June already. Can you believe it? I did the old “white rabbits” incantation first thing yesterday, the 1st of the month – why on earth or where it comes from I have no idea – and turned over the calendar to reveal the magnificent peacock in all his glory. Another Mary McKenna spectacular that’ll cheer up the next few weeks no end.On Tuesday, I got my wires crossed so instead of playing in the competition I slotted into a gap and played a few holes on my own. No card, no pencil, no pressure. Nul points but lots of fun despite being a bit chilly for shorts. I made myself hit clubs that usually remain in the bag, tried shots that aren’t part of my armoury – and discovered why! I wish I could say that I found a putting stroke that will prove infallible – but that wouldn’t be true. Some things never change.
Practice may make better but never perfect and these ageing bones steadfastly refuse to creak into any sort of shape vaguely recognisable as a golf swing. You have to be fitter than I am to make a decent fist of hitting the ball consistently well and ten minutes on the practice ground would be about my lot. Though the hot bath and massage afterwards hold a certain appeal.
Rooting through a pile of my never-diminishing stack of papers, I came across a VISION54 aide-memoire of Essential Playing Skills and wondered which ones I could practise in a small garden. Emotional resilience perhaps; tension awareness and decision & commitment possibly; but I decided to try balance. Not by standing on one leg but by hanging up a rug and beating it without falling back. Hmmm. More work needed.
Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott are the inspiring coaches behind this holistic approach and by pure chance I opened their book Play Your Best Golf Now (written with Ron Sirak) in the middle of the chapter called Find Your Balance. I had to double check how to spell the authors’ names – one ‘s’ or two; double ‘r’; an ‘e’ on the end? Daren’t get it wrong after all these years! – and you can’t pick up a book without opening it, can you?
“Balance is like fresh produce,” I read. “It can go bad very easily. It also changes from day to day…We are dynamic, changing human beings, and we will swing well more often if we do regular balance exercises as maintenance…
“For the sake of your golf, it’s very important that you are able to transfer stationary balance to rotational balance. That is what you need for your golf swing. We see many players who are able to stand on one leg with their eyes closed for thirty seconds [not me], but then when we ask them to rotate at the same time, they fall over right away…”
Did you hear the crash? That was me falling over as I failed to master the dynamics right away. Let me pick up the table, the lamp, the book, my glasses and mug and check that the laptop is still operational…
By all means try this at home – you’re all consenting adults after all – but my advice is not to attempt any of it without a lot of careful thought and plenty of support. Very soft furnishings are recommended.
Talking of furnishings, my spring/summer cleaning is progressing and I’m beaming, halo gleaming as I contemplate the corners – now hidden again behind chairs, sofas, chests, whatever – that I know are clear of cobwebs, corpses (mostly slaters who can infiltrate anywhere at will) and dust. It won’t last of course but there’ll be no early morning inspection to wipe the smile off my face.
It’s amazing what you come across under the sofa besides fluff, admittedly no coins of any sort or long-lost watches, nothing remotely useful but a photocopy of an old newspaper, date unknown. Goodness knows why it was there but it appealed to the nerd in me as I read that “Miss Agnes B. Honeyman (Blairgowrie) and Miss Joyce Wethered (Royal Dornoch) will be unable to take part in the first round of the Girls’ Open Championship at Stoke Poges to-day. Their places will be taken by Miss Nancy Griffiths (Sunningdale) and Miss Nancy Paull (Walton Heath), the former of whom is only 12 years of age.”
Why, I wonder, was Joyce, who became one of the game’s greatest, most celebrated players, entered from Dornoch? Why did she and Agnes have to withdraw? And did either Nancy train on?
By the way, don’t forget that the Vagliano Trophy match between the women amateurs of GB and I and Europe is at Royal Dornoch at the end of this month and the AIG Women’s Open is at Walton Heath in August.
Finally, many congratulations to John Huggan, a Scot of an iconoclastic bent, who has been writing knowledgeably and trenchantly about golf for several decades, on being honoured at The Memorial Tournament, Jack Nicklaus’s event in Columbus, Ohio, this week. Well deserved.