First of all, I need to explain the reason for the golf blog. My golf has been in decline for quite some time and, as a contributing editor for Golf Monthly, this has been driving me to distraction.
In the next issue, you will be able to read about the background to this, and more importantly about how I have finally got up from my lazy backside to start fighting back.
In brief, however, I have been properly fitted for a set of new Benross clubs, whilst at the same time I have embarked on a series of lessons from one of our Top 25 coaches, Paul Foston.
Over the coming months, I am looking forward to reporting on my progress via this blog.
In the brief time since meeting Paul, he has got me standing more upright, square to the target, and with a much better weight distribution. It's very early days, and due to work commitments overseas I have not yet had a chance to take this out on to my own course yet.
Instead, it was with a mixture of delight and petrifying fear that I learnt there was a place for me in the Pro-Am at the Volvo World Match Play Championship which was being played over the truly stunning course at Thracian Cliffs in Bulgaria.
I had taken my old mix of clubs to play the course but had expected to take my new swing out with me when no-one was looking. Instead, I was playing with Brett Rumford, the man who had won the previous two Tour events in Korea and China.
Not only that, but as it was a shot-gun start, we were to begin on the signature eighth - a long par 3 played from a very elevated tee.
Happily, Rumford is one of life's good guys, so by the time we had reached the tee I was not quite so worried as I might otherwise have been.
I selected my 23˚ rescue club before adopting what I hoped would be the posture that my new coach would want.
I stayed down over the ball and amazingly, it soared through the air at exactly the angle and the direction I had hoped. From the tee behind me, I heard the call, "Great shot, mate!" Unbelievable. It finished 20 feet short of and bang in line with the pin.
A dream start with my new swing and confidence, one that led to several more pars and even a birdie on the par-5 fifth.
In the next week or so I have my first round with my new clubs followed by a better-ball knock-out, my next lesson with Paul Foston, and finally the first medal in my quest to lower my handicap.
I am not for one minute expecting it to happen all at once - I am far too long in the tooth and have lost way too many golf balls for that - but I am hugely encouraged and look forward to the next stages of this adventure with real enthusiasm.
Rob Smith has been playing golf for more than 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly for over ten years, specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played more than 1,170 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions in 2021, he still managed to play 80 different courses during the year, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but nine. During the 2021-22 review period, Rob has played 34 of the Golf Monthly Top 200. He is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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