Fergus Bisset: Searching for the solution

Fergus is struggling with his game but has no end of ideas about how he might fix it.

I’m enduring a very poor run of form at the moment. My handicap is on an inexorable path upwards and I just can’t seem to get the ball round in a sensible number. Although many of my issues are mental, they stem from something technical. The problem is – I’m not sure what that technical something is.

I’m far too stubborn to take a lesson so I have to try and work out the problem for myself. It’s proving to be rather tricky. Since my bad golf started some weeks ago, I’ve lost count of the number of “Eureka” moments I’ve had. It’s incredible how sure I can be that I’ve solved my issues then how quickly I can be proved wrong, no matter how many times it happens.

For me, this is how things pan out:

I’m hitting the ball poorly so I begin to think too hard about what I’m doing. I’ll start concentrating on a swing thought rather than simply moving the ball towards the target and I begin hitting it even worse. Then I really start experimenting –

“Maybe my grip’s too weak.” I think. So I strengthen my grip and the next shot’s a beauty.

“Yes, that’s it, that was the problem.” I’m temporarily elated but three shots later a snap-slice out of bounds sends me back to the drawing board. The next solution won’t be long in coming though…

“Wait a minute. My shoulders are open.” So I close my shoulders and the next shot’s a beauty.

“Yes, that’s it, that was the problem." I’m temporarily elated but three shots later a pull-hook into the trees sends me back to the drawing board.

This process repeats ad infinitum.

Before yesterday’s mid-week Medal I was convinced (again) I had the answer – I wasn’t staying behind the ball properly. Things were going pretty well until the eighth when I hit one poor shot that seemed to disprove my cure. I was so disappointed that I made back-to-back double bogeys in protest and my round was ruined.

I made a sad mental trudge back to my drawing board and spent the rest of the game experimenting with little success. That was until the 18th tee when I suddenly realised I’d been swaying rather than turning through the ball. I played the final hole beautifully and made a birdie.

I’m now, once again, convinced I have the solution and next time I venture onto the course I’ll shoot the lights out. It really is a ridiculous game.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?