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Major RJM Warren-Dawlish M.C. has been Secretary of Royal St Luke’s Golf Club in Suffolk since 1985. A leading authority on the Rules of Golf, guerrilla tactics and continental drift, he has graciously agreed to publish items of his correspondence is these columns. The opinions, prejudices and obsessions expressed are his alone and do not (necessarily) reflect those of Golf International or Golf Today.

Royal St. Luke’s Golf Club (Est. 1603)
pulsa inveni repulsa

From; The Secretary,
The Clubhouse,
1 Links Road,
Carrington Magna,
Suffolk SU3 1GC

Subject: February Newsletter

Let it not be said that this ancient Club is behind the times or in any way backward. Not only do we have access to the so-called Internet, but our Fi-Wi apparatus now has LARGE LETTERS for Seniors together with sound amplification and, after Sir Toby Courtney’s incident last month, an impenetrable pornography block. Any other Member attempting to access the disgraceful ‘golfporn’ website:

www.playingaround.org, and especially the videos therein such as ‘Holing out with Emmanuelle’ and ‘Hookers pull it off!’, will be automatically redirected to my Office.

Courtney, whose heart attack was brought on by ‘On the Range with the Pros’ is still in the Coronary Care Unit. Be warned.

After numerous complaints, the Smythson Stairlift in the Clubhouse has been replaced with the much speedier turbo version. This allows Senior Members to arrive at the upper floors before forgetting why they were going there in the first place. However, Members using the Turbolift must remember to apply the stairlift brake before arriving at the 3rd floor landing. The proximity of this terminus to the laundry chute has meant that several Members who failed to apply the brake have been projected forwards into the chute and thence straight back to the basement. The Captain has formally apologised to Basil Crowthorpe who completed this cycle three times before being discovered amid the linen.

Members have been asking why an extension has been added to the pro shop and why technicians in white coats have been seen coming and going from it. The answer is that our commitment to technology being total, we now have the first operational MRI scanner in a golf club.

One of our distinguished medical members is the neurologist Dr Nicholas Garside whose work on functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging or fMRI, is apparently seminal in the field. What happens is this:

First, you shove a person with a working brain (or rather a brain attached to a living person) into a large tube. This structure carries a giant magnet, far more powerful than the Earth’s magnetic field. You then turn the magnet on, whereupon every hydrogen atom in the brain lines up with the magnetic field. The magnetised brain is now subjected to a radio beam of a far higher frequency than that of Radio Kerrang! – or even BBC Radio 3. The radio beam causes hydrogen atoms to ‘resonate’ in different ways depending on where they are in the brain: in neurones, blood vessels, etc. The result is a brain image of stunning clarity.

The final trick utilises the haemoglobin – the red stuff – in our blood. If a part of the brain is actually working and not lazing about, it extracts oxygen from haemoglobin – causing the fMRI image to ‘light up’ compared to dark inactive areas.

The result is that we can actually see which parts of that wondrous neck-top computer is in action when we do contrasting things – such as reading The Spectator compared to the Daily Star; or watching Paxman v The Minister, as opposed to the appalling, ‘I’m a Celebrity – get me!

But, you ask, what’s all this got to do with golf? Well, some time ago researchers looked with fMRI at the brains of players during the swing. When amateurs were compared to professionals, fascinating differences emerged confirming the truth of the professionals’ old adage that they are ‘in the zone’ as they swing.

The only area of the professionals’ brains in action and hence ‘lighting up’ during the swing, is the Motor Cortex which controls hand & eye co-ordination. All other areas of the brain actually close down for the duration of the backswing, downswing, impact and follow- through. No wonder pros are consistent in hitting it long and straight.

With amateurs – what a performance! From the very commencement of the backswing, almost every brain area lights up as the Motor Cortex is being deluged with interference from various quarters. The Limbic System lights up inputting emotion; so does the Cerebellum, which shifts body weight about; the Hippocampus literally blazes, indicating rage, as does the Thalamus whose function is still a mystery. The only area to close down absolutely is the Memory Centre, thus preventing the recall of any and all advice ever received from professionals.

The result? Hand & eye co-ordination progressively disintegrates. When the Thalamus lights up the shot is pushed or pulled slightly, but when the Hippocampus flashes the ball exhibits either the dreaded Banana Slice or, worse, the Boomerang Hook. The latter is a ball which curves away in a trajectory so tight that like a boomerang it actually comes back, scattering the players on the tee. Experiments with Members fMRI’d before and after a standard Clubhouse Lunch have been conducted. These show that the consumption of the usual three pre-prandial G&Ts, a bottle of Chateau Lafarge ’96 and a couple of sturdy Kummels frappé has absolutely no effect on putting, but causes a major shut-down of the Limbic System – in other words, who cares where it goes…

It has always been speculated that the most important distance on a golf course is 4½ inches. That’s both the diameter of the cup – and also the far greater distance between the player’s ears…Well, it’s true.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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