The Hacker: I try to clear my mind but it all comes flooding back in the rain
Sunday 01 February 2009
My mission to put my entire trust in my mind and body to set about the hitting of my golf ball without any instruction from me did not get off to a good start.
The Glamorganshire course is saturated, so last weekend's competition upon which I had placed my hopes of a promising debut for my new thought-free style was postponed.
It was feared that the winter league on the Sunday morning would also have to be called off for the second week in succession. It's a calamity for our bar takings if the 140 or so of our prime thirsts don't play, so the organisers excludedthe four wettest holes andsent the lads out into the mud to play 14-hole matches.
I'm not playing in the league this session so I planned to get myself back into the swing of things by going to Royal Porthcawl on Tuesday. Neither of my regular partners was available, unfortunately.
I thought I'd go anyway because Porthcawl, being a links course, is always firm underfoot and rarely out of play. Then a gloomy cloud of persistent drizzle descended and I couldn't face it.
Wednesday dawned much brighter, though, and Ithought about playing in the swindle competition at Glamorganshire if the course was open. We have a new answer-machine service which gives the daily condition of the course, and I rang at 8.45am to hear a recorded voice declare that it was open but buggies and trolleys were banned.
I duly jettisoned half my clubs and various bits of spare clothing to make my bag lighter to carry, and headed for the club eagerly anticipating some action.
But it was all in vain. The course was closed but the message hadn't been changed until five minutes after I rang.
The others who had turned up decided to settle for a game of snooker, but I headed for Porthcawl determined to get some golf even if it meant playing by myself, which it did.
I used to think how forlorn it was to see a "Billy No Mates" playing on his own. Single golfers didn't have any standing on the course, they were officially invisible and were generally ignored.
But since last year that has changed. A solo player has now the same standing as a group and should be called through if he's being held up.
It was not a right I intended to pursue. When I caught up with a fourball on the third, I decided to nip off to the fifth.
I don't like hole-hopping as a rule, but there weren't many golfers about. As it was a mild, windless day with enough sun to suggest a hint of spring, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
As for my experiment, it requires a lot of confidence to clear your mind and just swing but I hit enough decent shots to encourage me.
By an amazing coincidence, I read on Friday that recent research conducted by psychologists at St Andrews University found that golfers who think too much about their shots actually harm their game. They recommend that you don't think too hard about your technique.
If it's any help to them, I think it is a lot easier when you didn't have any technique worth thinking about in the first place.
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