English-Sensei Forced To Practice Golf During Lesson

Barnham Broom Golf & Country ClubI happened to mention to Mrs Wada that I was off to England in February and would be staying at Barnham Broom Golf and Country Club.

Now, I never said anything about playing any golf, I merely said that I would be staying there. But Mrs Wada, who happens to be both and a keen golfer and the Big White Chief of the Takanosu (“Hawk’s Nest”) Golf Club near Hiroshima, immediately picked up her phone and rang her golf instructor-wallah and booked her English-sensei-wallah in for a golf lesson – something I would never have done on my own initiative. She told me that he was a professional golfer who had played in America and that he therefore had a good command of English, at least for the purposes of teaching golf, and that he was an all round good egg who wouldn’t laugh at my cack-handed slashings and hackings. That I doubted.

It will be evident from the foregoing that Mrs W is a very keen golfer. Some may go so far as to aver that she seems to be keener on playing or practising golf than studying English and I must offer some grist to their mill by admitting that the golf lesson was indeed scheduled to take place during the hour usually appointed and set aside for the study of English on a Friday afternoon.

Whereas others approach a golfing session with some such target in mind as “get my score below 90”, or “whack the ball 550 yards in a straight line”, and so forth, my only aim is not to make a complete ass of myself. It was the same with this here practice session I had been maneouvred into. Just don’t make a complete pratt of yourself, Hurley. Difficult, I know, but with some preparation one might at least be able shoulder one’s clubs with some semblance of hope in one’s heart. So, with that in mind, I shuffled off to the local golf-supplier’s and bought a new golfing glove.

Mrs W. was right. The instructor, Mr Tsuda, was a mild mannered, easy-going chap who made the whole process both pleasant and obviously beneficial. He watched me for a minute and then asked politely (no flicker of a malicious grin crossed his face), “How much golf have you played?”

“Er, not much. Just two or three times a year for the last two or three years…”

“How many games altogether?”

“Er, maybe ten or fifteen.”

“Do you practice?”

“Ah, um, only just before games, never after.”

“What do you want to achieve?”

“I don’t want to go around feeling embarrassed when other people are watching.”

“What score do you want to get? 100?”

“Ah, yes, well, 120 would be nice.”

First thing to do, apparently, is to avoid hitting the ball out of bounds. It would seem that in order to do that you have to hit the ball straight, and to get to that point there is a whole concatenation of procedures you have to remember to follow without thinking too hard about the fact that you are – or ought to be – following them.

I received some good clues, though. “The Japanese emphasise bending knees too much”, was one such usual hint as it seems that I was bending – or buckling – at the knee and nowhere much else. He showed me how to hold the club, get into posture, approach the ball – all stuff I’ve read about in old David Leadbetters Book.

Then got me working on the arc and the twist of the wrists. First of all he pointed out that I ought to twist my wrists (not just flap them around), and then he pointed out that it would be better to twist them sooner rather than later. Twist your wrists before you think you should, he suggested. It worked perfectly and the ball soared straight off the tee. It was pretty good stuff. I felt comfortable, had actually leart something and was enjoying the experience – especially when I remembered that I ought to have been teaching English.

David Hurley