The Difference between Writing Fiction and Non-Fiction

timetravel

Non-fiction is as easy as falling off a piece of cake – excuse the mixed metaphor, compared to fiction………….in some ways. Particularly in one quite essential way………………. In terms of retaining your sanity.

I write golf books. Books about golf courses. I know. I know. How many ways are there to describe grass?. It’s a challenge. There is slightly more to it than that, but in terms of dramatic comedic effect let’s leave it at that. But once you’ve done the work it’s there. It’s pinned and nailed down. It doesn’t move.

However, writing a novel is like trying to nail water to a piece of glass.  Every time you get something sorted – you write a lovely little speech, describe something mystical or marvelous – something happens with the plot. A character needs to be in two places at once, or they disappear, or the location is wrong, or they’re in the wrong century. Look, I’m not trying to write ‘The Time Traveler’s wife’ here. It’s not complicated. Well, it’s not complicated in my head at least. I’ve got the characters on cards, on ‘Scrivener’ and in numerous, numerous notebooks.  I just wish these characters would just stay still instead of moving around all over the place. Whenever I want someone to just appear and say something pointed and plot-movingonly (it is a word), they are somewhere else. Sometimes they’re in Colorado having breakfast with a nun, or they may be dead or not yet born. All very, very inconvenient. So I change it and then the next crisis comes when the nun in Colarado turns up looking for someone to have breakfast with.

I hate it when people say that the characters ‘develop a life of their own’ as if that were a good thing. I’m on my 8th final draft at the moment and it’s driving me crazy. I want this done now. I want them to all stay where they should be whilst I finish the book. I can then go back to writing about grass, meadows, swards, pastures, weed, marijuana, green, mary jane, narcs and informants.

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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Nob

In a rare, I wish, diversion from writing, I started wondering what photo of myself I would put on the inside of my soon to be finished, yeah right, book cover.

This is vital to me now. I’m having a bit of a plot crisis. Without giving too much away, I’m stuck trying to get person A to tell person B something about event X without involving an element of time travel.  So naturally I need to put the book on hold and focus on the photograph I will select to put on the inside back cover.

I want to look intelligent, but not too academic. Funny with an air of gravitas at the same time. I want to exude a feeling of, ‘this is someone I would like to go for a drink with, or a game of golf.’ On the other hand I want to be a person you can identify with as someone who would be comfortable alone at times thinking really deep thoughts.

I just needed a photo of me that will do this. I looked. The photos I have of me make me look like, well – you tell me:

Exhibit A:

byrona

I’m not sure what feeling I was trying to portray on this day. Probably an air of aloofness, casualness. The jacket and the jumper (really?) should suggest some kind of rebelliousness. Not quite James Dean but a bit ‘hey look at me – I’m cool and hip’ (what! people don’t say hip any more?, nor cool?).  Note hands in my pockets. I would have been told off for that when I was younger but look at me now – Living on the edge. Edgy as f***.

Note background – wall. It says I’m urban. I’m down with the yoofs, living off my wits, off the streets. It’s my old house in Formby. Lancashire. A quote from Wikipedia explains the town in 10 words;

“Formby is affluent with high owner-occupation and car ownership”

But that was then. This is now. I don’t live there anymore man. I’m keeping it real now – back to my roots. Back to Welsh valleys – yeah. Which is actually sort of true, as it happens. Not a purely conscious choice but hey… let’s stay in the now, man.

So this photo doesn’t really fit the bill.

Exhibit B, m’lud.

byron1

In this one I think I was aiming for a little bit arty, a little bit edgy here as well. Black and white as well – rad eh?

Note the indistinct painting behind that should say ‘look at me I’m an artist’. In actual fact it was a drawing my young pre-school child did and, like the pretentious, nurturng , supportive parent I am – I put it in a frame and hung it on the wall.

That’s the image I think I’m going for here. Kind to children. Maybe I need a small animal to be rescuing, or a certificate of my support of the RSPCA somewhere, just on the edge of shot.

Also note my stern, unsmiling look. This is partly, mostly, based on being a serious artist. It’s also partly based on my arm getting tired holding the camera. This must have been the twentieth shot I had taken as it really is difficult to focus the camera at this angle. .

