Dr Felix Shank
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.
The least liked member of our club, Thomas Osborne, sadly died of a heart attack at our Christmas dinner. It is testimony to his unpopularity that, in order to persuade members to sit with him at that dinner, tickets for his table were sold at a substantial discount.
Anyhow his widow, Mrs Osborne, gloriously unaware of the low esteem in which he was universally held, has generously donated his wedding ring mounted on a plaque to the club as a trophy to be awarded in his memory. Our problem is finding a suitable competition to which we could appropriately attach his name without giving the false impression that we cherish his memory.
M Whittaker, Horley
Anything to do with death has to be handled with great sensitivity, which makes my initial thought that the trophy could be awarded annually to the least popular member of the club one that I instantly dismissed as gratuitously offensive. However, the integrity of the club, its competitions and the names on the other trophies must be protected and not devalued.
After careful thought, could you not create a low-key eclectic event to run in conjunction with the monthly Stableford competitions from, say, June to August and award the Thomas Osborne Summer Stablefords Eclectic Ring to the winner? That should satisfy his widow, whilst those who knew him could refer to it colloquially as ‘The Tosser.’
After a moderately successful amateur career, I turned pro ten years ago and sought to make a living as a tour professional. Bad luck, however, has dogged my career.
Five years in a row, I missed the final cut at qualifying school by just one miserable shot. On no fewer than four occasions on the Europro Tour and twice on the Challenge Tour, I lost a play-off. I was the only one to miss out on the Open in 2004 when there were three of us left at the end of a qualifying event competing in another play-off for the two remaining places at Troon.
Three years ago, after finally receiving a wild-card invitation to a European Tour event, and when leading by three shots after two rounds, I turned my ankle walking to the first tee and had to withdraw. Last year, fed up with my failure, my wife left me and took our two small children with her. Incidentally, she also took our home.
Then, just at the point when I was seriously contemplating giving up what has become an unequal struggle, an extraordinary thing happened. In a pro-am last month, I was the last to hit on a 195-yard par three and, with all three of my playing partners already on the green, I sliced a five-iron and watched in amazement as the ball cannoned off a tree, bounced three times on a cart-path, hopped over a bunker and rolled towards the pin. Unbelievably, it dropped. Do you think it’s a ‘sign’ that my luck has at last changed?
Name and address withheld
Are you sure it was your ball that went in the hole?
My golf club has askd me to editt there nuesletter. To be honist, I’m not shure that I am eny good at it. Wot shood I do.
G Reddington, Solihull
There’s a member at my club – let’s call him Jim– who has the extremely irritating habit of waiting until you are hunched over a putt before stooping to repair his pitchmark.
Although I am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, others are convinced that he does this quite deliberately in order to distract opponents at these critical moments. I am reluctant to ask him to desist partly because repairing pitchmarks is a good thing and partly because it could create an unpleasant incident.
MK Doberman, Lossiemouth
It’s very charitable of you to believe that Jim is acting innocently as it sounds to me that what he’s doing is a deliberate gamesman’s ploy. The solution is perfectly simple. When you arrive on the green, repair his pitchmark for him. If he protests, just explain that not a second must be wasted as the sooner pitchmarks are dealt with, the sooner the recovery process begins.