The trials & tribulations of the worlds most frustated golfer.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

At last! I broke 100!

This week for the first time ever, my father and I both broke the magical 100 barrier. I have always seen 100 as something of a watershed score. I, and i'm sure many others too would not even consider anyone who cant score under 100 a proper golfer. So even though i have been playing for 3 years,, I only really became a 'proper'golofer this week, when I hit the marvelous score of 91. Hell I nearly broke 90 never mind under the ton. Pater scored a slightly less spectacular 97. But that too was a personal best for him, so we drove home happy, after a great 3 hours twenty minutes of golf. During which time nobody behind us was bugging us to hurry up (we let a lone golfer through) and the sun shone benevelently all afternoon.

The last few days i have been pondering what if anything was the one thing that helped my score the most. It must definately have been my new found ability to actually hit the ball a fair distance with the long 3 and 4 irons. Before the last month I hardly ever tried as i just chunked or topped them. It really is a good feeling to have a reasonable confidence of thwacking the ball a good distance, when one has a 3 iron in ones hand. :)

Monday, August 21, 2006

On the road to green again

Once again the tiny green shoots of hope are springing rather sporadically, over the courses "browns". The annoying thing is the hobbits who laughingly think of themselves as "greenkeepers" have not taken the chance to scatter seed on the small bare patches here and there. These green staff are so annoying that I once wrote to the local council asking to be considered the the greenkeepers job, as, "you obviously dont have one at the moment, judging by the appaling state of the greens. I got back a cryptic reply that my "letter was being dealt with"! Whatever that meant? But i regret to say I never heard anything more. Sigh...

Anywho here is a pic of me that i made from the "game face" facility in Tiger Woods 2004 (PC version)

Monday, August 07, 2006

My course is dying of thirst......

Ok, so it's only my local par 3 pitch & putt, thats certainly seen better days but thats not the point. The local dumb council workmen broke open the main water pipe months ago. Ergo, no water on the greens. Not 8usually a huge prob in the UK however, as it rains every week usually even in the summer. However this summer is shaping up to be the hottest and dryest since records began, so the greens are like straw.

Even though the guy on the TV show 'Gardeners world' informs us that "you do not EVER need to water the grass, however bad it looks. As it goes dormant in the heat and will always eventually grow back" The grass has now worryingly turned to straw and cracks underfoot as one walks across it. So in their wisdom the powers that be have shut down the course for the forseeable future and have no idea when it will be open again (even though there was a break in the heat and it rained four days last week, before returning us back to "hot hot hot!!") The people who run the course say let them play on, the damage has been done and it will grow back anyway. the owners ie: the local council authority, as usual acting too late and overdoing it. Have shut down for an unspecified time.

Sigh... it's only been shut for two weeks and i'm missing the pock marked greens already. I will go and make an inspection on the way to my brothers house tonite. More anon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

PS: Sorry Scotland but the Romans invented golf too!

Golf invented in scotland ? Methinks not, wee jock! The Romans, who were known for roving around the known world and suppesing the local populace, then eventually seducing them to their way of life. After all, everybody wanted to be a Roman. (bit like the USA today actually)
Anywhoo one of the countries these soldier boys conquered was Holland. Way back in dutch medieval times they used to play a sport named kolf, meaning, club. Which was strikingly similar to the roman game of Pagnacia. Which consisted of putting some sticks in the ground and belting a hardened leather ball at them with some tree branches. Escept that the Dutch game was played on a paved courtyard, where the balls were whacked at the sticks with as few strokes as possible. (sounds familiar?) When the winter came, those sport loving dutchmen played the game on ice with their ice skates. (the probable origin of ice hockey too)

Now there was mucho trade between Scotland and Holland, even way back when. Especially when the scots were at war with the english (quite often) The Scots took the solid leather ball and improved it with one made of goose feathers stuffed, and i mean stuffed into a leather case. Ball makers often suffered broken ribs from the exertion of stuffing a bucketfull of goose feathers into a leather stitched case. Along with many other improvements to the club head, they are responsible for the modern game as we know it today. The hollow steel shaft and the haskel ball (the modern ball), however came from USA, much later on. Damn clever those romans. in fact the caesarian section and the atrerial clamp were just two of the "modern" things the Romans actually did invent themselves. Although the Romans, were not adverse to nicking a good idea when they saw one. The fact is though the game was, as far as we know invented by the Romans and improved upon by the dutch.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Irons that you cant hit with. The conspiracy unmasked!

