Last week I was out shopping with my wife and daughter for a new pair of trousers ?And you?re not ruining these by playing golf in them?. Picking up a pair of cream coloured linen slacks I headed for the fitting rooms. Choosing the first and largest cubicle available I started to undress. It was then that I noticed the two mirrors, one in front and one to my right.
Now lately I?ve been having a slight problem with what I perceived to be a flying right elbow resulting in a tug left. With these mirrors I now had the opportunity to view the problem from two different angles simultaneously. Gripping an imaginary club I took my stance. Moving to the top of my backswing I checked my position. Everything looked O.K. I started the downswing and there it was for all to see. The Fault. Instead of tucking my right elbow back in to my side at the start of the downswing, I was leaving it out there thus coming over the top et voila, Le Pull.
A few more swings, concentrating on the troublesome elbow and I felt confidant that I could take it to the course. Suddenly the door swung open to reveal my wife looking none too pleased at the sight of her husband wearing nothing but socks, a shirt, and boxers in what I believe was the perfect impact position. The trousers were untouched on their hanger.
?You?re a sad, sad, obsessed man?. My 11-month-old daughter just giggled.
Now I have to say that this isn?t the first time the word ?Obsessed? has been used in conjunction with me and golf, and not just by my wife. Perturbed I decided to call some equally ?Obsessed? golfing buddies to get their views and to find out if what golfing idiosyncrasies they admitted to. The results were quite revealing.
My good friend Tom Martin, a very handy 9, has no room in his Garage for a car due to the amount of golf equipment acquired and stored over the years. Not just clubs, although at the last count he had over seventy putters, but training aids, nets and of course the obligatory videos, ranging from ?John Jacobs short game? to (and not surprisingly still in it?s wrapper) ?Pilates for Golfers?. His wife?s repeated requests to have a clear out are ignored due to the fact that Tom is convinced that all of it is still useful. ?Just last week George, I had my best putting round in ages playing a 1987 Anser that I hadn?t used in years.?
My step father Paul Maton, also off 9 (Though his course in Oklahoma, where he lives, is so difficult that it translates to a 5 anywhere else) has his most brilliant swing thoughts while lying in bed, usually at about three in the morning, and finds it impossible to get back to sleep, unless he?s rehearsed said swing thought until it begins to feel comfortable.
As for the editor of Britain?s top golf magazine, who keeps his entire collection of stroke savers, well over 300, in his bathroom and while sitting on the throne, he randomly picks one out and mentally replays that round (the handy notations on each hole of every shot makes this possible, even for the oldest of rounds.) Depending on what he?s eaten he may play a quick 9, or a full 18. Rumour has it that the morning after one work?s curry night he played Royal County Down, Sunningdale Old and Church Stretton all at one sitting.
While not exactly putting my mind at rest about the word ?obsession?, at least I knew I was not alone. It was only when I turned to the Oxford English Dictionary (Concise Edition) that I found the definitive answer.
Obsession: to be pre-occupied continually to a troubling extent.
There it was: the proof that I was not obsessed. You see, although Tom, Paul, Tyke and myself may be pre-occupied continually with golf, not one of us would ever consider it troubling. We are not obsessed, we are merely dedicated.
Golf is the only game I know that inspires to this extent. It was best summed up by my good friend Ivor Danvers, Gerald Urquhart in the 80?s series Howard?s Way, when heading to the first tee he turned and said to me ?you know George, today is my 65th birthday, and I still feel promising.?