Practice, as the maxim goes, makes perfect (or, in golfing terms, practice makes less imperfect). One problem. Practice, especially where the sacred short game is concerned, is just not as much fun as playing. How many times have you driven to the club intending to concentrate solely on chipping and putting, only to be met with an invitation for a swift nine and a couple of jars? Suddenly all resolve disappears and before you know it you?re standing on the first tee.

Even the actor, with a majority of his day free for golf, prefers to play a course, or on those rare occasions pound balls on the range, rather than practise the art of the wedge and the flat stick.

An idea occurred to me one night while watching the Golf Channel (one of my first questions to owners of prospective digs is ?Do you have Sky??). Dave Pelz, short game guru and guaranteed cure for insomnia, was demonstrating the benefits of a straight back/straight through putting stroke? in his hotel room? Brilliant.

The room at my digs was unsuitable due to antique pine floorboards with large gaps between them ? a tricky surface to read and a little fast. My dressing room at the theatre, however, was perfect.

So there I was, every interval, practising my straight back/straight through stroke. After a couple of weeks I became more adventurous. Grabbing the bin from beneath my desk and positioning it at one end of the room, I was able to practise delicate chips off a very tight lie. This idea was improved by two or three strategically placed cushions for my less accurate efforts.

I even flirted with full swings with longer clubs, but misjudging the height of one dressing room and burying the head of my 5-iron in the plaster board ceiling put paid to that idea. (There was also the rather unfortunate incident involving a chorus girl and a Wiffle ball, but I?d rather not talk about that.)

The immediate effect on my short game was disappointing. With the average dressing room carpet running at about 12 on the stimp meter, and the average spring green running at about 6, I found it impossible to get my ball within 10ft of the hole. But with summer now here it is beginning to bear more positive fruit.

Now if I can only find somewhere to put a bunker.

Golfing Translations

Thank you to all those who have mailed in their ideas? both of you have been very kind.

Odyssey two ball ? Scylla and Charybdis pop out for a quick 18.

Mr E. Trellis of the G.M.G.S. (Greek Mythological Golf Society)

Pro V1 ? Obi-Wan Kenobi?s golfing brother

Mr G Lucas (Los Angeles Golf Club)

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