There are many "beginner" sets of golf clubs available these days. The term "beginner" sets however is a misnomer. Show me any golf beginner who can hit a 3 or 4 iron and I'll show you the one in a hundred person who is a natural golfer. There is just no way anybody new to golf can consistantly get the ball in the air with the long irons. Its either a "worm burner", that zooms across the grass at a height of 6 inches. Or it's the type of shot that takes a huge chunk of grass before the ball dribbles 3 yards. (golf has not yet gone metric. Yards are the order of the day)
For many players this also extends to the 5 iron for the beginning few months. So we have a set of clubs which have two or 3 clubs in which cannot be used.

So, the innocent golfing neophyte goes back to the shop, or his 'Pro' (Every golfer worth his salt, even a beginner. Especially a beginner must have the attentions of his own Pro. This is absolutely essential if one is to be taken seriously) and says, "I cant hit these damn long irons. What shall I do?"
This is where the clever part is. The novice golfer is suckered in to yet another purchase. This time a set of fairway woods. "You'll soon be belting those balls soaring into orbit with those babies"
is the inference. Strange thing is, this often does happen, as they are easier to hit than the long irons. Because of the greater loft and the flatter broader base. Which begs the question. Why do the club makers keep making and selling these "beginner" sets in the first place? Could it be they just like getting paid twice? Well who doesn't?

Jiggers, cleeks, baffing spoons and niblicks

Yes. Jiggers, cleeks, baffing spoons and niblicks. Or should that be mashie niblicks ? To the golfing readers out there the word niblicks may have given the game away. The moniker of niblick was given to a nine iron in the not too distant past. Then there's the wonderfully named rutting iron, along with its cousins the tracking iron and the rake. The rake is a particularly bizzare golfing implemenet by todays exacting standards. It sort of resembles a large dinner fork, with the prongs pointing to the sky, on the end of a normal shaft. (pictured below this article) It was supposedly a device that enabled the poor golfer who had got hiself into a spot of bother, a la shallow water or wet sand (only wet sand mind you. for the dry stuff the normal sand iron would surfice. Unless you were playing a round before the mid 1930's, in which case you would be buggered. Because the sand wedge, was not invented by Gene Sarazen until 1932) Similar water clubs included the brilliantly named water iron and the president.

The lower edge of the sand wedge blade (called a "flange") is shaped with a very pronounced and long angle of bounce, so that the club is able to resist a trajectory that would take it deep into the sand. With a heavy weighted end at the bttom to help maintain a strong momentum through the sand. Exactly what, they did before Sarazens masterpiece of engineering, I shudder to think. I imagine it was something like a Laurel & Hardy movie, with several golfers all marroned in a bunker. Every now and then bashing wildly at their gutter percha's. (see next paragraph)

Prior to the 1840's all golf balls were individually made by stuffing goose feathers tightly.into a leather case. in fact so tightly did they need to be stuffed that the ribs of these early golfing artizans were ofen broken by the sheer effort needed. In the late 1840s, feathery balls were being replaced by spheres of gutta percha, a substance derived from the sap (latex) of certain Malaysian trees. The prototype had been molded by Robert Paterson in 1845. These balls, called "gutties", were less expensive to make and proved more durable than the feathery.

Er.. sorry about that. for a few paragraphs there I appeared to fall into historical text book mode. Anyway, back to the wierd and wonderfully named clubs of yesteryear. where were we ? Ah the Baffing spoons should be next methinks. In those days they really did call a spade a spade. The baffing spoon was a wood that was spoon shaped and they used it for baffing the ball. Yes it was actually concave like a spoon! There were also clubs specially made to do the job of nicking balls from in between tree roots and divots named jiggers.

I cant but feel that todays drivers, you cant drive. Woods that aren't made of wood and irons numbered 3 to 9, just dont evoke anything like the same images as those strangely named clubs of our great grandfathers day. Am i alone in this ?

The Rake

Back in the days when golfing was more a sport and less a multi million pound business. When professionals played for tropheys and no cash whatsover (they made their money by challenging the club pro's or the local bighead to games for money) Golfing implements were given simpler truer nomencaltures. the woods were real wood, the Irons were made from real iron, individually hamered out at the local blacksmiths. Not made from spring steel titanium or graphite. The above club, the "rake" looks like a small rake. As it should do, as it should do.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Golfing for Zeros

Well the weekly disappointment has happened again. After yet another brilliant performance during my golfing lesson. I was ready to go and "kill it" on the golf course ( or the driving range if weather forced the issue ) This brought about the inevitable consequence of yet another dreadfull round where I could barely hit the ball 20 yards in a crooked curve, let alone a straight line.