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, also note a radical change – indistinct clothing – proletariat clothing. No shirt and tie for me, man. I’m no slave to the system. You don’t catch me working for the man. Well, actually you do. I was working for the Civil Service office in Southport at the time.

Still, it looks a little better than exhibit A, even though it is 2,000% more pretentious. And it is probably one of the world’s first selfies. God I was so ahead of my time.

I shall continue my quest and get back to you ………………….

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Why Do You Play Golf?

Why Do You Play Golf?

There’s a fundamental question you need to ask yourself when you play golf. This is not the obvious question golf books / non golfers would suggest the questions you ask yourself are;

it’s not;
a. how much am I  willing to spend on the game ? or
b. how much time am I willing to commit ?

Those aren’t real questions. Once you’ve got ‘the bug’ you know what the answer to those questions will be;
a. as much as I can afford  and then some more
b. see answer to a. above

No, the fundamental question to ask about golf is, “What do I want to get from a round of golf; enjoyment or getting the lowest score?”

How you answer this question will influence your whole approach to the game. I read a book from John Daly recently and his first chapter was all about… turning up early and practicing – the irony, I thought. However it made absolute sense though. If you are serious about getting the lowest score you can then you need to spend 20 minutes or so warming up. Otherwise you will lose 3 shots each round (a conservative estimate to me).

How many players in your club spend 2 minutes let alone 20 practicing before a round? Stretching and taking 3 swings with a 5 iron don’t really count.

If you want to play golf for fun then don’t leave the house until 5 minutes before your tee time. Or, stay in the bar until someone comes in to tell you your playing partners have teed off. However, don’t be surprised when you come in with another 100+ round.

It may well not be as straightforward as that though. You, like me, may well feel that you really want to score as low as you can because that’s where the fun is. That’s the challenge. So we may occasionally get to the club a few minutes early and have a quick half-hearted putt before we stroll to the first tee.

Part of the problem is not a big deal but just requires some thought and a little courage. In psychology / management jargon it’s about making a choice – Do you want to look good? Or do you want to get the job done?

A classic example of ‘looking good’ instead of ‘getting the job done’ crops up when you are 3 feet short of the green. How do you deal with shots just off the green. Do you, like me, sometimes choose a pitching wedge from 6 feet wide of the green rather than use a putter?  I know a putter will get me closer on 8 out of 10 occasions yet somehow it doesn’t feel right. I feel that I should use a wedge. There’s a pressure on me, a macho, male thing about having to copy the professionals. I can see it in the faces of most of my playing partners – they all feel the same. They’d rather lose a hole going for that ‘tiny gap between the trees and fading it around the corner’ shot than adopt the sensible ‘just chip it back on the fairway’ route. This isn’t everyone – just most of them. The one that doesn’t do this plays off scratch. Perhaps there’s a lesson there.

Ironically the main problem comes when I’ve hit the best drive of my life on the shortish par 5 7th. I know now that I should hit a nice iron, chip over the pond and have a putt for a birdie.
However…. there are demons in my head saying;
“Go on, get a 3 wood and go for it.”, “When will you ever get the chance of doing this again?”, “Go on – wimp.”
So I do and it goes in the pond, I duff the chip, 3 putt and hit driver off every tee thereafter and come in at double figures over my handicap.

So are you saying be boring and don’t take any risks?
Well not really – I’m advocating take a sensible risk and don’t sulk if it goes wrong and don’t carry on taking risks if it works… if you’re committed to getting the best score you can. If you committed to having fun then, in the words of the enigma that is John Daly, “Grip it and rip it.”

However if you are committed to getting a lower score, as I am, then perhaps the next time I’m on the edge of a par 4 in 2 I’m going to reach for a putter, lag it up and tap in for a par……. well, maybe as long as none of my regular playing partners are watching.

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‘Bring Me the Head of Sergio Garcia’ Tom Cox – review of perfect book with perfect title

tomcox

“Here. Listen to this bit ….. After he was disqualified for playing the wrong ball he drove off thinking of the only consolation he had. The only hole he had played properly. Listen – “I smiled to myself: the first hole was supposed to be the hardest, and at least I could give myself a pat on the back for completing that. As if on cue, my clubs fell off the back of the buggy.’”. I stood there waiting for my partner to laugh or cry – she did neither. She didn’t really get golf.

“So what about his cat? “, she added. “This was before the cat… well he peed on his bag…. but it doesn’t matter. Oh forget it.” She really didn’t get golf.

Bring me the Head of Sergio Garcia’ is an amazing book. It’s the perfect blend of stupidity, humour, pathos, stubbornness and golf. It is the first novelish / biographyish book about golf that really works. I had, unfortunately, been given one of Dan Jenkins’ appalling tomes a few months ago and it had almost ruined my taste for any golf books.  I’m so glad I bought Tom Cox’s book. It restored my faith in writing about golf and made me incredibly jealous at the same time. He writes so effortlessly and apparently casually that you know it has taken a long time and a great deal of care. It’s pitched (pun intended) perfectly for all of us middle aged, used to be good at something once, sportsmen / writers who want to believe ‘they could have been contenders. It’s hilarious. Buy it. Now.

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Learn Welsh With Byron – Lesson 1

bale

Lesson 1 – How to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in Welsh

It’s quite straightforward.

Just follow the table below (kindly provided by clwb malu cachu ( www.clwbmalucachu.co.uk ) ) – assuming of course you know whether you want to speak in existential present, past or future, imperfect, imperfect preterite, or inflected preterite or, of course, inflected future.

We’re simple folk.

Next time – How to swear in Welsh.

Interrogative Yes No
Existential present
is/are there? oes? oes nac oes
Existential imperfect (past)
was/were there? oedd? oedd nac oedd
Existential future
will there be? fydd? bydd na fydd
Present
am i? ydw i? wyt/ydych nac wyt/ydych
are you? (wyt) ti? ydw nac ydw
is he? ydy/yw e? ydy nac ydy/yw
is she? ydy/yw hi? ydy nac ydy/yw
are we? ydan ni?/(yd)yn ni? ydych/ydyn nac ydych/ydyn
are you? (y)dach chi?/
(yd)ych chi?
ydw/ydyn nac ydw/ydyn
are they? ydyn nhw? ydyn nac ydyn
Imperfect (written)
was i? oeddwn i? oeddet/ oeddech nac oeddet/ oeddech
were you? oeddet ti? oeddwn nac oeddwn
was he? oedd e? oedd nac oedd
was she? oedd hi? oedd nac oedd
were we? oedden ni? oedden nac oedden
were you? oeddech chi? oeddwn/oedden nac oeddwn/oedden
were they? oedden nhw? oedden nac oedden
Imperfect (spoken)
was i? o’n i? o’t/o’ch nac o’t/o’ch
were you? o’t ti? o’n nac o’n
was he? oedd e? oedd nac oedd
was she? oedd hi? oedd nac oedd
were we? o’n ni? o’n nac o’n
were you? o’ch chi? o’n nac o’n
were they? o’n nhw? o’n nac o’n
Future
will I (be)? fydda i? byddi/byddwch na fyddi/ fyddwch
will you (be)? fyddi di? bydda(f) na fydda(f)
will he (be)? fydd e? bydd na fydd
will she (be)? fydd hi? bydd na fydd
will we (be)? fyddwn ni? byddwn na fyddwn
will you (be)? fyddwch chi? bydda(f)/byddwn na fydda(f)/fyddwn
will they (be)? fyddan nhw? byddan na fyddan
Inflected preterite (simple past)
did i…? -es/-ais i? do naddo
did you…? -est ti? do naddo
did he…? -odd e? do naddo
did she…? -odd hi? do naddo
did we…? -on ni? do naddo
did you…? -och chi? do naddo
did they…? -on nhw? do naddo
Preterite of ‘bod’
have I been (to)? fues/fu^m* i? do naddo
have you been (to)? fuest ti? do naddo
has he been (to)? fu(odd) e? do naddo
has she been (to)? fu(odd) hi? do naddo
have we been (to)? fuon/fuom* ni? do naddo
have you been (to)? fuoch chi? do naddo
have they been (to)? fuon nhw?/fuont hwy* do naddo
*more formal
Inflected future
will I? -a i? do naddo
will you? -i di? do naddo
will he? -ith e/o? do naddo
will she? -ith hi? do naddo
will we? -wn ni? do naddo
will you? -wch chi? do naddo
will they? -an nhw? do naddo
Galla – can
can I? alla i? gelli/galli/gallwch na elli/alli/allwch
can you? alli/elli* di? galla na alla
can he? all e? gall na all
can she? all hi? gall na all
can we? allwn ni? gallwn na allwn
can you? allwch/ellwch chi? galla/gallwn na alla/allwn
can they? allan nhw? gallan na allan
*elli di is more common
Medra (north) – can
can I? fedra i? medri/medrwch na fedri/fedrwch
can you? fedri di? medra na fedra
can he? fedr* fo? medr na fedr
can she? fedr hi? medr na fedr
can we? fedrwn ni? medrwn na fedrwn
can you? fedrwch chi? medra/medrwn na fedra/fedrwn
can they? fedran nhw? medran na fedran
*often pronounced ‘fedar’
Gallwn – could
could I? allwn i? gallet/gallech na allet/allech
could you? allet ti? gallwn na allwn
could he? allai fe? gallai na allai
could she? allai hi? gallai na allai
could we? allen ni? gallen na allen
could you? allech chi? gallwn/gallen na allwn/allen
could they? allen nhw? gallen na allen
Medrwn – could
could I? fedrwn i? medret/ medrech na fedret/fedrech
could you? fedret ti? medrwn na fedrwn
could he? fedrai fo? medrai na fedrai
could she? fedrai hi? medrai na fedrai
could we? fedren ni? medren na fedren
could you? fedrech chi? medrwn/ medren na fedrwn/fedren
could they? fedren nhw? medren na fedren
Byddwn – would
would I? fyddwn i? byddet/byddech na fyddet/fyddech
would you? fyddet ti? byddwn na fyddwn
would he? fyddai fe? byddai na fyddai
would she? fyddai hi? byddai na fyddai
would we? fydden ni? bydden na fydden
would you? fyddech chi? byddwn/bydden na fyddwn/fydden
would they? fydden nhw? bydden na fydden
Baswn – would
would I? (fa)swn i? (ba)set/(ba)sech na (fa)set/(fa)sech
would you? (fa)set ti? (ba)swn na (fa)swn
would he? (fa)sai fo? (ba)sai na (fa)sai
would she? (fa)sai hi? (ba)sai na (fa)sai
would we? (fa)sen ni? (ba)sen na (fa)sen
would you? (fa)sech chi? (ba)swn/(ba)sen na (fa)swn/(fa)sen
would they? (fa)sen nhw? (ba)sen na (fa)sen
Dylwn – ought to/should
ought/should I? ddylwn i? dylet/dylech na ddylet/ddylech
ought/should you? ddylet ti? dylwn na ddylwn
ought/should he? ddylai fe/fo? dylai na ddylai
ought/should she? ddylai hi? dylai na ddylai
ought/should we? ddylen ni? dylen na ddylen
ought/should you? ddylech chi? dylwn/dylen na ddylwn/ddylen
ought/should they? ddylen nhw? dylen na ddylen
Dylswn – ought to/should
ought/should I? ddylswn i? dylset/dylsech na ddylset/ddylsech
ought/should you? ddylset ti? dylswn na ddylswn
ought/should he? ddylsai fe/fo? dylsai na ddylsai
ought/should she? ddylsai hi? dylsai na ddylsai
ought/should we? ddylsen ni? dylsen na ddylsen
ought/should you? ddylsech chi? dylswn/dylsen na ddylswn/dylsen
ought/should they? ddylsen nhw? dylsen na ddylsen
Hoffwn – would like
would I like? hoffwn i? hoffet/hoffech na hoffet/hoffech
would you like? hoffet ti? hoffwn na hoffwn
would he like? hoffai fe? hoffai na hoffai
would she like? hoffai hi? hoffai na hoffai
would we like? hoffen ni? hoffen na hoffen
would you like? hoffech chi? hoffwn/hoffen na hoffwn/hoffen
would they like? hoffen nhw? hoffen na hoffen
Leiciwn – would like
would I like? leiciwn i? leiciet/leiciech na leiciet/leiciech
would you like? leiciet ti? leiciwn na leiciwn
would he like? leiciai fe? leiciai na leiciai
would she like? leiciai he? leiciai na leiciai
would we like? leicien ni? leicien na leicien
would you like? leiciech chi? leiciwn/leicien na leiciwn/leicien
would they like? leicien nhw? leicien na leicien

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“My name is Byron and I am a golfer.”

itreallyworks

 

 

I believe this – “When you play a golf ball that is properly fit for your game, your shot execution will improve and you will shoot lower scores.”

and will buy this – 

“Even Softer Feel, More Distance and Longer Lasting. Tour-proven around the globe, the Titleist Pro V1® golf ball is engineered to deliver exceptional distance, consistent flight, very soft feel, Drop-and-Stopgreenside control and longer lasting durability. The multi-component construction of the Pro V1® golf ball utilises a softer compression ZG process core technology, features a responsive ionomeric casing layer, and an improved high-performance Urethane Elastomer cover system with a 352 tetrahedral dimple design.”

titlist

I believe this –

“When you slip on this specially structured compression shirt you will feel a sensation of “connection” which is exactly what the best ball-strikers feel as they are swinging.”

and am willing to look to like this

golfswingshirt-300x336

I believe there are things out there that things can help my putting accuracy, muscle memory, driving distance and decrease my scoring average by 10 shots in a week. For example –

the X is a very clever helper. A mini-computer that clamps to your driver (a putter version is being developed), it takes a million measurements per second to track the crucial speed of the swing right up to when club head meets ball. Slowing down the swing before impact is said to be a major problem for players of all levels. So, using the X, it’s possible to self-correct and gain those crucial extra yards.

and I am willing to buy things like this –

 

golfaid

 

I read about things like this-

“a kinaesthetic golf training aid which can be used at home or at the golf course. It develops your muscle memory of the optimum golf swing, helping you feel what it’s like to hit the perfect shot.”

 

and will buy things like this this-

 

golfaid4

Why? It’s no different from anything else – stopping smoking, writing that novel. We want a magic way to move from a hacker to a single figure handicap without  all the time, effort and application. 

It’s pathetic really – as if the clothing wasn’t bad enough. There is some hope however –

I read this –

“It’s a true innovation in getting the most out of each trip to the restroom.? Get one for the office and one for home.? Finally, you can play some golf without all those bothersome people? ”

But  didn’t buy this –

bathroom_golf

 

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Poker Players say the funniest things

GodsPlayPoker

“In a game of poker, I can put players’ souls in my pocket.” – Beausourire

“Poker reveals to the frank observer something else of import—it will teach him about his own nature. Many bad players do not improve because they cannot bear self-knowledge.” – David Mamet

“In the absence of any mathematical explanation, one thing is for certain; if you engage in games of chance long enough, the experience is bound to affect the way you see God. Successfully draw to an inside straight three hands in a row, and you’ve got to be blessed. But if you’re the person drawn out on, the one whose trip aces just got snapped for the third time, you will go home feeling cursed. ” – Andy Bellin

“Poker’s a day to learn and a lifetime to master.” – Robert Williamson III

 “Poker is a microcosm of all we admire and disdain about capitalism and democracy. It can be rough-hewn or polished, warm or cold, charitable and caring, or hard and impersonal, fickle and elusive, but ultimately it is fair, and right, and just.” – Lou Kreiger

 “In life’s poker game, the optimist sees the pessimist’s night and raises him the sunrise.” – Robert Brault

“Cards are war, in disguise of a sport.” – Charles Lamb

“No matter how much you may want to think of Holdém as a card game played by people, in many respects it is even more valid to think of it as a game about people that happens to be played with cards.” – Phil Hellmuth

“I believe in poker the way I believe in the American Dream. Poker is good for you. It enriches the soul, sharpens the intellect, heals the spirit, and – when played well, nourishes the wallet.” – Lou Kreiger

 

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Golfers say the funniest things

pretentiousgolf

 

“In no other sport does the nature of the contest allow the players to be so free of jealousy and enmity, so willing to help and support each other and be so sincere in their acceptance of each other’s success.– Jack Nicklaus

“Golf is a game, not a sport” – Larry Ramirez

“To find a man’s true character, play golf with him.”- PG Wodehouse

“Golf has made me and shaped me into the person I am here today.” – Tiger Woods

“Golf is a spiritual game. It’s like Zen. You have to let your mind take over.” – Amy Alcott

“The main idea in golf as in life, I suppose is to learn to accept what cannot be altered and to keep on doing one’s own reasoned and resolute best whether the prospect be bleak or rosy.” – Bobby Jones

“Eighteen holes of match or medal play will teach you more about your foe than will 18 years of dealing with him across a desk” – Grantland Rice

“Yes, I did talk to my players, but my vice captains were very instrumental in making decisions.” – Tom Watson

“What other people find in poetry or art museums l, I find in the flight of a good drive.” – Arnold Palmer

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“What would Tom do?”

Kicking Racism Out of golf ( eventually)

Kicking Racism Out of golf (eventually)

Waiting on the 2nd tee the discussion invariably was of the Open. In essence the argument was on who’s camp you were in. It was not Tiger v Phil Mickelson, but rather Phil Mickelson v Tom Watson. It was agreed (by some) that Tom Watson was ‘a real gentleman’ whereas Phil Mickleson was a bit arrogant, cocky and fundamentally too ‘smiley’.
“He doesn’t look like he suffers enough” said someone.

It became a theme of the round after that “What would Tom do?”. It seemed to have a profound effect as in the round we let a junior 2 ball though and waited for a green to clear before we drove off. Ah, the power of Tom.

This prompted me to do a little research on Tom. I had read that he had done at least one good thing in Kansas City so I looked for more tales. For people who don’t know Tom Watson had resigned from the ‘ultra-restrictive’ Kansas City Country Club to protest the club’s blackballing of Jewish tax-preparation tycoon Henry Bloch. Although Watson is not Jewish, his wife, Linda, and their two children are. Watson was quoted as saying that his conscience had forced him to resign “out of respect for my family—my wife, my children and myself.”

Well done Tom.

Then I read that Tom had been a member of this Country Club that had secret membership that seemed to be discriminatory for many, many years. So, why did Tom wait until a Jewish millionaire friend was rejected before he spoke out?

I looked for more Country Clubs Tom had resigned from or criticised because of perceived racist or religious discrimination. I was disappointed.  I read that earlier Tom had said that people should “chill out” and that private clubs had the right to choose their members.

I found other reports of Tom and controversy though. Apparently at the 1993 Ryder Cup pre-match dinner Sam Torrance picked up a programme and in a gesture of camaraderie walked over to ask Tom Watson for his autograph. Tom refused. He said that he didn’t want his players bothered by autograph hunters.

This seems as childish as the report of the 1969 Ryder Cup captain Eric Brown telling his players not to look for American balls in the rough.

He doesn’t seem to be popular with everyone; Los Angeles Times columnist Larry Stewart called Watson a “backstabber,” while Jonathan Rand of the hometown Kansas City Star settled for “stuffed shirt.”

Watson criticised Bill Murray for inappropriate antics in a charity Pro-Am.

He managed to get Gary McCord the sack for on-air quips by sending a handwritten demand to CBS director and producer Frank Chirkinian to “get rid of him, now.”

In a positive article John Garrity describes him;  “Watson always seeks the middle ground. He likes Rush Limbaugh……….”

Tom said of Tiger Woods, “I feel that he has not carried the same stature as other great players like Jack Nickolas, Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson or the Hogans, in the sense that there was language and club throwing on the golf course. You can grant that of a young person that has not been out here for awhile. But I think he needs to clean up his act and show the respect for the game that other people before him have shown.”

Tom Watson is a real old-fashioned, 18th century gentleman. He is a man from a different age. A man with real Victorian values. It’s no wonder he’s so popular with so many golf club members around the world – including Bargoed.

