The Hacker: A pro can set you along the right lines, but keep off the white powder

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The Independent Online

One thing in golf you will never be short of is advice, and the worse you play the greater is the number of people anxious to help you.

It is the opposite of the parable of the Good Samaritan. It's not just one kindly soul who comes toyour aid; everyone piles in. You wish they would all pass by on the other side and let you get on with sorting itout yourself.

The odd tip when you are having a nightmare on the course can help at times and, believe it or not, I've even passed on a useful nuggetor two myself – but most advice tends to be confusing, and a hacker's worst enemyis a brain cluttered by do'sand don'ts.

What you need is simple, easily assimilated instruction from a worthwhile source, and that means a professional. I've had a few lessons lately and they've been very helpful without improving my scoring.

That's mainly because my bad swing thoughts keep overpowering my good swing thoughts. Only practice and concentration will solve that problem. Not that it helped in my last lesson when the ball exploded and I was enveloped in a cloud of white powder.

Andy, our club pro, had been carefully placing the ball for each shot and had slipped in a joke ball. He swore blind he didn't know it was there but was still laughing when I paid him. At least he had the decency to only charge half-price because of the shockto my system.

My worst experience with a professional was when he gave me my money back after a chipping lesson. He said I was worse at the end than I had been at the beginning. It is no fun to be rated as unteachable.

John, a friend and fellow hacker, was beset by a persistent shank last year and went to a pro renowned for his expertise on the subject. While he was demonstrating how to avoid shanking the pro started to hit shanks himself, and was almost in tears as John gratefully slunk away uncured but strangely satisfied.

While I was engaged on my plaintive attempt to break 100 the other week I had an email from a lady called Katie offering salvation. She belongs to an organisation who are intent on saving a million golfers at least one shot each.

Some of the world's top coaches have banded together to offer advice on their website, which is called, where free tips are available.

Golf instruction on the internet is nothing new and there are many sites promising to improve your game, butI've tried Katie's site and there's a lot of helpful advice to be gained.

With coaches of the calibre of Peter Cowen, Keith Williams and Dr Karl Morris, the sports psychologist – I think a shrink is what I need – involved, you seem to be in good hands.

Of course, you have to buy their DVDs to get the full treatment, and you can even send them a video of your swing to be analysed.

Some say that you should use just one teaching pro to avoid complicating the process, but I think that I'm going to share the burden around. I have no intention of suffering alone.