There’s a scene in the classic golf movie Tin Cup – look it up on YouTube you’re under 30 – where our hero hits “a little chili dipper”, as he puts it, and then spends the next 20 minutes of the film hoselling his way round driving ranges in an ever-increasing state of panic.
There’s something about the sha… – I can’t even bring myself to say it – that puts fear into the heart of any player.
Why it feels any more destructive than a snap hook, for instance, is a mystery to me but, whenever I see one going straight right immediately after contact, a deep dread passes through my very being.
So imagine you’re in a position where you do that repeatedly, for an hour, in front a crowd.
This is what gripped me at a recent custom fitting.
It all started well enough.
We began with the driver and, while I wasn’t Rory McIlroy by any means, the ball was going far enough and with a little baby cut.
Then I picked up an iron and the nightmare started.
Everything was low and very lame.
It didn’t matter what I did. Faster swing, slower, further away from the ball, closer to it, aiming left, right, hitting off the mat, hitting off the grass – it was all the same result. Pitching wedge, 8-iron, 4. The result was the same.
What did I do? Panic.
Why? This is embarrassing enough at the best of times but it borders on the serious when a custom fitting is involved.
Think about it. How can an expert put you into a suitable club if you can’t strike the ball? How can you tell whether you need a regular or stiff shaft, or if the loft and lie is as it should be, when you can’t even find the face.
On this occasion, we had to draw stumps and, thankfully, I managed to find the middle of the bat at a re-fitting three weeks later.
Even now, though, it still gives me nightmares. Have you suffered a fitting woe? Let’s get therapy together. Let me know in the comments below, or you can tweet me.
Out and about
Perhaps it wasn’t the smartest move to attend the office Christmas party the night before the annual club trophy presentation at Sandburn Hall.
Combined with the Christmas Bottle competition, which was played from a shotgun start, the sight of such large quantities of alcohol – so soon after the adventures of the previous night – made me a touch queasy to say the least.
But I powered on through to shake some hands and give out some trophies at one of the highlights of the club year.
It’s only when you see all those cups, trinkets and envelopes lined up on a table that you start to really just how busy the tournament season is at a club.
And though there were none with my name on them this year – something I definitely plan on rectifying in 2018 – it was fantastic to see all those who did have some success during the last 12 months.
So another year over, as they say, Personally, I can’t wait for the next one. It’ll be spring before we know it.
My month in golf
The weather – when it hasn’t been chucking it down it’s been bone hard with frost – has pretty much curtailed any serious attempts at golf over the past month.
But I did get out to the coast amid the downpours and played the terrific Scarborough South Cliff. The North Yorkshire course co-hosted the Amateur Championship, with Ganton, in 2016. The view over the bay from the par 5 5th is sensational.
It’s worth the green fee alone just to look out over the seaside town and the North Sea.
Steve is NCG’s Club Golf editor. He plays off 11 and is captain at Sandburn Hall in York.
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