Acting Up: The competitive edge

The golfing actor wants to be centre stage. George decides more rehearsals are needed to lower his handicap, and he doesn't want the other GM bloggers to steal his limelight either.

At the beginning of the year the pro will set out his season's objectives. These objectives will differ from pro to pro: Tiger will focus on the Majors, a rookie on avoiding the ignominy of Q-School, John Daly on making cuts while avoiding sharp objects.

The actor, ever one to emulate his heroes, set himself a less lofty ambition, namely to reduce his handicap to 4 by the end of the tour. Having hovered around the 4.9 to 5.2 mark for a while it was time to make the necessary improvements to my game that would facilitate the drop. As the tour progressed I practised harder than Vijay and played more than Tarbuck. My golf started to improve; I was shooting consistently in the low 70s on challenging courses.

Although giving me ample opportunity to golf, being on tour also hindered my ambition by making me unavailable for most qualifying competitions. One of my few chances came while the show was at Milton Keynes, in a SGS. (Stage Golf Society) medal, The Warrander Spoon, played at Sandy Lodge.

Of the many courses the Stage plays, Sandy Lodge is one of my favourites. An inland links, the rough was ?As high as an elephant's eye? and the greens were, to quote Gary McCord, bikini waxed.

After 15 holes I found myself 4-under gross and playing beautifully. The 16th hole, named Hookers Knell due to the out of bounds down the left, has over the years been my nemesis. ?Left is dead? I said to myself. As is always the way, my brain and body engaged in a game of Chinese whispers and the thought got translated to ?Go dead left.?

After a double on 16, a bogey on 17 and a scrappy par on 18 I limped to the clubhouse with a 1-under 71. However, the resulting net-66 not only won the trophy, a 3ft silver spoon that Pete Doherty would be proud to call his own, but also a reduction in my handicap to 4.4. A week later a good showing in the Secretary?s Ankle (a particularly gruesome trophy consisting of the metal pins from the broken ankle of a former secretary, set in Perspex - my wife was rather pleased that I didn?t win it) cut me to 4.1. The Holy Grail of 4 had been well and truly achieved.

Suddenly, like the rookie who wins early on the tour and secures his playing rights, I had to reassess my objectives.

Each week I look forward to reading the other blogs on the GM website. Clive Agran (weekly), Fergus Bisset (weekly), and Mike Harris (like Haley?s Comet) are not only extremely talented and witty golf writers, they are passionate about our beautiful game. If I was looking for a challenge, here were a group of worthy opponents to pit myself against. Could I, the actor, become the best golfer among the GM bloggers?


Agran, self confessed worst golfer never to win a Major, has experience on his side. But with a handicap in the teens I?d feel confident in a scratch match.

Harris, playing off 7, is an altogether different beast. I?ve been privy to his sporting prowess in the past. In the old Thames Valley League the grouping of the words ?Mike Harris? and ?Off spin? sent shivers down the spine of the bravest batsmen. But surely being the editor of Britain?s premier golf magazine, his golfing opportunities would be few and far between, and with the actor on form.. I don?t know.

Last, and by no means least, Fergus Bisset, the current holder of the title Best Blogging Golfer. If I play more than Tarbuck, he plays more than Tarbuck, Forsythe, and Corbett on a golfing holiday. He plays, so it seems, every daylight hour and at this time of year in Scotland that?s about 23. With his handicap at 3, and by all accounts that?s dodgy, Fergus would be the main obstacle in achieving my goal.

Thinking that I may have bitten off more than I could chew, I revisited the GM site to scan the blogs for any weaknesses. What I read completely savaged any hopes I might have been clinging to.

Agran has found a new secret weapon, a chipper. With complete disregard for machismo, and a new short game prowess, his handicap is sure to tumble.

Harris, far from playing very little golf, has recently played 36 at Sunningdale and as I write is playing at St Andrews in the Writers Cup. While this demonstrates an appalling neglect of duty to GM it can only be beneficial to his game.

Bisset it seems has been playing out of his skin and despite massive storms north of the border has actually come down to 2. It just goes to prove the old adage that nothing improves a man's handicap like an understanding wife.

There is now an Office blog so even more people to contend with, and if things couldn?t get any worse GM have just unveiled their newest blogger. Bradley Dredge???


I?ve given up on my goal of becoming the best golfer among the GM Bloggers and have set myself a more realistic ambition. I plan to get down to 3 by the time Mike Harris posts four more blog entries. I calculate that at his present rate that gives me till the middle of October?.. 2011.

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