While the world’s best players were getting used to Royal St George’s interesting bounces, the elite of golfing media - and me - were just round the corner at Prince’s to take part in something almost as quirky.
Cobra-Puma Golf’s Day Out of Bounds was 18 holes with a difference. Alongside me in my five-ball (see?) were Joel Tadman (Today’s Golfer), Paul O’Hagan (Golf Monthly), Geoff Pullen (Pro-Shop Europe) and Martin Hopley (Golfalot).
Hole 1 was called “Lucky 7”, where we had to play the entire hole with a 7-iron. Not the worst to start with, it’s one of my favourite clubs in the bag.
How I got on: Well, so I thought. I would be lying if I said I did anything other than duffing it. But it worked in my favour as I left myself a full 7-iron length in. The first part of the plan worked. The second didn’t. A lost ball and a penalty stroke later, and I was starting with nil points.
Hole 2 saw us attempt a Longest Drive into what felt like a seven-club wind. The fact the winning drive at the end of the day was just 250 yards says it all.
How I got on: Like three of my four playing partners, I attempted to split the ball into several pieces. Only one of us found the green and scored on this hole.
Hole 3 was suitably titled “The Monster”. The 613-yard par-5 sixth and the 196-yard par-3 seventh - and the bit in between - had been combined to form a 900-yard beast – for which we were given seven shots to complete.
How I got on: Finally learned how to play golf. My first good shot of the day with the driver was followed by two 3-woods - the second of which was most pleasing as Cobra-Puma staffer Johan Edfors was watching on (before showing me how it should be done). Still with 130 or so left, I found the green and two-putted for a very pleasing six. Finally on the board! My teammates also scored well here. High fives all round - and a patronising pat on the head for me...
We headed over to the beach for holes four and five – the first two of several team holes. We were handed a beer and offered our first sandy challenge, Hole 4, a 100-yard shot off a mat to a paddling pool.
How I got on: Managed to connect with the paddling pool on all three shots. None went in, though, and I was bailed out by teammates. Next.
Hole 5, and still on the beach. We had three shots from the sand into a ringed target area around 50-yards away.
How I got on: Next.
Hole 6 was “The Chipping Challenge”. We had to hit three chips, all from behind a vicious greenside bunker. There were two target rings which earned various points and extra for holing out.
How I got on: First chip just creeped into the first scoring zone. The second went straight into the bunker. But then, after these warm-ups, my third chip dropped just the other side of the sand before feeding down into the hole. Joel also holed out – the only two players to do so all day. Paul described my chip-in as “comfortably the best shot I’ve ever seen you play.” I didn’t know whether to be pleased or offended by this…
Hole 7 offered us one mulligan.
How I got on: After slightly over-egging my approach shot off the back of the green, I took a risk and used my free shot. It paid off, as I found the dancefloor and two-putted for par.
Hole 8 was probably the funniest hole of the day. We were handed a driver with a shaft no-longer than 15 inches. One-handed was the way of the day with this little club. We were allowed to play out the rest of the hole as normal!
How I got on: Remarkably, I was the only player who found the fairway. My four playing partners recovered well though and we all posted pars.
Hole 9 saw us head to the putting green for a lengthy putting competition. Again, a team event with three balls each and target rings to aim for.
How I got on: Managed to get one of my three in the scoring zone, which was cheekily places on the most undulating part of the practice area.
At the tee for Hole 10, we were required to pick a card from a deck. The card picked would determine which club we must use for the entirety of the hole.
How I got on: I picked the five of diamonds so, you guessed it, had to play the hole with a 5-iron. A crisp tee shot found the fairway and a crisper approach shot nestled 30-yards short. A bump and run up the hill went long and was followed by two “putts” for bogey.
Hole 11 was dubbed the “Speed Hole”. As a team, we had to get from tee to hole in the shortest time possible. The only real rule was we had to have four of our team on the green at the time of holing out.
How we got on: Paul played off the tee, pushed it way right. An immediate reload found the first cut. Martin was closest, so he played up to around the 50-yard mark. Joel chipped to around 10-feet where I was standing. A putt to within gimme range and all we had to do was wait for Martin to reach the green so we could tap-in and stop the clock. And relax...
Hole 12 was a simple Closest to the Pin. As simple as a Closest to the Pin challenge can be on a 194-yard par three into a fierce Kent gale. Only one of our team registered.
How I got on: And it wasn’t me...
Holes 13 through 18 saw teams taking on each other in a series of social holes, including table tennis, darts, foosball, roulette, craps and blackjack. Turns out our bar game skills are better than our golf skills.
Afterwards, a gentleman by the name of Ian Poulter showed up to demonstrate his trick-shot skills – which you can see a snippet of here.