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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’m director of the Institute for Research into Psychic Phenomena and would like to draw your attention to a study that we recently undertook concerning golf which we believe is very significant. Interested in whether or not the much maligned exhortation, ‘Get in the hole’ has any effect on the ball, we conducted a fascinating experiment.We gave three professional golfers 250 balls and asked then to try and pitch them into a golf hole 75 yards away. They undertook the exercise twice - once in complete silence (the control) and once with a single spectator simply shouting ‘Get in the hole’ each time the golfer struck the ball. Remarkably, all three professionals had greater success the second time around which would seem to suggest that there is indeed something to be said for shouting encouragement even after the ball has been struck.We shall shortly be conducting similar experiments using various different balls to see if the manufacturers’ claims that some balls are more ‘responsive’ than others are borne out by the facts.


Another school of thought would probably argue that the reason your three professionals enjoyed greater success the second time had something to do with them having already had 250 practice shots. May I therefore propose that it would be slightly more ‘scientific’ if the occasions when the spectator shouted ‘Get in the hole’ were random. But if you believe in psychic phenomena in general and extra sensory perception in particular, you probably already knew that I was going to suggest that.

I’m 25 years old and, although I’ve only been playing golf for three years, my handicap is already down to five. I attribute much of my success to my excellent pitching, which I practice daily in my back garden. Because my lawn is 60 yards wide and 80 yards long, I’m extraordinarily good at pitching the ball precisely 60 yards and 80 yards. However, if I’m ever to achieve my ambition of getting down to scratch, I sincerely believe that I need one more precision pitch shot of, say, 100 yards. Because I’m so determined, I’m even prepared to move to a house with a bigger garden but my fiancée says she likes where we live and will “re-examine our relationship” if I put our house on the market. I feel I’m having to choose between golf and my fiancée.


You are evidently unfamiliar with the work of Pythagoras. Although not a teaching pro, he can help you with your problem. He simply stated that the square of the length of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares of the lengths of the other two sides. So, if you drew a line diagonally across your lawn it would in effect be the hypotenuse of the two identical triangles that it will have created. It therefore matters not which triangle you take since both will have one side that’s 60 yards, another that’s 80 yards and a hypotenuse, the length of which we must calculate. Squaring the two sides gives us 3,600 and 6,400. Adding those two together produces precisely 10,000. The square root of 10,000 is 100, which means the length of the hypotenuse in your back garden is 100 yards. In other words, if you pitch balls diagonally from one corner of your garden to the other that will be a shot of exactly 100 yards.

Because some 25 years ago I came to the rather depressing conclusion that golf is essentially a rather futile activity, I decided that I would give it some purpose. At the time,mymostly paved back garden was a horriblemess and so I resolved to turf it.However, because I spent allmy spare cash on travelling around the country playing the very best golf courses, I didn’t have any left to spend on a lawn. And so I decided that I would bring back a largish divot fromevery course I played and create a lawn that way. About 75 square yards and containing grass ‘farmed’ fromover 250 of our finest courses, it’s now complete. Although rathermottled in appearance, it is nevertheless a historic lawn over which, I believe, have walked most, if not all, golf’s legendary players fromOld TomMorris to TigerWoods.My problemis, now that the lawn is complete, once again golf seems a rather pointless exercise.


It did occur tome that opening your ‘golf’ garden to the publicmight not only offer a few sad people something to see in Surbiton butmight also revive your sense of purpose. But, of course, it’s not your life that lacks purpose but your golf. And so I suggest you create a sandpit, or bunker if you prefer, alongside your lawn and fill your pockets every time you visit a bunker and empty them when you return home. That should keep you going for at least another 20 years.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

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