In my last confession I ended by wondering whether my father had been right about golf being “a good walk spoiled”. On the laws of averages, I suppose he must have been right about one thing – apart from ‘children should be seen and not heard’ and maybe this was it.
I had had a particularly bad run at The Lion’s Lair where I’d hit about seven shots in a row when the ball dribbled about twenty yards along the ground. It was one of life’s major crisis points when a fundamental decision has to be made. You know the sort of thing. What career should I follow? Which country should I live in? Which woman should I marry? Steak and kidney pie or chicken and mushroom?
I decided I would have to have a golf lesson. After a bit of research (what did we do before t’internet?) I booked myself a half hour lesson sufficiently far ahead that I needn’t worry about it…
As the great day of the first lesson got near I had what I call MCWCS**. You may have come across this sort of thing yourself. After a lot of heart (and cash) searching a decision is made to have a cleaner. I have yet to meet a man who has a problem with this providing his stuff is left exactly as it is. It may look a complete mess but everything is in perfect order, honestly. You can tell however when the cleaner’s about to come because a woman will go around cleaning like a demented dervish so the house is clean enough for the cleaner. Baffling, in my view. However, such was my anxiety that the golf professional would never have had such an imbecilic, incompetent, cack-handed pupil as me, that I started practising with manic urgency.
It so happened that the weekend before, I was away visiting some old friends and their adult children who lived nearby came over for a barbecue on the Sunday. At this point I should say there are only two ways in which I’m not a complete alpha male. One is in my prowess at golf and the other is my hatred of barbecues. On this occasion it was made worse because it was a gas barbecue… What is the point of carting everything outside and cooking stuff, either freezing to death or getting lobster red in a heat wave, suffering in the toilet in the early hours because the chicken wasn’t quite cooked when you have a gas cooker indoors?
So I was looking for something to while away the time and spied a barely used set of golf clubs in the conservatory and was happily putting a few balls on the lawn when adult son, Nick, who happens, unknown to me, to be a golf fiend gave me an impromptu golf lesson. Somehow, both his three year old daughter and five year old Boxer survived and I learned a couple of things – the equivalent of shoving the newspaper down your trousers before you have to go and see the headmaster.
So, Monday afternoon arrived and I had DS***. You know when you have awful toothache and it takes some time to get a dental appointment? On the way to the dentist the toothache disappears for the first time in days and when you get there you can’t remember which tooth hurt… Well, it was a bit like that.
The nice young man told me to go and warm up by hitting a few balls on the driving range and he’d come along in a moment. Suddenly I was hitting balls further and more consistently than ever before. If you wanted to be very critical you could say I was hooking quite a few but my dramatic improvement made me wonder if I could quietly slip out the back… At this point the nice young man came along and told me to hit the balls off the ground and not off the fixed tee… Spoilsport. I put away the 5 iron and used the 8 iron but even hitting them off the ground most of them went in the air a fair distance and some of them were (almost) straight. What a miracle worker!
He then gave me a lesson, which was a combination of A level Mechanics and Human Biology to explain the golf swing. He’d lost me after about ten seconds but I kept nodding sagaciously. It turned out my grip is wrong which means my left arm is bent which, in turn, means my swing isn’t straight and that, combined with my placing my feet so that the ball was too close to my left foot (are you following this?) means I am hitting the ground before the ball. I was shown how to hold the club so it felt unnatural and uncomfortable which appealed to my normal ‘if it’s not hurting it’s not working’ philosophy and to position my feet so that the ball was nearer my right rather than left foot when using irons.
But will it work? Will the series have to re-named: Confessions of a Golf Professional?? South Leeds waits on tenterhooks…
** Middle Class Woman Cleaner Syndrome
*** Dentist Syndrome