More than a game: In the doldrums

When the top players have problems with their game they stay positive. Fergus would be ranked somewhere below the "top" bracket.

Tiger Woods is renowned for putting a positive spin on everything that happens in his golfing world. If he has a horrendous day on the course there?ll always be something he can take from it. If he?s scored badly then external factors will have contributed to it or there?ll be some small technical problem he can easily rectify given an hour on the range or putting green. It?s this incredible self-belief that sees him dominate the sport.

Last week I played my two worst medal rounds of the year so I?ve really got to try and think like Tiger at the moment. This is easier said than done. I know how I should react to bad golf but I just can?t do it. After Saturday?s medal (a ten over par 79) I jotted down an assessment of the state of my game from two perspectives. One: The Theoretical - How Tiger Woods would approach the problems I?m facing. And two: The Actual ? The thoughts really going through my brain.

Long Game

Theoretical Tiger: On the whole I?m striking the ball very well. I need to make a couple of minor adjustments to get things absolutely perfect. Once I?ve ironed out the creases I?ll be unstoppable.

Actual Fergus: I have absolutely no idea where the ball is going. More often than not I?m blocking it right and compounding it with a slice, but I?m also producing snap hooks, fats and pulls. Help me, somebody please help me.

Mental Game

Theoretical Tiger: There were a number of holes where I really knuckled down and ground out pars and birdies. I need to keep that mindset all the way round. Next time I play I will and I?ll shoot a 59.

Actual Fergus: I?m giving up golf. I?m rubbish and there?s nothing I can do about it. I wonder if the local ping-pong club is looking for members.

Short Game

Theoretical Tiger: I?m chipping and putting really well. Probably better than I have all season. I?m visualising the correct pitch shot to use and executing perfectly. I?m extremely happy.

Actual Fergus: I am actually chipping quite well. I?m having to. My long game is so dismal I?m finding roughly zero greens in regulation. If my chipping was as bad as it usually is I wouldn?t be breaking 100. My putting is still crap.

Sorry for all this doom and gloom but it?s Monday morning, it?s raining and my golf is in tatters. I?m sure I?ll have returned to my usual cheery self next week.

Monday 6.00pm - Emergency Blog Update?

Banchory was closed again today so I couldn?t attempt to play myself out of this mini slump. Desperation began to kick in around lunchtime so I decided on a course of action I?m normally averse to: I asked for advice. I paid a trip to the pro shop, got Stewart to video me playing a couple of shots from the first tee and then David, (Head Pro at Banchory,) made a quick but very useful analysis of the evidence.

It turns out the root of my problem is my grip. It had become too weak, hence the reason most of my shots are starting right and getting righter. I?m also moving into the ball a little too much. It was quite incredible how easily David could pick out the flaws in my action when viewing it on film. He?s got a great system where you can compare any swing to those of the top pros: Slightly demoralising to see me vs Luke Donald, but revealing nonetheless.

Anyway, I then headed to the driving range to test the new grip and to concentrate on staying behind the strike. It worked. I hit the ball better than I have for weeks. I?m now thinking more like Tiger again. I must be a favourite for the men?s Open at Banchory on Saturday.

The moral of the story is: If in doubt, get a lesson.

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?