I was in the bar at Portarlington, on Sunday, and Stephen was pointing to the circular scar that sits almost dead centre in his forehead. It's about three inches above his eye and a couple more inches from his temple. What could have been is not something you dwell on! As a result, the club erected netting (which is how we'd got onto the subject, since netting is a rich topic of conversation at my home club of Greystones).
[The beautiful par three 3rd]
Myself and Stephen, who I encountered through the golf forum on www.boards.ie, were playing in the Junior Scratch Cup. In the bar, we decided that we would not be bragging about our day's golfing exploits. Indeed, it was only when I got home that I found my scorecard in the boot - best place for it. Yes, there was some fine golf - Stephen even birdied the 1st - but most of it was played by the third member of our group, Ken, from Athy Golf Club. Two years ago he was off 17, now he's off 7.
[Photo: the River Barrow runs along the right on the 16th]
He has taken a lot of lessons and not only have they produced results, but they've also created a very elegant swing. After he four-putted the 1st he ran off a string of eight pars, only to later collapse on the 16th when he put a ball in the River Barrow and triple-bogeyed. It was a disappointing end - but one I can relate to as I did exactly the same thing a couple of months ago.
There are always stories of near misses, and most golfers will have some hair-raising story to tell - I'm sure you have your own - but I'll leave you with this more light-hearted thought: While playing on Sunday, I hit two good balls. I stepped on a rake!
Just got your book the other day. Amazing detail, well done. I thought i was good playing 32 rounds on 32 courses in 32 consecutive days but you probably have me. Would love to sit down and have a pint and chat with you sometime.
Donal Hughes, Irish Examiner Golf Columnist. e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org