The only comfort in all this is, after admitting to this eternal loop of repeating ups and downs, like some old soap opera, is this. I am not alone! After blurting it out to fill an awkward silence as several of us budding golfers waited outside for the instigator. I was almost relieved (well there was no almost about it actually) to hear that out of the four of us standing outside, three of us admitted to the self same weekly highs and lows of practice and failure. The fourth member of our little impromptu confessional said nothing. So we all just assumed the worst, especially after I espied a brace of new clubs in his hand? Had he snapped the old Spalding over his knee in a fit of bad shot blues, or was it just a coincidence. Enquiring minds need to know ? One of our not so merry band, told of taking a complete non player and golf course virgin, out for a round. We listened in sympathy for him and jealousy for his companion. A seeming golfing prodigy who had never hit a ball in his life, but was killing the ball with two hundred yard shots, straight from the word go. Alright, so he hit the occasional "air shot" or "whiff" as its known in the trade. The odd ball went left or right of the target. But if I could hit the ball half as well today, I'd be a happy man.

The strange thing was, I recalled my own first try, when I beat my own golf playing father and uncle, at the first attempt. It was, I reasoned, the fact that I did not know that I supposedly could not play. I knew nothing about loft or line, nothing of stance or keeping the left arm straight. It was ridiculously simple. "Aha" I mused to myself. I'd known it all along. Any fool could play golf. There was no trick or skill to it at all. Well... maybe the putting did require a little practice. But everything else could be picked up in a few afternoons on the course and a quick flip through the old rule book. In other words, I hadn't had any of the optimism of the non golfer drummed out of me. I simply knew that I could hit the ball straight down the fairway the pessimism, that I was "doing it wrong", drummed in to me. It's like a trappeze artist who doesn't know he cant walk the rope who is blithely sauntering across a thin wire without a care in the world. All of a sudden, somebody shouts, " but he cant walk that thin wire. He's bound to fall and be killed.." And there goes a potentially beautifully carrier as a daredevil high flyer, doomed to bite the dust, as he suddenly loses all softens and trips over his own show laces and becomes all self conscious.

Back to last nights lesson. Well three minutes with the golf pro and he had confirmed for me, what I already knew to be true in my budding golfers heart. My grip was wrong, my stance was wrong, my backswing was wrong, my.. well you get the idea. I had deteriorated from a "very promising" to a no hoper in one easy lesson. Where had it all gone wrong ? Actually I was sure that I knew where it had gone wrong. ie: on the first tee, the day after my last lesson. What I didn't know was why it had all fallen apart ? I was (almost) ashamed to say, my only compensation was that I was obviously and gloriously not alone. Whew! :)

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Golfing for Heros

A few months back a friend and i decided to take up golf. Well to be more precise, I decided to take up golf, and my friend got dragged in to be my playing partner. Golf is a sport that should not really be played on your own too often. A reputation as a "billy no mates" is all to easilly attainable and difficult to lose. Or people just assume your so bad at the game nobody would dare chance a round with you.

I had once before played a full round with my father and uncle, many years ago, and beat them both on my first ever try with the old hickory stick (archaic) I always smile at the rememberance of my uncle franticly adding and re adding the scores to try and make them come out differently. At the time I couldn't see what on earth all the fuss was about. So I'd beat them both. So what ? Now I realise how bad they must have thought there game was, for a total beginer to trounce them on his first ever try. ( And it was. No really! ) It must have been traumatic for them or something as i could never get them to go again, even though I asked several times. My father gave up the game soon after and as far as I am aware my uncle also did soon after. At least he said he did, but he may have been just ensuring thats what his brother thought. So that there was never any chance of me coming along to a game ever again?

Anywhoo, back to the present. Many years later whilst on holiday in sunny south Devon (Torquay to be exact) I was on a family holiday with my now retired parents. There was a spare bed, so a friend of mine came along to defray the costs, of bed and board. petrol etc. Well one day early on in the holiday we drove past a golf club, which piqued my interest, though I said nothing. An hour or two later, we were at a car boot sale, that had appeared from nowhere, after we sailed around a bend in the road. there it was in an adjacent field to the roadside. like Brigadoon springing from the mists on Dartmoor, to trap unwary travellers. Well a car boot sale to the average englishman is like candy to a baby. Thoughts of the bargains to be had abound and before you know it, you have sailed through the gates and paid your 50p to park the car in a muddy field.

Well to get back to the theme of this dialogue, what was the first thing that I espied ? Yes your correct. A full set of golf clubs. I asked the price and like music to my ears the siren sang back in a Devon brogue "one pound each moi luv".
Well that sealed it for me. I then knew that the strange feeling as we passed that golf club a few miles back was fate tapping me on the shoulder, to tempt me back to the gloroius game that is golf.
More Annon