It's week 8 so you know what that means – the Brabazon Trophy is here. So how did our man get on? Let's find out

Preparing for the Brabazon Trophy: Week  7

Monday May 20

In the gym at 6am. Many work related things in the morning and have a club knockout in the afternoon. I am giving 11 off the front tees, so I am not especially hopeful. Playing against a new member who used to be be off 2 but due to assorted back issues (which he barely mentioned, honestly) has climbed to 11.

A bogey at the 1st is not especially hopeful but I am relaxed, swinging nicely and putts are dropping. I make five birdies and no more bogies and win the match with a 2 on the par-3 14th. We walk in and I make it in time to pick the kids up from nursery.

Tuesday May 21

In the gym at 7 with Rachael for PT. My programme is called ‘Peaking’ and it involves a lot of hip stretches, some glue activation (yes, really) and some power, which Rachael describes as “potentiation”.

I have googled this and it means “the increase in strength of nerve impulses, along pathways which have been used previously either short term or long term”. In reality it involves jumping as high and as fast as you can. I am rubbish at it, I ask Rachael why, she says it “could be your age”.

Have a lesson with Jack in the evening. We have met at the new ‘Grooves’ indoor facility in Poole in Wharfedale. We are using the GC2 to get my yardages for full and three-quarter shots, because I noticed on Twitter that is what Koepka does. It is a strange couple of hours. We discover that my clubs are far too upright, but we have no way of altering that. We also decide to completely overhaul my system for hitting knockdown shots so I’m now gripping on the metal.

Here are my numbers, it is unclear why there is no 8-iron knock down. It might be because a tee peg was in the way of the radar for at least 50% of the session…

This evening I am in a hotel on my own in Liverpool so I decide to make a tick list of things I need to sort out before next week:

  • Driving: Tick
  • Fairway woods: Occasionally top my 4-wood off the tee
  • Hybrids: Have ditched my 2-iron and gone to a 2-hybrid, it is brilliant, tick
  • Irons: Must get flattened
  • Pitching: Tick
  • Chipping: Tick
  • Bunkers: Really bad, cannot stop knifing them

In my little black book I write that I am going to, get my irons flattened, practise bunkers, keep up my gym stuff, and come up with a clear strategy before next Thursday.

Wednesday May 22

I am in Liverpool as a guest of Fairways to Heaven, an American Tour Operator we are working with. They have a group of Americans playing the three Royals: Birkdale, Lytham and Liverpool. I am here as we are creating them some content and I thought it would be good practice. We are going everywhere by coach. Being on an American tourist bus at a links golf course feels like being an undercover police officer in a terrorist cell. I am concerned about going native.

Start off beautifully at Birkdale, and am level par stood in the middle of the 5th fairway with a 9-iron, which I know is six degrees too upright. I pull it in the bunker, and to everyone’s surprise but mine I knife it into the face and make 6. Bounce back with a birdie at the 6th and am happy at 2-over on the 10th tee, then top my tee shot with my 4 wood (see?) but do chip and putt for 5. Arrive at the 17th tee having dropped two more to be 5-over. Hit the four best shots of the week on 17 and 18 to close with two birdies and shoot 75, which was most pleasing.

I win longest drive at 18 after hitting it 367 yards. We also win lowest gross. I am trying to be cool about this, but I am delighted. Silverware! My first trophy of the season. A W is a W. The whiff of masculinity that’s longest drive evokes, also means I am perceived to be well hung and popular with women, which is adding to my buoyant mood – as is the Magners.

Spend the journey back to the hotel ringing everyone I can think of to see if they will bend my clubs. No joy.

Thursday May 23

Lytham this morning. God I love Lytham. Never hit it properly off the 1st, and today is no different. Bogey. Unplayable lie in a bunker on the 2nd. Double Bogey. 3-over through two. But then we are off again. Make a great birdie at the 3rd. My short game is brilliant, and make great up and downs on 4, 5, 6 and 7. We aren’t great on the back nine but still win lowest gross. We magnanimously pass it down to 2nd. If these Americans leave with nothing else, they will leave with better etiquette.

The shop can bend my irons! I stand too close to the man, but I am so excited this is going to be a game changer. Head to the practice area to try my new clubs. Get heckled from the balcony by the captain of Hirsel. What has happened to standards?

Have some more cider and win a hand-clap press ups competition in the Cavern Club. Another W.

Friday May 24

Hoylake. Tired. Vow to play properly. Evoking Tiger in ’06. Iron off the tee, fat of the green, two-putt, move on. Hybrid off the tee finds the short stuff. It is on a slight hanger, the wind is out of the left and it is OB right. This is not great for a man with newly-flattened irons. I flush it out of bounds. A knifed bunker shot on the 2nd and I have started double-double. Think about what Karl would say. He would say “keep enjoying it, keep creating shots, every shot is a unique set of circumstances”. Make a two-putt birdie at 3, hole a bomb and 4, make a 2 at 7, and birdie at 8 to close the front 9 in level from a mess of start. This is really making me happy.

