The Hacker: End of the century is far away but a double Scotch kills pain
Sunday 17 October 2010
It is the wrong time of year to get optimistic about your golf, especially when you look back and see your shattered hopes and dreams strewn lifeless across the fairways of summer like bodies on a battlefield.
Perhaps battlefield is putting it a little too dramatically. After all, it is only a game. But there is a strong element of conflict involved, of repeated attacks on the course being repulsed, your efforts mown down by trees, bunkers, ditches, hedges and, of course, your own minefield of mistakes.
The upshot is that I have failed in my declared ambition to break 100 in a medal despite a dozen or so brave but forlorn attempts.
There is one remaining chance. This weekend our club offers those miserable wretches who have failed to break the ton at least once the opportunity to redeem ourselves.
They call us the Centurions, which is a pretty fancy title until you realise it is meant as an insult. Most of us accept our failings like men; others are in a state of denial.
The best of players can have an occasional nightmare round and come in with 100-plus. We were once joined by a 10-handicapper but many wouldn't be seen dead in our company.
Consequently, only 63 out of a possible 105 are prepared to join in the tournament of the damned. But it is good fun and there's a bottle of Scotch for the best score and another for the worst.
I did very well last year. I not only won the Scotch for the worst score, the player who had the best score didn't drink so he gave me his bottle.
The Centurions tend to be overshadowed by our own version of the Ryder Cup, in which Wales play the Rest of the World. It is enthusiastically contested.
The teams are made up of those who accumulate the most points during the medal rounds through the year.
Each team wear sponsored shirts and the match is settled over two rounds. When it first began 12 years ago, I was non-playing captain of the Welsh team and we recorded a whitewash over the opposition thanks mainly to my tactical pairing plan.
Despite that success they've never asked me since so I tend to ignore them, which is easy because the Centurions sneak out in between their first and second rounds and we have our prize-giving while they are still on the course because they have been known to mock us.
This year, I hope to do far better because I have noticed an improvement in my game over the past week thanks to playing in a more relaxed manner. When you are not playing well, so much tension gets into your hands and arms that it is difficult to hit a controlled shot.
It is not easy to resist going at it as if you are chopping down a tree but, gradually, I am swinging more smoothly and the ball is going straighter and longer.
We had a bogey competition last weekend. It is not my favourite. You get a plus for a birdie, a half for a par and a minus for a bogey.
I managed a couple of pluses and a few halves but at -12 I was down near the bottom. However, I holed a 60-foot putt from off the green for a two on the 14th which earned me nine balls in the sweep so that cheered me up.
Wednesday was our past captains tournament and dinner. As some past captains are also past nearly everything else, we play only 15 holes. Striking the ball solidly and putting well, I scored 28 points, which is not bad for 15 holes. But the cup went to Nick, who plays off scratch and scored an unsporting 34.
We had dinner followed by the usual arguments about how things were much better in our days.
Tip of the week
No 71: Transfer your weight
One of the fundamentals to hitting good golf shots, but something which is so often overlooked, is weight transference.
Many players, when they swing the club back, straighten their right leg (if they are right-handed golfers), which inadvertently pushes the weight back down on to the left leg. The downswing then forces the weight back on to the right leg through the ball (known as a reverse pivot).
A great way to make sure that you are getting good weight transference is to set up to the ball in your usual way. Swing to the top of the backswing and lift your left foot totally from the ground. Now as you start down, replant your left foot, swing through and lift your right foot from the ground at the end of your follow-through.
This will make sure that your weight is moving in the same direction as your swing.
It will also increase distance and consistency.
Simon Iliffe is head professional at Bramley Golf Club, Surrey. www.theshortgame.co.uk
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