Mr Happy – not if he came to Bargoed

Phil Mickelson on the other hand is young and wore a bleeper during the 1999 U.S. Open when his wife Amy was expecting the couple’s first child (“Wouldn’t be allowed in Bargoed”)

In an article on Mickelson ArtSpander says “It bothers some that Mickelson plays without a scowl, waving at the fans who yell his name, eating up the approval…..Phil is outwardly gracious when asked about Tiger’s success, affirming him as the world No. 1. He’s agreed that, in the previous five months, with Woods not around, golf was poorer in his absence.

His personality is pretty well summed up in ‘Shanghai’s Oriental Morning Post ‘:
“Without a doubt Mickelson is the most approachable star at Sheshan. When he hits a good shot he rewards fans’ applause by smiling or tipping his cap. When he goes through the crowd, if you put out your hand he’ll even give a ‘high-five.’ (“Wouldn’t happen in Bargoed”)

* first published 17/7/2010

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“Why don’t you relax and take up golf?”

angry

“Moderate exercise, such as playing a round of golf, may help protect people against future anxiety and stress.”  – a study by the University of Maryland

“Relax and have a game of golf,” people say. They could just as well say “I hear that your uncle’s been eaten by a tiger. Why don’t you take your mind off it and take a trip to the zoo?”

There should only be tips about reducing your stress whilst playing golf, not assuming that the very act of playing golf will somehow automatically reduce your stress. It is nonsense. Luckily, I’ve carried out a little research and have examined the top tips for reducing stress and tried to apply them to golf;

Tip 1. A good way to reduce your stress levels is to set yourself realistic targets

Sounds like a good idea. In principle I would be delighted to shoot a few shots under my handicap each time I play. However, when I’m playing the stroke index 3 par 5 and I’ve hit a glorious drive leaving me 200 yards from the green it would take the combined strength of Samson, Hercules and She-Ra to get the 3 wood out of my hand and make me hit me a mid-iron. The overwhelming majority of golfers play golf because of those rare, rare moments when they hit a shot as good as a Rory McIlroy or a Bradley Dredge. Most of us know that a 7 iron, wedge and 2 putts will give us lots of stableford points but that really isn’t the game is it? There are those amongst us that calculate the chances of success at each shot and play the percentages. These people often win tournaments and are ‘good clubmen’ (they will be men). However, they are solid, sad, unloved, boring. Their only aspiration in life is to be in the top 10 % best handicap secretaries in the South Wales region (South East valleys area).

Tip 2. When you have completed a task take a few minutes to pause and reflect before you start a new one.

It seems that many golfers are already doing this judging by the amount of time it takes 4 people to walk 10 yards to a tee and hit a ball in the general direction of the next green.

Tip 3. Address problems as they occur. Don’t let them build up.

Let your stress out as you go along – If you miss a putt … let it out. If you top a tee shot… let it out. Don’t save it all up and go home and kick the cat. Sometimes you can take this too far; I once saw someone on the 7th par 3 at Dewstow. He was having a bad, bad day after a number of bad, bad weeks and after topping 3 titleists into the pond he followed this us by sending his bag and golf clubs after them. He stormed across the course toward the clubhouse. He had only stormed about 100 yards before he turned back and walked sheepishly back to the pond. He walked right past us and into the water. He waded towards his bag where he pulled out his golf bag. he unzipped the pocket and brought out his car keys.

This aspect of letting go of  your emotions doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem for golfers at Bargoed Golf Club. I know what the groups 3 holes in front of me are doing every shot of their round.

Tip 4: Stay in the ‘here and now’

OK this sounds very another lot of pschological twaddle but I really like it. If I were calling myself a consultant psychological sports guru and charged you £2,000 per day you’d listen to me if I told you this. It really means hit one shot at a time. Often we’re hitting a shot and worrying about the putt, or the next tee shot, or the winners speech. When I was very new at the game a pal of mine who was also new, and quite a good player was always wide on par 3s. He eventually told me that he was worried about getting a hole in one and having to buy everyone a drink as he was invariably skint. So – hit the ball. Find it. Hit the ball. Find it…..

Tip 5: Avoid all drugs including tobacco and alcohol

Oh please….

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