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’ve been golfing with a friend called Jim for just
over 15 years. He’s not a particularly good golfer
but we met when we were both beginning and
we’ve played together ever since. One of the rather
remarkable things about Jimis that, although he almost
invariably finds his own ball, despite looking
intently, he never seems to find anyone else’s. Although
I have often wondered why it was, I have
never thought it especially significant. However, the
last time we played he lost a ball in the rough on
the 9th and I found it. What was strange was that it
had the identical markings to those that I put on
my ball, six small circles. Naively thinking that it
was just a coincidence, I subsequently noticed him
drop a blue tee peg while looking for an opponent’s
ball. Rather suspicious, I walked over and
followed the direction in which it was pointing and,
low and behold, there was our opponent’s ball.
What I suspect Jimis doing is finding balls, saying
nothing,marking the spot and then returning later
to pick them up. I want to tell him that I know what
his little game is but, because it’s so embarrassing,
I can’t bring myself to confront him, which is what
I know I should do.
GEOFF ANDERSON, NEWPORT PAGNELL
Jim’s behaviour is quite despicable and
must be stopped forthwith. Because, as you
rightly say, it’s so embarrassing, you must
find a subtle way of letting him know that
you have rumbled his contemptible thieving.
What I suggest you do is pick a few balls
that you don’t mind losing and write on
them “Jim stole this ball” and, the next time
you play together, spray them all over the
course. He only has to find one to get the
message. If that fails, you can always adopt
spoiling tactics and drops handfuls of teepegs
in the vicinity of every lost ball.
I read a splendid article in this magazine a few
months ago (I think it was written byClive Agran)
about the joys of playing on your own. I heartily endorse
the sentiments he expressed.However, there
is one aspect to solo golf that disturbsme and that is
theway two, three and fourballs habitually ignore a
lone golfer behind. It only takes amoment or two to
step aside and let a single through, sowhy don’t
they? The problemis that singletons are seemingly
afforded no rightswhatsoever on the golf course.
This appalling situation is neatly summarised in the
offensive phrase, “Single players have no standing.” I
firmly believe that such a doctrine represents a gross
violation ofmy inalienable human rights. Last Thursday
evening a fourball heldme up – and another
solo player behindme – for over four hours and I
amproposing to pursue a test case against them
(Dewhurst versus Atkinson, Fairweather,Black and
Entwhistle, ex parte theRoyal and AncientGolf
Club) if necessary, all theway to the European Court
of Human Rights.
REGINALD DEWHURST, CAMBRIDGE
Golf, especially in this country, has a remarkable
record for ignoring what those
outside the game would regard as correct behaviour.
Women and the less well off in particular
have for centuries suffered the most
appalling discrimination and been denied
what we might today regard as equal rights.
Those who support the unsupportable do so
to protect their own self interest. Unenlightened,
middle-aged, middle-class, white men
not unnaturally want to preserve their privileges.
However, although I sympathise with
your predicament and understand how frustrating
it must be to be stuck behind slow
players who choose to ignore you, I’m not
sure that you will be able to convince the
courts that your human rights have been violated.
In the incident you cite, why didn’t
you join up with the guy behind, play though
the fourball and then split up again immediately
afterwards? Even if that strategy
would have obliged you to play a hole or two
with someone else, I think you’ll find that, in
the long run, it will prove to have been a lot
less stressful and expensive that pursuing
your case all the way to Strasbourg.
I’m a retired dentistwho recently accepted a parttime
job at a golf club as a starter. After 35 years it’s
a real pleasure to be doing something that isn’t incredibly
stressful.However, I have a problemthat
youmight be able to helpmewith. It’s simple really,
should I or should I notwatch players tee off the
first?My instincts tellme that I should butwhen, as
very frequently happens, a player hits a dreadful
shot, he or she invariably turns and stares atme as if
it’s my fault for watching. Not watching, however,
strikes me as rude.
P MCARTHUR, DUNDONALD
Curiously, my instinct tells me that you
shouldn’t watch because, as with traffic accidents,
watching suggests an unhealthy interest
in observing the misfortune of others.
However, I can see that not watching could
be construed as disinterest. May I therefore
suggest that you watch while appearing not
to be watching. Then, on those rare occasions
when someone hits a decent drive, you
can say, “Good shot!” If they don’t, you can
be looking the other way and apparently
getting on with something else when they inevitably
turn around reproachfully.
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine