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.
Every year on his birthday, I play golf with Simon, an old school friend of mine. Golf has been an enormous consolation to him in what has otherwise been a rather unhappy life. His marriage ended acrimoniously, he hasn’t worked since being made redundant 10 years ago and he now lives in a hostel for the homeless. Although he very rarely plays nowadays, he’s still a pretty decent 11-handicapper.
Anyway, our annual match has been going for about 10 years and is now a well established tradition. As part of the annual ritual, I give him the same present of a sleeve of rather expensive golf balls. Every year he unwraps it, sarcastically expresses his surprise at the originality of the gift and then invariably, and I suspect deliberately, hoicks his opening tee-shot into the deep rough, declares the ball lost and then hits another one of the new balls that I’ve just given him. All three are gone by the turn after which he seems to play far more steadily. Am I being too sensitive in finding Simon’s behaviour rather gauche? Reluctant though I am to break with tradition, my inclination is not to give him any more golf balls.
L S POMERANTZ, POOLE
I suspect Simon resents your comparative success. School friends are apt to compare their lives and respective achievements. Clearly Simon has struggled. Given his appalling situation, buying him expensive golf balls is almost certainly perceived by him as being incredibly insensitive to his predicament. So what I suggest you do next time is maintain the tradition but, rather than top quality balls, buy him some X-outs. Then, after the round, give him a decent coat, jacket or sweater as a birthday present which he will, I’m sure, genuinely appreciate.
I’m the oldest of four golfing brothers who go away together every summer with our respective wives.
We fly somewhere warm that has quality golf courses, decent shops for the women and, since we all live fairly close to Stansted, can be reached by a certain budget airline.We four brothers each put £25 into a kitty and my wife is detailed to go out and buy a nice prize for the brother who accumulates the most Stableford points over the several rounds we play.
We’ve been doing these trips for seven years now and, because he is the biggest bandit in Essex, my youngest brother wins every time. I don’t resent his dodgy handicap or even mind him winning but I do dislike his dreadful triumphalism on the flight home. Can you suggest a way to stop him gloating?
TERRY COCHRANE, BISHOPS STORTFORD
Easy. £100 will buy an enormously heavy piece of junk that will cost your youngest brother an absolute fortune in excess baggage that should stop him crowing on the way home.
I take my wife and two children every summer to visit my parents-in-law in Elgin, Scotland. Although I don’t especially like him, I always treat my rather mean and extremely boring father-in-law to a game of golf. I don’t mind paying for the round so much as having to listen to him droning on about his gout, the Scottish Nationalist Party, the crippling cost of whisky, Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club and the various other dull topics he raises.
PETER ATKINSON, BARNSLEY
As you are doubtless aware, there are some wonderful courses along the Moray Firth and it’s a great pity that your father-in-law’s dull conversation be allowed to spoil your enjoyment of them. There is a pair of wonderful links’ course, however, that you ought to be able to play without having to listen to his tedious chatter; they are the two at Old Moray Golf Club. As they are bang next door to the RAF station at Lossiemouth, the largest and busiest fastjet base in the country, you could legitimately claim that it would be prudent to play them wearing ear plugs.