The Hacker: My flexible friend gives me tips but my midriff gets in way

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The Independent Online

Much-needed advice came winging its way across the Atlantic last week but, alas, it came too late to save me from another medal disaster.

I wrote last Sunday about the strange set of circumstances that saw me paired in a club four-ball better-ball with American professional Brad Rollinson.

Brad, who plays out of the TPC in Sawgrass, Florida, was here to try to qualify for the British Seniors Open at Sunningdale but narrowly missed out and spent the weekend with his wife in a clifftop hotel near our club.

He fancied a game on the Saturday so instead of sharing fairways with the likes of Tom Watson and Greg Norman, he ended up partnering me.

Thankfully, we were playing with two of our best players, who had won 20 club championships between them, so he did have some class company.

But I did very well. Playing with good players can do that for you but in my excitement I forgot to ask him for a tip or two before he left.

I brazenly emailed him for some advice but hadn't received a reply before turning out last weekend for the August medal.

It was an atrocious day and by the eighth Mike and I had had enough. Unfortunately, Max was scoring quite well and urged us to keep going, promising us it would brighten up. But it rained even harder and my reluctance to go on must have been transmitted to my muscle control centre because I slapped the ball up the ninth in a zig-zag fashion that led to a 12.

It didn't get much better on the back nine and I made a sodden and sorry sight as I returned to the clubhouse with a 117, which wasn't the worst of the day but a disgrace nevertheless. Even worse, it put my handicap up to 26.5 which meant that I am now playing off 27. My game is plumbing new depths.

The following day I heard from Brad. He wrote: "You hit the ball a long way for a guy who doesn't have much length to his back-swing. You have a lot of strength in your arms and hands."

What he recommended was that I see a personal trainer to improve my flexibility to help me turn more on the backswing, and see a coach to lengthen my arm swing.

Since my next golfing engagement was in the members and guests four-ball stableford a few days later, I had no time to put his advice into operation.

My new handicap wasn't much help, either. There was a handicap limit of 24, and three-quarters of that brought my allowance down to 18. I need much more assistance than that. My guest plays a mean game off nine and I was hoping he could carry me while I sought more flexibility from a midriff designed more for bounceability.

But I was absolutely no help to him and the burden proved too great. I do tend to have that effect on other golfers. He even had the first shank he's had for years.

I'll need to continue the improvement tomorrow when I captain the Welsh team in the Golf Writers' home internationals at the new Lough Erne complex in Northern Ireland. There's usually a lot of flexibility involved in that event.