The Hacker: Red splodge drives me dotty but it's not such a bum deal for Mike

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Any tip from the top is eagerly welcomed by hackers. A word from the wise is like a message from heaven, a key that could get us out of the dungeon of the damned.

And many are the faltering golfers who would have been alerted to one of the secrets of success which was revealed by the winner of The Open, South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen.

Just before he stormed the Old Course at St Andrews, Louis had a session with a sports psychologist, Dr Karl Morris, who had worked extensively with Darren Clarke.

Oosthuizen's manager, Chubby Chandler, had been concerned that the player's inability to fully concentrate during tournaments was holding him back. After studying him in action, Dr Morris concluded that Oosthuizen was concentrating in the wrong places and that his routine was all over the place.

It is impossible to maintain a high level of concentration during an entire round, but when the time comes to focus you have to do so fully. The doctor advised him to put a red dot on his glove and use it as his trigger point to switch into a Zen-like state. Before every shot in The Open he looked down at it and, obviously, found it was a big help.

It is a remedy that also worked for the England cricket captain Michael Vaughan during the 2005 Ashes series. His trigger point for concentration was to look at the logo on his glove just before the bowler ran in.

Explained Dr Morris: "Batting is similar to golf in that you have to be able to switch on and off. Switching off is very important, too, because you need to relax and enjoy yourself on the course."

Oosthuizen did that and his cheery disposition was almost as impressive as his golf. I, too, have a cheery disposition and, after last weekend, I also have a red dot on my glove.

When we gathered at the first tee for a fourball better-ball competition, Mike produced a marker pen and proceeded to give us each a red splodge just below the knuckle of the first finger. He doesn't wear a glove so he drew his on his hand.

When it was my turn to drive I looked dutifully at the dot, but nothing happened. Then I swung and the ball plopped tamely 20 yards to the left and behind a tree.

Maybe I was looking at the red dot instead of the ball, but I immediately decided that it wasn't for me. Trouble is, I can't rub it off. Now I know how Lady Macbeth felt. Every time I look down it keeps staring at me.

Mike, however, found it a great success. He's been taking golf tips from someone on the internet and he's been going through a pre-swing routine under his breath. The red dot, however, persuaded him to repeat it out loud. "Stiff left arm forming a straight line with the club, very tight grip, don't cock the wrists..."

Then he couldn't remember the fourth instruction. "Clench your buttocks?" I offered. His reply wasn't very polite and he remembered three holes later that the last part of the mantra was "three-quarter swing". And the dot seems to be working for him if not for me.

He'll be banking on it in the Centenary medal this week-end. It is another challenge to break the cursed 100 and I don't need the distraction. I'll probably have to buy a new glove. Out, damned spot.

Tip of the week

No 60: Gameplan

All professional golfers will have a gameplan before they play a round of golf. They use their practice rounds before a tournament to work out their club selections from the tees before the event starts. Next time you play a medal or competition at your home club, try to put a gameplan together before you go for your round.

Try to imagine each tee shot and what club you want to hit and where you want it to finish. Then stick to your gameplan on the course. Under pressure you'll feel more in control of your game knowing what you want to do, rather than reacting to what may have just happened on the previous hole.

Simon Iliffe, Head Pro, Bramley GC, Surrey.