I am on the
comeback trail

Precisely three months after my operation, I ventured onto the golf course for the first time last Friday and managed to negotiate five holes without making a fool of myself and, more importantly, without a twinge from the site of my surgery.
My son, James, played with me and shared my clubs which he also kindly carried. He needed the outing as much as I did because he was flying to Chicago the following day to play a very special course.
He is the golf correspondent of the Daily Telegraph and on his way to covering the USPGA at Kiawah Island this week he popped in to Chicago to play the Medinha course where the Ryder Cup is being held next month.
Sadly, his golf is a little rusty. The paradox of being a golf correspondent, as I once found, is that you spend most of your life on the best courses in the world but you rarely get a chance to play the game.
Before I took on the role of golf correspondent of the Observer in the late 1980s I’d been playing golf for about ten years and had managed to get down to a 19 handicap and was slowly improving.
Within a year or two my game was moving swiftly backwards and then I was hit by the chipping yips which couldn’t be cured by the best advice available and even now is helping to chain me to a 28 handicap.
James used to play off 11 but, with a young family, was already finding it difficult to find the time to play even before charging around the world covering golf.
He has barely played this year so welcomed the chance for a few holes before facing up to Medinha.
It was a beautiful morning; sunny and warm but with a touch of crispness not found on those humid American courses. But even perfect conditions don’t help if your swing is not right and James’s wasn’t.
Neither was mine but, then again, it never was and a three month lay-off doesn’t help.
The trouble with being on the Tour, mixing with the top players and coaches, is that you tend to pick up tips which by the time you get to try them out don’t work.
I remember one of the first Desert Classics at the Emirates in Dubai. Seve Ballesteros won the tournament and he gave a press conference the following morning after which the media were invited to play the course.
Before we went out, Seve wished us luck and gave us a tip.
’Remember just two words,’ he said. ’High hands.’
We all nodded wisely and none of us dared show our ignorance by asking what the hell he meant. It was a lovely course and a real pleasure to play but, needless to say, the advice did help our games.
Once, James cleared his mind of all the advice he’s been taking aboard he began hitting the ball like he used to.
If he played regularly, he would soon be back in tune with his handicap but around Medinha he did not find it easy. He hit one shot he was proud of — an eight-iron on the par three second which finished three feet from the pin — but was beaten on the last by David Facey of the Sun, another Cardiff boy.
He says he is going to give up golf and take up rowing, sailing or swimming but I think they are all full.
As for my game, I was quietly encouraged. If your insides have been brilliantly rearranged you tend to avoid swinging violently and, of course, that helps considerably.
The surgeon told me to stick to a few holes for a while and that’s what I intend to do with special emphasis on chipping. If I can make a solid improvement on one part of my game, I may be able to tackle a medal in the autumn with a 99 in sight.

One thought on “I am on the
comeback trail

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>