Last week I played golf at the splendid Costa Navarino resort near Kalamata in the Peloponnese region of  Southern Greece. I was a guest in a pro-am, invited by Matthias, an Austrian friend of mine. I have previously blogged about my two holes-in-one, achieved within the space of less than 10 months during 2014/5 at a time when hitting a green seemed a miracle, let alone finding the bottom of the cup without using my putter. This is about two shots last week which just got away.

The first belonged to another player in our group, Norbert, who is German. In the photo below you can see the result of his handiwork on the 8th hole of the Dunes Course, which measures 190 yards from the tee we were using. What do you reckon? One revolution from going in?


So near and yet so far…Norbert’s tee shot on the 8th at Costa Navarino was agonisingly close to an ace

My golf mostly varied between shocking and beyond shocking. I did have the time-honoured excuse that I was using clubs which were not my own, and I never could get the hang of the putter. (In fact, neither of the two of them which I tried.) But there was one moment of comparative glory. The 7th hole on the Bay Course, which we played as the 16th, measures 152 yards. I took a 6-iron, hit it sort of rubbish, left of where I was aiming, but when the ball landed it followed the contours of first the fairway and then the green and it rolled up to within a foot of the flag. It wasn’t quite as close a call as Norbert’s had been but from the tee Matthias thought it might have gone in. Under a low evening sun and with my eyesight, I hadn’t got a clue.

The pro in our group, Emanuele Canonica, formerly the longest-hitter on the European Tour (who is Italian; despite the mix of nationalities, I think we only discussed Brexit about half the time), said: “Can you teach me how to hit that shot, Robert?” I think he was joking. I duly made the birdie putt – it was never anywhere but the edge of the hole – to give a misleading gloss to my overall performance. On the plus side, however, I met Bill Murray, star of many films including Caddyshack, released in 1980 but still probably the best movie ever made about golf. That compensated for at least some of the three-putts.

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