First published on the Golf Monthly website on Thursday 23rd April 2009
Fergus is struggling on the greens and he knows what the problem is. But, will he do anything about it?
I had 37 putts in the Medal yesterday. By anyone’s standards, that’s a woeful effort with the flat stick. As I managed to get round in 71 (+2) I wasn’t overly concerned immediately after the game – it was just a round in the buffer zone where I’d missed quite a few chances.
But, during the post-match debrief, I began to think further and made the mistake of counting up my putts. To average more than two per green is not very good – even Sergio Garcia would be disappointed. If I could have holed just half of the five/six footers I missed, I would have scored well under par.
Irritatingly, I know what the problem is and it should be a ludicrously simple fault to correct – I’m not keeping my head still. It ought to be so easy to keep your noggin in the same spot as you make a putting stroke but, for some reason, I find it a Herculean challenge.
It always takes me a good few holes to realise my head is waving about through the stroke in the style of Stevie Wonder giving an encore performance of “Isn’t she lovely.” By then I’ve generally already had a couple of three-stabs. After the realisation I begin to concentrate so hard on keeping my bonce steady that any thoughts of getting the line or pace of the putt right go flying out of the window. It’s a lose, lose situation.
What I should do is – find an hour at some point to go to the putting green and hit endless three-footers until the problem is solved. What I will do, however, is – think about buying a new putter, think about changing my grip, think about keeping my left knee locked through the stroke and think about how good I could be if I could putt. Yes, there’ll be a lot of thinking and not a lot of fixing.
Over the last few breakfasts, Jessie (wife), Flora (daughter) and I have been learning animal names from a pocket guide to British and European mammals. Flora has been learning the English names and, as Jessie and I know most of them already (although I’d never heard of a Raccoon Dog), we’ve been attempting to learn their Latin names. I now know the Brown Bear is Ursus arctos and the Arctic Fox is Alopex lagopus.
Yes, as I’m not a zoologist or veterinarian, the information is totally useless to me, but it’s been quite good fun. While going through the section on deer this morning, my mind began to wander (as it generally does) towards golf. I was thinking – it’s a shame that golf was never categorised scientifically warranting the use of Latin to describe various aspects of the sport. I think it’d be great if, when feeling particularly horrified by a shot, you could identify it by its Latin name for greater impact: “My God Frank, I do believe that was a Socketus rocketis.” Or, “No. Gordon wasn’t playing well today, he’s suffering from a nasty case of slicia vulgaris.”
Anyway enough of this nonsense, I’m off to browse manufacturers’ websites to find a new putter.