Sunday, 7 February 2010

The Golfing Journey: The Beginning

1.00 Topic: Introduction
Welcome to my golfing blog, I hope it finds you well. The aim of this blog is
i) Document my journey from being a complete novice (i.e. pro at hitting air) to an average ‘half-decent’ player (although currently unsure whether it can be achieved or not).
ii) Give hope to other beginners.
iii) Talk about golf in general, equipment/share tips/gain further knowledge and host some cheeky polls if time permits.
iv) Hear your comments/thoughts.

I hope to update this blog as and when there have been any developments on my golfing journey.

2.00 Topic: Journey to date.
The Bug
Right, well I have the golfing bug, it is a fantastic bug and a great sport. If you are yet to discover the bug, give it a bash and then give it another attempt. A doctor is likely diagnose the ‘bug’ as having a ‘want’ or ‘need’ to play golf whenever possible.

For me the initial key was to go through ‘pain’ barrier, from not being able to hit a ball, to then one day ping the ball a fair distance (albeit not consistently). Once you get that great shot from an iron/hear the ping from the driver and you see the ball land in the distance, you have graduated from kindergarden on the golfing journey.

How did I fall into this great sport? I hear you groan, however, you are still reading which is a good thing. Let me continue:

In 2009 I was given the daunting task of playing at Glen Eagles in Scotland on a ’stag do’. This was truly a baptism of fire. I had had no golfing lessons prior or extensive experience. In preparation, I on average visited the nearby golf range using my fathers old clubs two/three times a week before the baptism. Hitting around 100 balls for £5 there was improvement, but the source for my technique was largely youtube videos or reading various books. Having gained the ability to hit the ball (more times than hitting air) I took on one of the homes of Golf.

Now for any beginner, the first tee can be daunting, but at Glen Eagles there was perhaps a little more pressure. 18 potential monsters, of which you hope to tame. It doesn’t help if there is an audience watching. I had decided to stick to the five iron which soon became a good buddy of mine, although we would fall out more or less on every hole. Having watched my golfing partner slice the ball a couple of feet, some pressure was lifted. I stepped up, tried to remember my technique, swung, ‘clump’. A foot of turf was sent into the air, it travelled around five meters and the ball did not fare much better. Yes this was embarrassing, yet luckily the man in the hut (who’s role is to check that green fees have been paid) had been looking in the opposite direction. A quick fetch of the divot and I managed to replace the tear (followed by a gulp and a determination to proceed).

In a nutshell, it was a tough course, but an honour to play. The God’s decided to rain, torrential at times, the wind howled but it was manageable. I left a club in the rough and on another occasion it was so wet I lost grip on another club and it went further than the ball. However, despite the baptism of Fire I can conclude that yes there were a number of 8’s/rings but drum roll I did manage two level pars. It was the two level pars that gave me the encouragement to continue, I had the potential to hit good shots.

3.00 Lessons
Well ladies and gentlemen. Drum roll, I finally did the deed and enrolled for golf lessons. Now, to all beginners I strongly strongly recommend lessons from a PGA Coach. To date I have only had one lesson and unsurprisingly it was the best golfing lesson to date. The lesson involved lights, camera and action i.e. technology.

Using a computer program and camcorder, you can create a profile which shows your swing, posture/grip and compares it to leading golfers such as Mr Ernie Els.
Quite a revelation looking at one’s posture. I was hunched, had bad posture, poor grip and well it looked a mess (some may have called security). The PGA chap, gave me a new grip and stance. Comparing the old stance vs the new stance on video was a comical experience. Prior to the lesson, I did not look like a golfer, a transformation was needed.

Now, the plan was to put this new knowledge into practice at the next 18 hole outing. Yes it was part-successful, some sweet shots but again, more often than not, I would miss the ball or hit air. This proved to be very frustrating, two/three good shots with the five iron and then a scuff/miss. I contemplated taking a boxing bag on a separate golfing trolley, but the key was to keep a level head. Despite such frustrations, I persevered with the driver. To date, I had avoided the driver as my consistency had been far worse than the irons. Yet a driver is certainly crucial to playing 4/5 par holes. For every one strike from the 5 iron, my golfing companions had gone double the distance. For the last 9 holes, I used the driver, it worked and the ball went 200 yards. Perhaps with more lessons/a better swing it could go further, time will tell. The moral of the story is, a driver can save you shots, as long as you have accuracy. I will go into the short game in another blog entry.

Key Things Learnt from Lesson 1:
-Get lessons and then book some more.
-Ensure you have the right grip.
-Keep the left arm straight as you hold the club.
-Ensure your head is to the right of the ball (the straight left arm should cause your shoulders to dip slightly like a seesaw with a weight on one side).
-Knees should be slightly flexed.
-Your back should be straight, not hunched and the bum out slightly.
-Concentrate on the ball.
-I strongly recommend the video profiling.

Right, I will update once the second lesson has been conquered. Key areas I need to develop are a) adopt a good swing maintaining a good stance- b) improve with the SW and PW…they are gremlins at present.

Any other beginners out there or wise comments would be appreciated.


  1. Amusing stuff, captain. Like youself, I'm a new recruit to the golfing world, having been bought a lesson by my brother for Christmas. The thought of taking on a full 18 holes is still too intimadating for me though; I think I'm going to stick to the driving range for the moment.

    That said, the satisfying "ping" you mentioned when you send a ball rocketing down the fairway is enought to keep me coming back for more.

    Good advice on the video profiling. Sounds like a sensible way to sort out the swing and I think i'll have to invest.

    Keep the good tips coming.

  2. Afternoon Mr Whittall, thank you for your post.

    I think it is wise to stay on the driving range to improve the confidence factor. However, you will hit more shots on 18 holes and it probably works out cheaper than just going to the driving range, open to debate though.

    I have heard mixed reports that some folk can produce the magic at the driving range but on an actual course form escapes them. Something to do with one's rhythm, ie out on the course you mix up the clubs and alternate with different shots. Whilst at the driving range you usually focus on a couple of clubs and the body gets used to the given movement. Mixing the shots up on the course can disrupt the momentum.

    The 'ping' is a great noise....potential for a 'ping sound track' perhaps..

    I definitely give the video profiling a thumbs up, it will add more of an objective measure to your preparation.

    Speak soon!


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