Happy Paddy’s Day to you all! Yes, I know I’m a day late but I’m sure there are celebrations still going on somewhere and I wanted to share Mary McKenna’s card with you (above). In these times we could all do with a hug but we mustn’t forget to give them as well.
After the success of Patricia’s two minute lesson the other day I’ve had a heartfelt cry for help from a blog reader in the States who is a little fed up with the way the unwelcome shanks insist on visiting him when he’s chipping. The shanks can suck the life out of you on a golf course and replace enjoyment with dread – definitely not a happy state of affairs. So, here are a few things that should help.
Firstly, you need to understand exactly where on the club you strike the ball when you hit a shank. Forgive me for stating the obvious but the contact is where the shaft of the club attaches to the head. Ideally, of course, the contact should be in the centre of the clubface. Please don’t concern yourself too much with the whys or the wherefores of why you are hitting the ball off the hosel. Focus on what it is you wish to do – ie to strike the ball from nearer the centre of the face.
Now, here are two little exercises – one for off the course and one for on the course. In the first drill place a sponge on the floor and address an imaginary ball as shown. Now make your chipping action and your job is simply to miss the sponge. Pay scant heed to how you do it – just miss the sponge. Overthinking your action seldom helps in golf and can completely tie you in knots in such a short movement as a chip. Understand that it is impossible to hit a shank with an action that misses the sponge. That should help build a little confidence.
The second tip is something you can do on the course. When you face a chip shot address the ball out of the middle of the face as you normally would, but do your best to strike the ball with the toe third of the face. As your chipping action begins to untangle itself you will notice that you perhaps do, indeed, strike the ball from the toe third of the face. When you do this consistently you can forget this thought and just go on ahead and concentrate on striking the ball from the middle of the face.
The most important thing is that you understand WHAT it is you need to do, not HOW you need to do it. Banish all thoughts of how you should/shouldn’t move your body or arms or head or whatever. That won’t help. Hopefully, this tip will.
Over the course of my broadcasting career I have been fortunate enough to work with and alongside some masters of their craft. Tony Adamson, long time Radio 5 golf correspondent and Peter Alliss, who needs no introduction, are two who spring instantly to mind. And a couple of years ago it was a great thrill for me to be on the same Masters broadcast team as Mike Tirico, one of America’s greatest sports broadcasters.
I have also been privileged enough to work with Andrew Cotter over many years and I think he’s the most talented of the lot – quick thinking, with immaculate timing and expertise at building suspense. The pacing of his delivery, no matter which sport he is commentating on and no matter the number of his co-commentators, is a joy.
Andrew is now known to millions who haven’t the slightest interest in sport. He has captured the hearts of dog lovers everywhere with his commentary lock-down videos of his two labs, Olive and Mabel, and the viral response to these gems of brilliance has resulted in Andrew, Olive and Mabel going on tour around the country.
My better half and I went to see his show last week in Chester and it was delightful – a couple of hours of sheer entertainment – do see it if you can. Andrew is always at his best and most comfortable when he doesn’t have to talk about himself so this is the perfect way to enjoy an evening in his company – and it’s even better if you’re a dog lover.
Following on from the appointment of Zach Johnson the other week as the American Ryder Cup captain for 2023, Europe this week announced they were entrusting the reins of their campaign to Swedish major winner Henrik Stenson. Five times a player in the event, Stenson certainly is not short on credentials but what a difficult decision it must have been for the selection panel. Luke Donald, Paul Lawrie, Robert Karlsson, Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari and Ian Poulter – all in their forties except for Molinari who hits that mark this November – all would be worthy choices. Trouble is there aren’t enough teams to go round. The accepted thinking is that if you’re too removed from your playing days, (ie too old) you will have lost touch with your prospective team members. Alas, several in that illustrious list look set to miss out on one of the greatest accolades golf can bestow.
In the meantime, however, it’s over to Henrik and Rome in 2023. Can’t wait.