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.
I'm 78 and have been playing golf nearly all my adult life. In my time I've won a few medals, enjoyed modest success and have only one outstanding ambition, which is to have a hole in one. Desperate to know whether or not I would ever achieve it, about two months ago I went to see a clairvoyant.
She stared into her crystal ball and said that she could see me wearing a yellow sweater and jumping up and down on the tee having holed in one. She added that it was a Thursday morning. Well, ever since then I have worn a yellow sweater every Thursday morning to play golf and still haven't even hit the green on a par three. I’m tempted to go back to her and seek clarification but my friends tell me that I would be a mug to waste another £100 on ‘unreliable information’.
F Westfield, Little Aston
If you’ve not even hit a green on a par three in two months, I think the money would be better spent on lessons, don’t you?
Because I’m always bragging about what a gritty golfer I am and how I’m always holding my nerve in clutch situations, my wife thinks I’m a plucky sort of player.
Anyway, for my 40th birthday she has promised to buy me an amateur’s slot in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. My handicap is 18.4 and, to be absolutely honest, I can’t imagine anything less appealing than making a complete fool of myself in front of a big name player, large galleries and, God help me, TV cameras as well.
My wife’s even promised to follow me round. I’ll quite likely die of fear halfway through the backswing of my opening drive. How can I get out of this without looking a complete wimp?
E L Barmby, Sunderland
There is a very simple escape route that I urge you to take. Play in the next available medal or Stableford at your club and ensure that your nett score is above the buffer zone. Your playing handicap will thus automatically rise to 19, which is one more than the maximum permitted by the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship rules. Learn your lesson and be more modest in future.
Every year my wife and I go to a superb golf resort in Scotland. Although it’s rather expensive, it’s luxurious and, in my opinion at least, worth every penny.
However, there is one cost that I hugely resent and would love to somehow avoid and that is the penal £5 daily rental charge for a golf trolley. Because my wife also uses a trolley, I pay £10 a day, which adds up to a very significant extra cost of £70 – almost enough to buy two trolleys! Because of our budget airline’s prohibitive charges for extra baggage, it’s not economic to take our own.
Donald Rowbottom, North London
A decent, upstanding, law-abiding citizen, I don’t ordinarily recommend anything illegal. However, in this instance where you are encountering nothing short of corporate greed, I am willing to advocate a tactic that many would regard as dishonest.
Rent two trolleys on the first day and then hide the handles in your golf bags. Then on the second and subsequent days, you’ve no need to go into the pro shop and pay for what you already have. £10 for a week’s use of two trolleys is much more reasonable.
I have just lost in the quarter-final round of our club knock-out championship and am extremely angry about it as my opponent Mr B employed despicable gamesmanship tactics. After shaking hands on the first tee, he expressed an interest in my clubs and asked if I minded if he took a closer look at them. Of course I said I didn’t and so he picked up several of my irons and examined them very closely. “Mmm, interesting,” he said. “Don’t you find the offset heads and slightly twisted shafts cause you to push or cut the ball?”
Well, as a matter of fact I had developed a bit of a fade and although I didn’t really understand precisely what he was saying, it did make me wonder if there might be a problem. Having completely undermined my faith in my clubs, he proceeded to beat me five and four. However, it was only when the guy he stuffed in the previous round asked me how I got on and revealed that Mr B had said precisely the same thing about his clubs to him did I realise that I had been the victim of what I would describe as totally unacceptable behaviour. Do you think I should complain to the committee?
RJ Clements, Maidstone
The ‘B’ must stand for Bounder or possibly something even stronger. Although I agree that his behaviour is totally unacceptable, complaining to the committee will smack of sour grapes.
You must speak urgently to his semi-final opponent and suggest that when Mr B inspect his clubs on the first tee that, before Mr B has a chance to comment, his opponent says something like this: “In case you’re wondering, the offset heads and slightly twisted shafts are the result of a physical attack I made on a despicable opponent who sought to put me off my game by trying to suggest that there was something wrong with my clubs. Of course I should simply have gone, together with those he had put off in previous rounds, to the committee and had him thrown out of the club, but I didn’t.”
The shock at having been rumbled and the implicit threat of being thrown out will almost certainly ensure that Mr B plays badly, loses and doesn’t employ that appaling gamesman’s gambit again.