Hit too many drivers on the back 9, mainly left, and do some odd chipping on one of the par 3s but get it round in a couple over from the worst possible start and my iron play is night and day from where it was.

We win lowest gross by 20. Another W.

Have had a brilliant few days with a bus full of Americans. Never thought that would be possible. They are knowledgable, competent, straight-forward and, most of all, fun. They also like to drink. Can’t wait to get back on the bus.

Saturday May 25

In the gym for some more potentiation. Kids have a party in the afternoon so go to the golf club for a couple of hours and work on some strategy. It is going to be sooooo bouncy.

Redo list:

  • Driving: Now have hooks
  • Fairway woods: Occasionally top my 4-wood off the tee, so just won’t use it
  • Hybrids: Have ditched my 2-iron and gone to a 2-hybrid, it is brilliant, tick
  • Irons: Must practise with newly-flattened clubs
  • Pitching: Tick
  • Chipping: Tick
  • Bunkers: Really bad, cannot stop knifing them. I will avoid bunkers
  • Body: Must keep doing stretches and moving around

Sunday May 26

Have a family BBQ in the day. Kids exhausted and asleep by 7 so off to the golf club until dark. Decide my grip is too strong, do the Adam Scott pre-shot routine where you hold the club in your left hand only by your side. Reminded that I need a pre-shot routine, and also reminded that Rotella says that the closer you get to go time, the more you should practise like you play. So I head to the course and work on my pre-shot routine. This is going very well and my driving is back behaving after weakening my grip.

Get home and write down my strategy, based on a 12mph south westerly:

1st: Really want to hit 2-hybrid, as this takes out the fairway bunkers and will only leave a wedge downwind. Worried about fatting it. Have not ruled out driver.
2nd: 5-iron, gap wedge. Slightly worried about knifing second out of bounds.
3rd: Driver, iron. No concerns here.
4th: 2-hybrid, 2-hybrid.
5th: 2-hybrid, gap wedge.
6th: Problem as want to hit 4-wood, but might top it, so will hit driver.
7th: Par 3 that’s never been my friend. Middle of the green is an 8- or 9-iron.
8th: HATE HATE HATE.
9th: Best 2-hybrid gets on the front edge.
10th: HATE HATE HATE.
11th: Another par 3. 6-iron gets in middle of the green.
12th: 2-hybrid, wedge.
13th: 2-hybrid, 5-iron.
14th: 2-hybrid.
15th: Driver, wedge.
16th: Driver, wedge.
17th: Driver, 7-iron.
18th: Driver, 2-hybrid.

My main issues are:

  • I am physically sick about the opening tee shot.
  • I can’t really reach the par-3 9th.
  • The 8th and 10th require you to hit it straight about 310 and definitely not hook it.

Monday May 27

Go to Clumber Park in Nottingham for the day with family. Kids fall asleep on the way home and are therefore awake until midnight.

Justine can see that I am chewing and kicks me out to the golf course. Hit a basket working on my new routine and posting better. See Moortown’s local hero Ben Firth on the chipping green, I am playing a practice round with him. Ask him how he is playing he says “really, really well”. He asks me how I’m feeling and I say I am “shitting myself”.

He also says our round on Wednesday will be about short game, and he is doing his full round the day before. He will win the Brabazon.

I go and play twoball betterball, working on my new routine and sticking to my clubbing strategy. Play seven holes, the last four of which are in 7-under. I am feeling the best I have ever felt about this or any other golf tournament. Maybe I will win the Brabazon.

I decide to hit a few bunker shots before I leave and fat and thin them alternately. Ben will win the Brabazon.

Text Jack and suggest we use our two-hour session the next day for round simulation, mainly so I can be like Ben. Jack says he thinks this is a silly idea, and he also messed up his diary and now has no time. Consider sacking Jack.

I get home and decide to write in my black book my yardages and my feelings for the week but I can’t find it so I do it in Notes instead:

  • Always look for the circle of trust (c/o Geoff Harris) essentially aiming to miss where no harm is done.
  • Always hit the shot you are comfortable with hitting (c/o Geoff Harris/Bob Rotella) like this although not sure what this leaves with on the 8th tee.
  • Stick to new routine (c/o me).
  • Do your three-hole resets (c/o Karl Morris).
  • Look for the retinal after glow on putts (c/o Gary Nicol).

I think that is it.

Get back to my to do list:

  • Driving: Tick
  • Fairway woods: Only use 2-hybrid, tick
  • Hybrids: See above.
  • Irons: Tick
  • Pitching: Tick
  • Chipping: Tick
  • Bunkers: Getting worse
  • Body: Must keep doing stretches and moving around

Missed week 6 of my preparation for the Brabazon Trophy? Head to the next page…