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.
I live in Dubai and was left devastated by
events last weekend. Competing in the
Gourmet Golf Day at Saadiyat Beach Golf
Club, I managed to navigate the distractions
of miniature Wagyu beef burgers, Peking
Duck rolls and chilled glasses of Riesling to
post a career-best total of 27 Stableford
points, a score that I felt certain would put
me in the frame for some silverware. But horror
of all horrors, I was denied my first ever
podium finish in a glutonous Middle East corporate
golf day by the beastly system known
as countback and was pipped at the post by a
rival with a marginally stronger back nine of
13 points as against my 12. Distraught at
missing out on an ornamental hookah, I was
unable to enjoy my lobster and venison buffet.
Why should golfers be rewarded for finishing
their round better than they started it?
Surely one should treat fast starts that eventually
peter out with greater respect than woeful
beginnings that partially redeem themselves
in the latter stages. After all, as you
know, it’s much easier to play well after you
have thrown your round away than it is to
protect a score. So after posting 15 points on
the front nine, who can blame me if I was a
little gun-shy over the odd two-footer? Why
should some hacker who limped out in 14
points get the hubble-bubble pipe and not I?
Robert Greenfield, Dubai
Although I have some sympathy for you,
the tie-breaking system of which you complain
merely reflects the somewhat arbitrary
nature of the game itself. The wellworn
cliché, “Golf was never meant to be
fair” would seem to apply here. Instead of
feeling bitter, try and put your unfortunate
experience alongside other injustices. For
example, Roberto De Vincenzo’s incorrect
recording of a four on the 17th when he
actually had a birdie three at Augusta in
the 1968 US Masters cost him a place in
the play-off. And last year in your part of
the world there was Padraig Harrington’s
notorious disqualification in Abu Dhabi for
not noticing that his ball had wobbled on
the green. I hope putting yourself in such
illustrious company will soften the pain of
I’m 50 and have never won anything playing
golf. The compass I was given for “Playing
the Most Golf” in a Captain’s day some time
ago doesn't count – winning it still annoys
me. I enthusiastically support all my local golf
events and club competitions but to no avail.
It’s not the wearied contempt of my wife
which rankles but the continued disappointment
of Simon, my son. “Playing in another
competition, Dad? Good luck. It must be our
turn soon.” It’s heart rending. I’ve thought
about telling him I’ve won when I haven’t but
I can almost, but can’t quite, lie to him.
Anyway, I’m not sure I can handle seeing his
sad face the next time I inevitably return
home empty handed.
Wally Lambert, Tunbridge Wells
Then you mustn’t come home empty handed.
Not unnaturally you want your son to
look upon you as a winner and the contemptuous
attitude of your wife might
change if you started delivering the goodies.
You say you can’t lie to him and I respect
that but there is a way of guaranteeing
prizes without actually lying. If you’re not
already familiar with it, you must go on
eBay’s website and understand how it
works. Basically, you submit bids and if
yours is the winning bid then you ‘win’ the
item. That is precisely the terminology that
eBay uses. Since eBay has everything from
ghastly glass trophies to iPads, all you have
to do is choose the prize you would most like
to bring home, submit the highest bid and
then you can honestly tell your son (and
your wife) that you ‘won’ the item.
I’ve just married the most beautiful and lovely
woman in the world. Not only is she absolutely
gorgeous, but she also plays golf. Although
I couldn’t be happier, there is one serious
problem… her mother. Despite also being a
golfer, she is just about the most unpleasant
person I’ve ever come across. Partly because
I think she really struggles to find people who
will play with her, she wants a game with me.
If we play, I know for certain that we’ll have a
huge row and it’ll end in tears but how on
earth can I say no?
Andrew Griffin, Lossiemouth
You don’t say no. Look, if she’s as horrible
as you say she is you are never going to
enjoy a pleasant relationship with your
mother-in-law. So you should have a game
of golf with her and allow the inevitable row
to completely rupture relations between you
so that you aren’t even talking to one another.
You see, for the modest cost of three-anda-
half unpleasant hours you will be able to
look forward to a lifetime of comparative
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine