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 DR FELIX SHANK

Do you have a golf problem that’s keeping you awake at night?
Is there some aspect of your game that you simply can’t sort out?
Stop worrying because Dr Felix Shank, a more or less genuine expert on all aspects of the game, is here to help.
Illustrations by Tony Husband.

Because when it comes to buying birthday and Christmas presents my friends and family have no imagination whatsoever, I have literally dozens and dozens of golf balls, many of which are of a type I would never use anyway. I reckon I could play at least half-a-dozen rounds, lose a couple of balls on every hole and still have plenty left. In truth, because I’m a scratch golfer, I hardly ever lose a ball! Anyway, whenever I play in one of my club’s competitions and pay my entry fee, the pro is always harassing me to enter the ‘2s’ ball sweep and says things like, “What’s the matter, are you frightened of having a punt?” It’s only five pounds but I don’t earn very much and the very last thing I need is more golf balls.

ALEXANDER KITT, CLEETHORPES

Scratch golfers are something like four times more likely to record a two during a round than someone with a handicap of 10 and eight times more likely than someone with a handicap of 18. So, from a purely statistical point of view, the ‘2s’ ball sweep is a very good bet for a golfer of your ability.

However, I take your point that you don’t need any more balls. However, you have a lot of balls of the wrong make that you will never use. Well, here’s a chance to sort of ‘ethnically cleanse’ them. Say to your pro that, rather than pay £2, you will put up a sleeve of your balls against a sleeve or his. Since a sleeve of balls, irrespective of the make, is worth more than £2, you feel entitled to ask that, if you win, he should give you the ball you use. If he declines, you can legitimately get him off your back by saying, “What’s the matter, are you frightened of having a punt?”

I own a comparatively small company that manufactures golf trolley wheels. We hosted a golf day recently to which I invited one of my best clients, who brought along his 19-yearold son Vincent to make up the four. Although a decent enough player, Vincent only came in on a couple of holes and was, I thought, rather flattered by his five handicap. Anyway, his father has since informed me that Vincent is going to turn pro shortly and is hoping to play on the Europro Tour, the Challenge Tour and eventually the European Tour. He told me this before inviting me to sponsor him. Although his father thinks he is going to win half-a-dozen majors, Vincent has about as much chance of succeeding as a professional golfer as I have of winning a beauty contest. However, his dad buys a lot of wheels from me and so I can’t see how I can say no.

J G BLENKINSOP, MELTON MOWBRAY

Since you have not enclosed a photograph of yourself in a bikini it’s hard for me to assess Vincent’s chances of success! However, assuming they’re minimal, let me make a suggestion. Tell his father that you would love to support Vincent and have drawn up a list of bonus payments that you believe will give the boy the greatest incentive to succeed. Suggest you’ll pay him, say, £1000 for every top five finish he achieves on the Europro Tour, £2000 for every top five finish on the Challenge Tour and £5000 for every top five finish on the European Tour. Multiply each figure by 10 for every win he achieves on the respective tours and £100,000 for every major and you’ll appear very generous. Then just hope to God he doesn’t improve dramatically otherwise you might have to sell the business to finance his bonuses!

Every summer I, my wife and two children go on holiday to the highlands of Scotland with my sister’s family. Her children are the same age as ours and everybody gets on really well. Part of the tradition is that I play a golf match against my brother-in-law, Simon, who is a very successful investment banker. We don’t play for money but the loser has to cook dinner in our cottage the evening after the match and also choose a course and make all the arrangements for the following year’s encounter. Simon has won every year for the last five years and I’ve grown a bit weary of being mercilessly teased by everyone, including my own children. One of the reasons I lose is that Simon is talking on his blasted mobile phone for most of the round, which irritates me enormously and upsets my equilibrium. I’ve asked him to switch the thing off but he claims it’s vital for his business that he stays in touch with his office the whole time. Even on courses where mobiles are banned, he refuses to switch the thing off.

DAVID NICHOLLS, BURNLEY

Mobile phones are an absolute curse and I sympathise enormously with your predicament. By ringing your brother at night when his phone will hopefully be switched off or by researching the first half of his number, you must establish which network he’s with. The highlands of Scotland are a fairly remote part of the UK and mobile phone coverage is patchy. Go to mobilephonecoverage. co.uk and you will see the areas in which his phone won’t pick up a signal.

Simply choose a course in one of these for your next match and the chances are Simon will be so agitated by the dreadfully unfortunate fact that he can’t speak to his office that you will comfortably beat him and won’t have to either cook dinner or put up with any teasing.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

 
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