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 watched the
drama of the Ryder
Cup unfold on Sky
in amazement and
awe. What the
achieved at Medinah
was simply phenomenal.
And then, when it was all
over, I asked myself what
lessons I could learn
from it that would
help my game.
inspiration was critical
and so I persuaded
my wife to sew that distinctive
Seve logo onto the sleeve of my
favourite blue golf shirt. I then wore it for my
club’s October mid-week Stableford and kissed
it moments before topping my opening tee
shot. Never mind, I recovered quite well, got
up and down in three for a solid bogey at the
first and turned with a steady 14 points.
Despite spending most of the time I wasn’t
looking for my ball either staring at my sleeve
or looking up to the heavens for help, I still
managed only 25 points which, although not
disastrous, wasn’t the sort of inspirational
score I was expecting.
L Vardy, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leics.
Whereas role models are not a bad thing
and can, indeed, provide inspiration, it’s
essential not to overlook the importance of
technique. My suggestion is that you combine
the two by logging on to
Amazon and purchasing one
of several copies they have
of “Seve Ballesteros: The
Short Game - The Ultimate
I took up golf 15 years ago when
it was suggested to me that exercise
would help me deal with a
mild phobia I was developing to
stripes in general and striped
wallpaper in particular. Yes, I
know it sounds bizarre and irrational
but that’s how it is with
phobias. Frankly, I never
quite got the hang of the
game but it undoubtedly
helped me deal with my
problem. Then, about a
year ago, a playing partner
asked why I would
carry on looking for balls
even after I had found
mine. Although a little
strange, perhaps, I told him
that there was nothing
intrinsically wrong in it.
However, more recently my
wife has pointed out that
I’m always looking for golf
balls. In restaurants, at the
supermarket, on the train,
in our living room… wherever
I am, apparently, I look
for golf balls. I even shift furniture and
ask people to stand up if I think they’re sitting
on a golf ball. My wife tells me
that it’s intolerably embarrassing.
Other than on the course,
I never find any but that
doesn’t stop me looking. It’s
a real problem.
David K Browne, Stranraer
You obviously belong to that
personality type that is particularly
prone to irrational fears
and compulsive behaviour.
Clearly, your obsessive ball
searching must stop. I suggest
you either buy a quantity of second-
hand balls from a driving
range or persuade your wife to paint
stripes on some of your practice balls.
Whichever it is, she should then
hide them about the house.
You will doubtless find
them and be disturbed by
the stripes. This ‘aversion
therapy’ should cure you of
the habit but be careful not
to continue with it for too
long otherwise you might find
that you’re reluctant to even
look for a ball on the course for
fear of it being striped.
Persuaded by my wife to find
a hobby, I took up golf when
I was 28. As with a lot of other
people, I was soon gripped and
found myself playing three, four or
even five times a week. Compared with golf,
work was rather dull and I wasn’t therefore too
upset when I lost my well-paid job as a salesman
because my boss said I spent too much
time on the course and not enough on the
phone to customers. Anyway, I soon found
work as an evening barman, which was perfect
in that it left me free to play golf during the
day. My wife then suddenly and inexplicably
left me after 12 years of marriage claiming I
loved golf more than her. Again, I wasn’t as
devastated as I thought I would have been as it
meant I could play at weekends and in more
club competitions. I didn’t marry again and my
handicap tumbled to 13, but never got lower.
Now aged 57, I suddenly feel as if I’ve wasted
my life. My handicap now is 17 and steadily
creeping up, and all I’ve got to show for all
those years of hitting balls is a solitary hole in
one and a manual trolley
for nearest the
pin on captain’s
day in 1992. If it
weren’t for the fact
that my putting touch
seems to be returning,
I’d feel inclined to end
my useless life.
A R Ashforth,
You are, of course, displaying
symptoms of a mid-life
crisis, which is not
unusual in players with
your moderate handicap.
You are, in effect,
belatedly ‘mourning’ your lost job and wife.
However, instead of regarding the time
you’ve spent playing golf as miss-spent, you
should look upon that period of your life
between the ages of about 11 to 28 as the
wasted years. Think, if only you had taken
up the game a lot earlier, you might have
made it to single figures. Still, you achieved
a hole in one, which is a great deal more
than a lot of golfers and in many ways
harder to accomplish than a successful
career or happy family life. You might also
care to reflect on the fact that very few people
on their deathbed regret not having
spent more time in the office and be grateful
that you discovered golf, albeit a little too
late to ever get really good at it.
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine