Sunday, 9 October 2011

Watch Out - There's A Humphrey About

If you are of a certain age you'll remember back to the the mid 1970's when the Unigate Dairy came up with an amazing advertising campaign to promote their range of milk. It was based on an army of red and white striped straws that turned up when you weren't looking and stole your milk. An imaginative slogan "Watch out..Watch out there's a Humphrey about" became an overnight catchphrase.

The Humphrey Logo
Of course if you are too young or reading this from outside the UK it'll mean very little. However the convoluted point I'm making is I've a horrible feeling my golf swing has been Humphrey'd. It was there at the range last week and had been coming on nicely from the lesson I had. It was there for the most part in the Saturday roll up yesterday. Cometh the stableford today when I needed it the most it was conspicuous by its absence for long periods.

I was partnered by Eddie Murphy (yes, we've done the gags before) and Jeff Wade who earns a crust as a caddy at Wentworth. Jealous - Moi? It started of well enough with a solid nett par but the problems began at the second. The drive was further right than intended but caught the bough of a tree lurking from the edge of the out of bounds. Where it went after that is a mystery. I hit a provisional off the tee but put such a bad swing on it that it flew miles into the trees. Two balls lost, no points scored. Not a great hole.

I bounced back with a good drive into the teeth of a stiff breeze and hit a fine second onto the green to par the 3rd and followed with a par at the 4th. On the par five 5th I hit a rubbish drive into the right rough, hit a scabby hybrid out and stuck my approach from 174 yards into the left hand greenside bunker. However there are no pictures on the scorecard. I hit a really good bunker shot to within a foot and holed out for par. No-one will ever know about the bad ones. I managed to make par on the tricky par four 7th and again it was a case of luck and not judgement. A good tee shot was negated by a horror swing straight right (I did exactly the same thing yesterday). It somehow avoided all the timber and shot through the trees. I pitched on and holed a cheeky eleven footer putt. Out in seventeen points or one over my handicap. Truth be told on another day it could have been a measly eleven or twelve but I was riding my luck

However luck has to run out and I had gone to the well too many times. I made a nett par at the 10th without too many issues and managed to find the green with my tee shot on the 11th which is a long par 3 measuring 178 yards. Here was a chance to get that shot back. No chance. As regular followers will know if Homer has a chance to grasp bogey from the jaws of a birdie I'll manage to find a way. Cue a nasty three putt. My luck was still holding though as I managed a nett par at the 12th. The drive was so wild it ended up back down by the eleventh tee box. I should have been able to hit a simple wedge back over the trees into play. I hit it fat but somehow it managed to find a way through and finished just short of a bunker. I hit a good pitch and two putted. Who will know?

What really gets the blood pressure rising are unforced errors. It's a hard enough game anyway. I wasn't swinging the club well and had already blown a good chance on the 11th. The 13th is another par 3 and played into the wind. Again I did the hard bit and managed to hit a good shot to within fifteen feet. From nowhere the putter died on me. Another three putts.

The Americans have a term in their sports called bouncabackability. Basically its the ability to make a big play straight after messing up. Tiger Woods in his pomp was renowned for making a birdie straight after dropping a shot. The 14th is a 430 yard par 4 but plays straight downwind. I hit a better drive, good but not brilliant, which found the edge of the rough on the right. In front of me were two oak trees with an inviting gap inbetween. I pulled the five iron and hit it pure. Definitely the best swing of the round. It went arrow straight through the gap, landed short of the green and ran up the putting surface to finish a couple of feet away. The putter didn't let me down. Birdie time.

And here is the crux of my golfing problems. I play one hole well and then from nowhere the next is something out of Hammer House of Horrors. A pulled drive on the 15th left me with a conundrum. Take a hybrid, go for extra yardage and ensure I can reach the green in regulation on this par five or take a pragmatic approach, hit a six iron and try and make the putting surface with a long iron from the sanctuary of the fairway. Can you guess which approach I took? Suffice to say it was the wrong choice and I didn't trouble the scorers.

I needed a par or two coming down the stretch to post a level par 36 point total which given the conditions would have been pretty competitive. Probably not enough to win but maybe enough for a top three. In the end I did well to make nett pars on the last three holes as I didn't really play any of them well. And there you have it, a score of 34 points and a hatful of what might have beens.

To be honest I couldn't care less about the score or what it does to my handicap. The biggest concern is the loss of form. It was nothing like the way I'd been swinging it. Did I sub-consciously revert to type and my old swing and bad habits through the "pressure" of the monthly stableford. Had I simply had an attack of the golfing Humphrey's and temporarily lost it. I'm not sure but I do know it has given me a bit of a headache. It looks like I'll be hitting the range tomorrow night to try and find something for the trip to the Forest of Arden and the Golf Monthly Final on Thursday. Tempo too fast. Check. Lack of wrist hinge. Check. Poor takeaway and turn. Check. Poor putting. Check. So many issues, so little time.

I'll wait and see where I finish in the division without holding out too much hope. It was a case of scoring much better than I deserved which I guess is the antithesis of all the rounds I've bemoaned how well I hit the damn thing without putting a score together. I'll take an ugly win on Thursday but like most golfers would prefer to win well and hit it well too. We always want our cake and eat it.

If like me your game is in and out, just remember, it may not be you. Watch out there's a Humphrey about.

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