our new friends, who we had now established were Pat and Peter.
At this stage no mention had been made of our respective handicaps. My husband and I are longish handicappers, being past our best, which was never all that impressive, and we had no indication that our new playing partners were a lot different. A very pleasant looking couple with nothing to suggest that we were about to take on a golfing maestro and his wife, whose appearance gave no hint of the power she could generate and a short game to die for.
Peter played off 5 and Pat 12. “Oops”, we thought, “what have we here?” Humiliation probably. At our own club, players of this standard are looking for playing partners nearer their own ability. However, we were in at the deep end and we had to do our best. Fortunately, we had wisely made no mention of money changing hands on the result. We decided to play every man for himself, full handicap, on the Stableford system, adding up the daily scores to find a winner.
The first hole at Patshull Park is a par 4 for the men and a par 5 for the ladies. The White team and Pat each had a shot and Peter didn’t. He got a 4 and the rest of us bogeys – even Steven. The second hole is a par 3 and we all did rather well and scored two points each – perhaps this wasn’t going to be too bad after all. Our spirits were raised and humour started to enter the conversation.
Peter did reach the par 5s generally in 2 strokes but we sometimes had 2 shots when he had none, so he didn’t soar ahead out of sight, though I have to say he is something of a bandit in that more often than not he played below his handicap, and I feel we should have invoked clause 19, but it gave us a degree of pleasure to watch such expertise. The other three of us fought it out tooth and nail and generally our scores were very close at the end of the day.
As a group our days were full of laughter and we decided to make this an annual event. Peter usually wins, but we did give him a hammering the year he had a hip replacement, though he made a rapid return to first place the following year.
Patshull Park Hotel has become a home from home. The staff remain pretty much the same year after year and always make us feel they have been looking forward to seeing us as much as we look forward to our annual get together. Had we worried too much about the differences in handicap, we would never have forged this fine friendship.