Can You Call This Progress?

First Published August 22nd 2013

After returning from Spain, the three of us spent a number of evenings at the local 10 hole pitch n putt at Rampside – usually going round twice for £6. I can only find 3 scorecards from those outings with my scores being 110 and 103 twice, Mikes scores were 80 and 75 and Gez had scores of 104 and 83. Even from those limited numbers, it doesn’t take too much brain power to work out who the golfer is, putting me about 28 shots behind Mike, a figure that proved to be accurate when we later tried out a nearby municipal course at Crook.

Par at Rampside should I guess be 60 for 20 holes but the variable nature of the greens would make that tricky for anyone. What was obvious to me though was that both of my playing partners were lofting the ball to the green and that I was unable to do that, so something was wrong with my technique.

Undeterred by my incompetence, I bumped into a friend in the pub and started chatting to him about golf and my recent exploits. Turns out he’s a golfer and he invited me to play a round at the club where he’s a country member – Dunnerholme. Next day when he texted to arrange the round I had to backtrack slightly and confess that I’d never actually set foot on a real golf course – he assured me that all would be fine and we arranged to play on Monday 2nd June 2013.

When we played, frankly, I was terrified. I took my bag of irons, minus putter and thrust myself into the unknown. I couldn’t beleive how quickly we had to move around the course, having always thought of golf as a sedate game! I duffed my way around and Pete who’s a genuine 26 handicap and not a bandit (he says) put an end to the torture after 9 holes then suggested lunch and a couple of beers. So although I wasn’t yet playing golf, I’d lost my virginity and was loooking forward to the next time.

In early July the bloke that cuts hair suggested that we try the course at Crook near Windermere. It’s called Beckside, it’s 9 holes and you go around twice for a tenner.

So the three of us went up to see what the crack was and played a round.

I still didn’t really have a clue what i doing and carded 145 v par of 63. Mike hit 78 and I can’t rember what Gez did because my mind was completely scrambled. I know I was 3rd by a distance though.

Further visits to Crook followed with scores for me of 125, 119, 107, 124, 102, and 113 from what I’ve recorded to date, there are some missing. Part of the limited improvement being down to the lessons I was now taking from Paul Stoller, the pro at Ulverston Golf Club, the first of which was on Friday 2nd August 2013. It’s £100 for 6 lessons by the way.

First lesson we went to the driving range and Paul sorted out my grip which yeilded instant improvement.

And my swing!

For some reason I’d latched onto something Mike had said in Spain about keeping your arms straight, so my swing was stiff and restricted. Paul sorted that out too.

My follow through was terrible because I didn’t naturally turn my body towards the target at the ended of the swing, and my back foot remained stubbornly planted on the ground.

But I was beginning to get it. However video analysis of what I was actually doing was both an embarressment and a revelation

The second lesson, a week later was pitching from the edge of the green. Hands down the shaft, knees close together, ball in middle of stance, right foot up onto toe, slow downward strike with easy follow throgh and body turning to pin – all good and it transferred well to the course. I manage to chip one in from 20ft the next day – a success somewhat ruined by the proceeding 9 shots to get there. But I was starting to feel it.

The third lesson was chipping to the green from 30 yards – a skill that I proved to be reasonably competent at, which is not surprising, given that I’d had a lot of on course practice. Paul ironed out the deficiencies in my technique, the major one being a tendency to hurry the whole process.

I’ve also been visiting the local driving range, or to put it another way, income diversification project for a farmer.

It helps …

If the markers are accurate, I’m hitting a 6 iron about 140 with good height when I connect well, I can pitch at the 70 yard wrecked car with decent loft within about 10 degrees and I’ve finally started to be able to hit woods – around 225 yards for a 1 wood on a good day. Got a slice problem though.

And that’s my progress to date.

My last 4 rounds at Crook have averaged out at 113 which would make me a 50 handicap golfer if such a lowly mark existed.

But there’s hope …

On my latest round, I took a 1 wood off the tee at 16, sliced 180 it right onto the adjacent fairway, played an 80 yard 9 iron blind over trees and landed it on the green then two putted for a par.

My pint of San Miguel in the Wild Boar afterwards tasted all the sweeter for that.