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 At the 19th

And here’s one I made earlier...
Safe to say that golf’s sophisticated R&D boffins needn’t lose too much sleep over some of the game’s more radicle inventions to have taken shape in a garage somewhere in deepest East Sussex...

If you’re as hugely generous as I am, you will doubtless be tearing what’s left of your hair out at the appalling shortage of imaginative golfing gifts in the shops this Christmas. A sleeve of balls for each of your regular playing partners is okay but somehow lacks originality, don’t you agree?

Don’t blame me. Roughly five times better at coming up with ideas than I am at hitting greens in regulation, I have put forward a number of what I regard as irresistible proposals to the people that matter only to have them all cruelly rejected.

First of all there was the ‘Eterni-tee’, which has a number of attractive features. The cup on the top resembles a clock-face with figures around the rim which relate to the club you’re taking. So if you’re hitting, say, a five-iron off the tee, you click the cup round to the figure five and the tee automatically adjusts to precisely the right height. Because it sits on the ground rather than in it, it reduces club deceleration on impact. It also emits an audible signal five seconds after the shot and every five seconds thereafter. It simply can’t be lost, hence ‘Eterni-tee’, geddit? Even at £24.99, surely a bargain!

Then there was the ‘Krypton’ putter. Unlike conventional putters that rely on balance and alignment, the ‘Krypton’ works by imparting an enormous negative charge on the ball that attracts it irresistibly to the metal in the cup. So provided you keep the flagstick well away and putt in the general direction of the hole, the ball almost invariably goes in. Because there’s depleted uranium in the putter-head, health and safety regulations require a lead-lined golf bag and so carting 250 pounds around the course is exhausting but well worth the effort if you average between 18 and 21 putts a round.

Another of my inventions that encountered difficulties in the development stage was the 89 degree wedge. Brilliant for getting the ball to rise quickly over an obstacle, it nevertheless frequently resulted in a smack in the face. A small protective screen about a foot above the clubface solved that problem but created another in that you couldn’t then see the ball at address until, that is, we tried Perspex. Believing that a celebrity endorsement would boost sales, I wrote to Jimmy Tarbuck inviting him to lend his name to the ‘Tarby Tosser’. Sadly, he never replied.

Another big star whose help I sought to elicit was Sir Bruce Forsyth. With an almost razor-sharp leading edge, the ‘Brucie Scalper’ was designed to nip the ball of bare lies. Why Sir Bruce? Well, the man has proved that a lack of natural growth need not be an obstacle to success, which is precisely what the ‘Scalper’ sought to demonstrate. Although he was then just a humble mister, he too never replied.

Not wishing to ignore the long game, I invented a driver that was spectacularly better than all of its competitors put together. Called the ‘Howitzer’, it could literally boom the ball comfortably in excess of 400 yards. Being absolutely candid, once again I encountered a couple of problems. The principal headache, and I use the word advisedly, was the almost unbearable noise the club made on impact. If I were to reveal that the other problem was a blinding flash, you might be able to work out the secret behind its awesome power. Although I thought wearing earplugs and goggles would overcome these, the club manufacturer I approached did not wish to become involved.

Made entirely of vegetable matter – mostly crushed walnut shells and shredded acorns – the ‘Ecoball’ is non toxic and entirely biodegradable and would therefore, at a stroke, solve the serious problem of lost golf balls polluting the planet. Although the maximum distance they can travel through the air is roughly 130 yards, I suggested to the ball manufacturer I wrote to that I thought golfers would willingly sacrifice a little distance in return for knowing that they weren’t damaging the environment. Although not terribly encouraging, I did at least receive a reply from their Chief Patent Counsel. “Unfortunately, our policy does not permit review of unsolicited product ideas. Consequently, we cannot enter discussion regard your product proposal and I must return the material you sent.” Oh well.

To be perfectly frank with you, none of my letters received a positive reply. Among those to say ‘no’ to me were the Pope, the Duke of York, Chubby Chandler, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Gerry Adams, Hootie Johnson, Tiger Woods and the Headmaster of Eton College.

However, I did achieve a measure of consolation by publishing some of the letters in a slim volume. Although it originally sold for £4.99, to call it a book would be too pretentious. Since 2000 of the original 5000 remain unsold and are cluttering up the cupboard beneath the stairs, we ought to be able to solve your Christmas present problem and my shortage of space at the same time. For an absurdly modest £2.50 (including postage) of which 50p goes to the Seve Ballesteros Foundation, you can purchase the Pulitzer Prize nominated Letters of Mortimer Merriweather.

Kindly send a cheque made out to Clive Agran to Prawles Coach House, Ewhurst Green, East Sussex, TN32 5RG. In the extremely unlikely event of overwhelming demand exhausting supplies, your cheque will be ripped up but you won’t receive any copies of the book. Email any queries to cliveagran@btinternet.com. Oh, and an early Happy Xmas!

November 2011

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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