Time to get serious about your golf says Vousden…

Thought for the Day
Good things come to people who wait, but better things come to those who go out and get them

Are you a bit too pretentious or serious when it comes to golf?
Here are just some of the way you might identify yourself – or spot one of your playing partners – as being just a tad too obsessed with the game

If you have more books on golf than any other subject, and regularly quote from Golf in the Kingdom – the most pretentious bit of old tosh ever written about the game – you could be in need of therapy. Next time you’re ready to hit the course, have a look in the mirror and if you have more than three logos on your clothing, which includes the ubiquitous baseball cap, then you should re-think your wardrobe. Oh, and plus fours or twos, red or white trousers, or those that John Daly wears, which look like an explosion in a paint factory, are equally sad.

Now think about your equipment. If it includes head covers for your irons, a brush in the back of the car for cleaning your shoes and trolley wheels after a round, and a special wee brush for cleaning dirt out of the grooves in your clubface during a round, you really need to consider your priorities in life. Also into this worrying category fall those strange little dampened, semi-circular sponges for cleaning golf balls, ball markers that stick magnetically to a clip on the brim of your cap or visor, and in fact anything that attaches to, and dangles from, your golf bag.

But the real measure of the over-committed (and should-be committed) golfer comes on the course, during the round. For example, asking a caddie to tell you the perfect line to hit, when your only real ambition should be not to hit the caddie. And while you’re at it, by all means ask him or her the line of a putt, but not whether it’s into, or down-grain. A reality check might also be needed if you pace off the yardage to the green, when it measures about 12 feet; throw bits of grass into the air to judge wind direction when it’s blowing a force five gale straight into you, or take six practice swings before topping it 25 yards.

Talking to your golf ball while it’s in the air may be acceptable, as long as you shout either: Sit down!’ or ‘kick left’ (or right). Not acceptable is ‘Be the right club,’ ‘Oh yes, Baby,’ or any variation thereof. Skulling the ball through the green at a rate of knots, and saying: ‘Over-clubbed myself there’ is not included because this does not suggest you’re too serious about the game, just too stupid to be allowed to play it. You are also, never, allowed to suggest things like: ‘I’m not sure whether it’s a hard eight or a soft seven,’ for the simple reason that you’re not capable of hitting either.

But it’s on the green, for some reason, that the real golf fanatic reveals himself. Anyone who plumb-bobs a putt needs a reality check – tour pros stopped doing it years ago because it achieves nothing except delay play. Ditto walking all the way to the flagstick in order to read the line of your putt from behind, in front and both sides. And if you ever kneel or lay down on your stomach to properly read the line, you need to be carted away by those nice men in white coats – and I’m allowed to make this joke because, before becoming a golf writer, I was a psychiatric nurse for 12 years. And to prove it, I can type ‘psychiatric’ without having to consult a dictionary.

But the absolute giveaway, the one acid test of whether or not your involvement in golf has become so intense that it requires you to take a long break from the game and then give it up altogether, is having a vastly inflated sense of how good you really are. So you happily tell all-comers that you never usually play this badly (but of course you do) and you labour under the delusional belief that you have yet to achieve your potential when in fact you met and passed it some years ago.

This self-delusion manifests itself in all manner of ways but the real giveaway is your tendency to always go to the back tees, irrespective of the weather, length of the course or, more critically, the length of your drives, because: ‘You’re not really playing the proper course unless it’s from the back.’ Before you know it, you’ll be asking the starter what speed the greens are on the stimpmeter and regaling your playing partners with tales of the last time you played Carnoustie, St Andrews or any of the other great courses of the world.

If any or all of the above apply to you, it’s time to get help and I can offer therapeutic sessions at very reasonable rates. Apply within.

Quote of the Week
Golf is probably the only known game a man can play as long as a quarter of a century and then discover it was too deep for him in the first place
Seymour Dunn (grandson of Willie Dunn, Sr)

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