Whenever you get hooked on one of those reality TV shows, there’s always an episode that should basically be titled ‘after the cameras have gone’. So we all pop back in for a fleeting moment and the Love Island couple have either married or it’s all ended in a fit of drama and a raging hangover.
Think of this column as a kind of golfing version – without the alcohol and tan lines.
When we revealed the results of our year-long Titleist custom fitting test there was plenty to smile about.
But if I’m truly honest with you, it came with an asterisk. An elephant in the room, if you will.
My handicap had gone up at the finish – by half a shot.
It was never meant to be the main measure of success but for most of us our handicap is still the ONLY relevant measure of success.
It’s the first question we’re asked on the tee. It’s the badge of our ability to play the game.
And mine had gone up.
That I’d risen from 10.6 to 11.2 had nothing to do with the 14 clubs I’d been fitted into by Titleist. They were performing marvellously.
It was all about the six inches between my ears.
You know, pressure is a funny thing.
I desperately wanted the test to go well, as much for my own pride as anything. But as I struggled for buffer after buffer I’d feel more and more angst about the process.
Every single shot I took from April until the end of June was recorded and if I missed a couple of early greens, or failed to hit a fairway, the anxiety would start to rise.
If, somehow, I managed to get to the back end of a round with my score still intact – and the prospect of a cut loomed ever closer – I’d get quick on a tee shot, scrap my way to a treble, and throw a day’s work in the bin.
It was with something of a sigh that I was able to finally put the stats away, stop thinking about percentages of three putts, and just play golf.
And wouldn’t you know it, something amazing happened.
In the September Stableford at Sandburn Hall I shot 40 points, or a gross 79 if you want to add it up the old fashioned way.
— Steve Carroll (@SteveCarrollNCG) September 8, 2018
I hit the ball properly, got up and down, made some putts and – with standard scratch at 74 – carved 1.2 off my handicap.
Buoyed by this new found form, I then popped in a supplementary the following week, recorded 37 points and crunched another 0.6 off the mark.
I’m now down to 9.4. I’m a single figure handicapper!
The daft thing is I’m positive there is still more to come. With a set of clubs that I truly feel comfortable with, there should be no excuses as I build towards the 2019 season.
So who says not every story has a happy ending?