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I heard early on that if you find you keep whacking the ball into the trees off the fairway on your first shot, all you need to do is just adjust your stance by a few microns and it will have the effect of bringing your shot in on target. It’s not a big shift you need, just a slight adjustment and you’ll get the result you want. That’s the theory at any rate.

The problem with the theory is that the word ‘just‘ (as in ‘just amend your stance‘) hides a myriad of difficulties and challenges. You may as well say, ‘just improve your golfing ability fifty million times’ for all the use of the instruction.

I thought I’d try this approach with the GND one day. Instead of talking to her with one foot wrapped behind my supporting knee, I thought I’d see if I could talk to her with both feet on the ground. It was pretty difficult as the moment I tried standing up I kept falling over. Obviously, I was trying to make too big a shift in too short a space of time: it needed to be in microns, not metres, so I went back to the golf drawing board and rethought the strategy.

My golf drawing board consisted of reading the Gary Player cartoon that was in the Sunday Express my dad used to buy every week. As well as picking up some very dubious politics at an early age, I learnt some invaluable golf tips from one of the masters which have seen me through some challenging games and personal situations in recent years. It’s amazing what you can learn from a strip cartoon in a red top newspaper: and if I think hard about it, I realise that my subsequent international golfing triumphs are all down to those early graphic golf lessons.

So, as part of the permanent attempt to ingratiate myself into the favours of the GND (never mind the favours, just a glance in my direction would have been a result) I went back to the weekly Gary Player cartoon to see what the master had to say.

And I was not disappointed. One of the most valuable tools that Gary has offered aspiring players over the years has been his 10 Commandments (all in comic book form too). And lo and behold, what does the 10th Commandment instruct? The one that inspired me both on the links, the municipals and matters relating to the GND? It’s the one that says:

There is no substitute for personal contact.

This was all I needed to know and I immediately dispensed with any pretence of micron size adjustments in my dealings with the GND. I decided to go for it at the very next opportunity.