The Hacker: A parting of the ways: my technique is not cut and blow-dried

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The Independent Online

Suddenly, like a blinding flash, I have become aware of the main source of my golfing deficiencies. Yes, I know the main source is me but it's slightly more subtle than that; it's the way I approach the game.

I'd never really thought about it. As the great Robbie Burns pointed out far more poetically, our greatest difficulty is seeing ourselves as others see us.

This was brought home to me when I walked into the bar last Sunday lunchtime to join the competitors in our winter league for a drink.

My friend Mike was gloomy. He confessed that he and Roy had just been walloped 7 & 6 by Glenfryn and Roger.

Glen is a 28-handicapper, like me, and, again like me, is not usually regarded as an opponent more to be feared than the club cat.

But he was more than pleased with his morning's work and, considerably buoyed by their success, said to me: "Funnily enough, we were talking about you on the course this morning."

He refused to elaborate, but later Mike told me that Glen had commented on the fact that I played with wild abandon. "He only goes out to enjoy himself," he said.

He didn't mean it as a criticism and I didn't take it as one. I do have a cavalier attitude that continually lands me in trouble.

I play each shot as if I'm Tiger Woods – who I am certainly not, neither on nor off the course – and the results are often calamitous.

Glen, who is a gentleman's hairdresser of the old school with a long list of distinguished clients in the centre of Cardiff, used to be another who would flail around in search of a world-beating shot.

But you don't last long as a gentleman's hairdresser if you wave your scissors around in a flamboyant fashion, although the way he prattles on you'd be better off without ears.

A certain amount of studied calm and composure is necessary in his work, and that is now the quality he has taken to the golf course, with sound results.

He doesn't try to hit the ball long but concentrates on hitting it straight down the middle. It's metronomic but effective and, with his partner Roger a tidy player, they are a bit of a handful. Mike and Roy had to give them nine shots and just couldn't cope.

It has taken a long time to dawn on me but at last I see that my path ahead is clear. I have a gameplan which involves making the most of my new handicap of 28.

I have often joked that the secret of golf is shots. Forget swings, stances and grips; get yourself plenty of shots and slowly build up from there.

At the moment, of course, all this is in the mind. The weather these past few months has been so bad that all we've been able to do is think about the game. But the few outings I've had have shown that my new, fettered approach has distinct promise. The backswing is shortened, the lust for distance is quelled and the brain is being trained to seek the safest route to the flag.

Gone is the happy, gaily swinging troubadour. In his place is the dour, modest-missioned robot.

This, ashamedly, is not the attitude that discovered America, split the atom or invented beer, but it might allow me to achieve something far more important: breaking 100 in the next medal.

p.corrigan@independent.co.uk

Tip of the week

No 40: Fill the gaps in your wedges

Do you realise your pitching wedge will have in the region of 46 degrees of loft and your sand wedge 56 degrees. That's a 10-degree difference.

For the average golfer, four degrees' difference in loft equates to 10 yards in distance and is the normal gap between each consecutive iron. So a 10-degree gap between your wedges can equate to as much as 25 yards that you will need to "manufacture" a shot for.

Professionals carry as many as four wedges, as they know these are their scoring clubs, and they want as many options as possible to play shots from within 100 yards of the green. Just because your wedge has 54 degrees stamped on the sole, it doesn't always signify the exact loft.

Ask your pro to check the lofts on your wedges to make sure you are not leaving any large gaps.

Simon Iliffe, Head Professional, Purley Downs GC, Surrey. www.theshortgame.co.uk

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