WITH new year’s resolutions still fresh in the mind, I’m determined that one is going to come good this year – after failing dismally at it in the last twenty years or so.
This will be the year when I can get around a golf course without winning a comedy award.
I can thoroughly understand why so many people become addicted to the game; the top players make it look so easy, but it sure isn’t.
My first contact with the game came when I was a kid living not far from Hartlepool Golf Club, sandwiched between the railway embankment and the North Sea.
My friends and I would sometimes help the golfers by finding their golf balls and returning them for a tip.
We were told off, though, for sometimes grabbing them before they’d stopped bouncing.
Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to have spoken at events at many famous courses around this country and the world, and it seemed a waste not to give it a go.
When a smidge younger, I played loads of squash and tennis and presumed that years of playing those sports would set me up well for a fine career as an international golfer.
My theory was quite simple – if I could hit a squash ball moving at up to one hundred miles an hour, whacking a similar sized ball which was sitting still should be a doddle.
The only trouble is that the little white varieties don’t seem to keep still when you are trying to bash them – if that is the correct technical term.
I even took advice from golf playing friends that I should take some proper lessons rather than hack my way around a course and build up a lot of bad habits which would be hard to shift.
I did it right and took about a dozen lessons from an ex-pro and can now tell you everything there is to know about how to stand and shape your stance to look like a proper golfer.
I’m OK with the standing – it goes wrong a bit after that.
After several sessions at the driving range at Seaton, I took my first steps on a real golf course with friend Keith at High Throston Golf Club on the road to Hart.
It’s harder exercise than it looks – my way of playing golf means that a round of 18 holes takes about 60 hours and involves walking as many miles.
Happily though, I did have one memorable success on the day.
I hit a shot which sliced badly off the intended direction and didn’t just land in the rough – it landed in rain forest.
The advice from Keith was that you are supposed to take an odd-shaped club called a wedge and try to welly it towards the distant pin so that you get back on the proper fairway and move on from there.
It was a pure fluke, but my shot sailed like a bird, hit the pin and dropped in.
I threw the club over my shoulder and announced my retirement as nothing that good would ever happen again.
This is the year to give it a proper go – all encouragement and advice will be warmly welcomed!