We’re delighted that this month’s Blog is written by David Harwood, retired vet, acclaimed author, Winchester Golf Academy regular and winner of the Christmas Golden Goose! Thank you David!
I “retired” from my full-time job as a veterinary surgeon just over 3 years ago aged 64 and having listened to my friend’s regular tales of their golfing activities, thought I would join them as I had a bit more time to fill.
I have always been active, playing squash and tennis for many years (although squash became riskier with age, so I decided to gradually focus more on my tennis). My hand / eye co-ordination has always been quite good, but apart from crazy golf with the children, I had never hit a golf ball – so I was starting from scratch.
I decided that I would have some lessons first, before I picked up all my pal’s bad habits. As I worked in Itchen Abbas – I had driven past Avington golf course for the past 20 years and decided to seek advice from a golfing vet friend who I knew played there regularly. He had no hesitation in recommending lessons with Emma McBride (now Emma Booth), and I duly booked 6 lessons and turned up for the first (without any clubs, and in a pair of trainers).
Emma skilfully and patiently taught me the basics of the game from scratch, and even suggested a moderately priced set of clubs from the Amazon website, which I now realise was about the same price as some of the better individual clubs on sale – but you must start somewhere, and I’m now on my third driver!
One of the most useful sessions was an accompanied round of the course – which I would recommend to anyone, and after this, I was ready to join my pals on the course.
After a couple of years, I realised that I was getting no better, and if anything, my game was slipping back – too many words of advice as we played, and googling “how to correct a right slice shot” lead to me covering my faults rather than correcting them, and frustration was creeping in!
Fast forward to Christmas 2017, and a Facebook post asking followers to “like” it to win a “Golden Goose” – which until I looked at the website I had lined up for my Christmas lunch! I was fortunate to have my name drawn out of the hat and was the recipient of a series of one to one golf lessons at the academy, and I was teamed up with Dan from day one – now four lessons completed.
We’re making progress (at least in my mind) – although after 9 holes yesterday, I do wonder, but then we all have an off day, don’t we?
Dan has very skilfully stripped my game right back to basics, he’s changed my grip, my stance, and my swing, and is slowly eliminating all the bad habits I had picked up or developed on my own. The “swing machine” was a real “lightbulb moment” my swing had been very straight, but this contraption gives a real guide to the correct club flightpath during the swing itself. A consistent chipping action was also a problem, and in equal proportions, I could either:
- Chip (or pitch never sure which) where I wanted the ball to go.
- Hit the ball square on so it travelled way over the distance I needed.
- Take a hefty divot out and the ball rolled a few feet in front of me.
Dan has readjusted my feet positions, my club angle and swing, and hey presto – more consistency – and don’t get me started on bunkers, but even my bunker shots are beginning to work (occasionally).
So now at 68, I’m enjoying my golf (most of the time) and genuinely feel that I learn something new every time I have a lesson. I’ll never have the agility and body rotation that some of the phenomenal juniors have, but you’re never too old to start playing the game, and you are certainly never too old to have lessons!!