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.
My left leg is shorter than my right. Samantha,
the physiotherapist who is endeavouring to
sort me out, says it’s a consequence of a rather
violent swing that sees me driving my weight
aggressively through to my left side on impact.
Frankly, it’s less of a problem on the tee than it
is on the fairway. Second shots are even more
difficult if the ground slopes the wrong way
and exacerbates the unevenness of my alignment.
Samantha is a lovely woman but she
knows nothing about golf. To give you some
idea, she has even suggested that I play lefthanded
until the imbalance is corrected.
Roger Redfield, Carlisle
Although my expertise is principally with
the mental rather than physical aspects of
the game, I may nevertheless be able to help.
Samantha is quite correct in seeking to alter
your swing but a little unreasonable in
expecting you to switch to being left-handed.
A more realistic adjustment might be to
adopt the ‘stack and tilt’ style which, since
you start with the weight firmly on the left
side, reduces the damaging effect of the
power shift caused by weight transference.
(A letter to the Editor suggesting a more
thorough analysis of the technique might be
helpful). Meanwhile, you should favour
courses where the fairways predominantly
slope left to right as you look at them from
the tee, as these will tend to mitigate the pull
shot that a lower left side will tend to produce.
You have the advantage of living in
an area that enjoys a great deal of hilly terrain
and you should read Terrence
Hackett’s excellent little book, “A Guide to the
Sloping Fairways of Great Britain” and
carefully study its detailed course-by-course
To give you some idea of how indecisive I am,
I’ve changed my mind no fewer than 14 times
regarding whether or not I should write to you.
Doubtless by the time I’ve finished this letter, I
will have changed my mind several more
times. The specific problem about which I
would welcome your advice, I think, is the difficulty
I experience trying to decide which shirt
to wear when I’m on a golf holiday. Each year
eight of us go away together and the other
seven sit in the hotel lobby most mornings
waiting for me to make up my mind which
shirt to put on. Last year we twice missed our
tee time because of me and my inability to
decide. The other seven guys have threatened
not to take me with them this year unless I
promise not to delay them in the morning.
P J Murray, Porthcawl
I used to think indecision was a big problem
but now I’m not so sure. Just kidding. It is a
serious problem which, in your case, must
be addressed. Your inability to decide which
shirt to wear is aggravated by the fact that
your friends are waiting impatiently downstairs.
Their eagerness to set off for the golf
course dramatically increases the pressure
on you, which in turn makes a decision
even harder to make. What you must therefore
do is adjust your routine so that at the
time you have to make a decision about
which shirt to wear, there is very little pressure
on you. I suggest you put on a fresh
shirt for dinner and wear that same shirt
for golf the following day. In that way, you
will be choosing your shirt when you are
unhurried and unflustered.
My problem began in the third round of my
club’s Atkinson Trophy, which is the blue ribbon
tournament for high handicappers.
Although playing rather erratically, I was nevertheless
one up on my opponent with two holes
to play when, horror of horrors, I dumped my
ball in the lake on the 17th. If that wasn’t bad
enough, to my considerable consternation, I
realised that I had run out of balls. Rather
unkindly, my opponent refused to lend me any
and there followed a rather frantic five minutes
during which I searched in the rough for a ball,
any ball, while my opponent just stared at his
watch before announcing “time up” and leaving
me with no alternative other than to concede
the match. From that moment on, I
began taking more and more balls out with
me. My bag grew so heavy, I couldn’t carry it.
Then the trolley I hired buckled and I had to
reimburse the pro £75. After my last round, I
emptied my bag and counted over 250 balls.
David Ashforth, Cirencester
A fear of running out of golf balls is not
uncommon, especially in a case such as
yours where there has been an awful trauma.
I presume you are stuffing balls into
every orifice in your bag. Like any addict,
you must be gradually weaned off. Before
your next game, either seal off one of the
compartments in your bag or stuff it full of
waterproofs, bananas, etc., so that there’s
absolutely no room left for even one golf
ball. Repeat the exercise the following time
you play but this time stuff two pockets full
of anything but golf balls. Continue the
process until there’s only one pocket containing
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine