Do you have a golf problem that’s keeping you awake at night?
Is there some aspect of your game that you simply can’t sort out?
Stop worrying because Dr Felix Shank, a more or less genuine expert on all aspects of the game, is here to help.
Illustrations by Tony Husband.
Even though I have always been a very much better golfer than he is, my regular playing partner and I have golfed together more or less every week for the past 15 years. In that time we have become the very best of friends and never forget to buy each other a birthday present. Because he had expressed an interest in them, for his last birthday I gave him one of those power, balance, sports, bracelet, hologram wristbands. He was thrilled and the effect on his game was both immediate and dramatic. He has steadily improved and come down, believe it or not, from a 21 handicap to 12 in ten months and is now only one shot worse than me. Because I was hugely cynical about their effectiveness, instead of purchasing a proper wristband for what I thought was a vastly inflated sum, I spent considerably less on an imitation one on eBay. Feeling incredibly guilty about deceiving an old friend, I now feel compelled to own up to my deceit but can’t seem to find an appropriate moment.
G. Lambert, Tunbridge Wells
Reluctant though I am to do it, I feel obliged to question your motive in now wanting to reveal your dark secret to your good friend. Do you feel guilty or threatened? If you are genuinely contrite about giving him a fake present, should you not have said something long before now?
Perhaps you have said nothing because it’s only recently that he has challenged your supremacy. Although it’s a fake, your friend clearly believes in his wristband and that is why it has worked. To reveal to him now that it’s not genuine would almost certainly undermine his belief and I’ve no doubt that his game would suffer as a consequence. If, as I hope it does, your friendship matters more than being a better golfer, you should say nothing but instead consider buying a wristband yourself in the hope that it might do for you what it has done for him.
I’ve been very happily married to the same lovely woman for nearly 22 years. Although she doesn’t much care for the game herself, my wife is perfectly okay about me playing golf as often as I like and, partly because of this, my handicap is now in single figures. Even though we have three beautiful children, she has never once complained about the amount of time I spend on the golf course. For my part, throughout our time together, I have never once been unfaithful. Indeed, even though I have a very important job in the fashion industry and am surrounded by extremely pretty women, I honestly hardly notice them. However, whenever I’m playing golf and spot a woman on a fairway, no matter how unattractive my playing partners assure me she is, I fancy her. Frequently my friends have to physically restrain me in the bar after a round from chatting up women I’ve spotted out on the course. This behaviour is embarrassing me enormously but I can’t seem to stop it.
Name and address withheld
You are obviously a very successful and fortunate man who has a beautiful wife and family, a top job, enough money and, I dare say, a sound swing and solid short game. But not many of us are ever satisfied with what we have. The only serious disappointment in your life is that you wife, although beautiful and understanding, doesn’t play golf. This disappointment manifests itself in this seemingly inexplicable attraction to anyone of the opposite sex who can swing a club. There is only one solution, you must buy your wife a set of clubs, a few lessons and insist that she take up the game.
About three years ago I was suddenly stricken by the yips since when I have tried every grip imaginable in a desperate attempt to find a cure. Far from solving the problem, it has grown progressively worse. Not only that, but I have also recently developed an involuntary scream whenever – which is pretty well every time – I miss a makeable putt. Although my playing partners are willing to put up with my dreadful putting, they won’t tolerate my screaming and I am finding it increasingly difficult to find people at my club who are prepared to play with me.
R.M. Tait, Cumbernauld
You say you have tried every grip imaginable. How about gripping the handle of your putter between your clenched teeth? That should put a stop to the screaming and enable you to vent your frustration by silently biting the grip instead.