Those many admirers of my silky swing will be shocked to learn that I am going to have to rebuild it more or less from scratch. Although I?m not sure precisely what, I am quite certain that somewhere between addressing the ball and impact, something is going horribly wrong. The evidence is overwhelming. Last year, despite playing in countless competitions and various events, I only managed to break through the magic 30-point barrier on two occasions.
Since I?m not so anal as to keep a record of my scores, I can?t be certain but I would guess that I averaged about 25 points a round. Serious golfers will already be shaking their heads at the apparent concentration on wimpy Stablefords rather than manly medals but I?ve enough on my plate without worrying what single-figure obsessives might think.
My game began its inexorable decline about six years ago when I yipped a putt on the fourth green at my beloved Dale Hill. Although it pains me to recall it, if I shut my eyes I can still see the ball leaping off my putter head as if, instead of stroking it gently, I had shoved 100,000 volts through it. Thereafter, my delinquent putter assumed an irresponsible life of its own over which I had no control.
Like most things in golf, it was hugely embarrassing. Playing partners would look away and whoever had the misfortune to be tending the flag, concerned that they might be struck in the face, would often duck a fraction before I made imperfect contact. Although I recognise that it may have been my imagination, I swear that, when I addressed the ball on the green, even the birds stopped singing.
A reasonably rational human being, I tried to think my way through the crisis and applied my mind logically to the problem and adopted a variety of unconventional methods. First I tried the reverse, left-hand-below-right, putting technique. When that didn?t work, I switched to the claw. And when that didn?t work I bought a new putter and then another new putter. In desperation I turned to vegetarianism, then Scientology and finally Voodoo. Not only did nothing work but the condition, sickness, disease, malfunction? whatever you care to call it, spread backwards from the putting green to the fringe of the green so that I could no longer chip. Next my bunker play fell apart.
Up until very recently, I thought the problem was confined to the green and the area within about 50 yards of it but now my irons are beginning to disintegrate and my previously steady tee-shots that were the envy of many touring pros have begun to misbehave. At this rate, I will very shortly be incapable of tying my laces in the locker room.
Despite all the pain and frustration, I still love the game and part of its fascination for me is trying to sort out the problems. The big question is who should I turn to for help, a golf pro or a psychiatrist?