Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Call the Shot! - How we did it..

Thanks to everyone who commented on the 'Call the Shot' page. There was a great response on Twitter, Facebook and of course, the 'Call the Shot' page on this blog.

Here's a video of my buddy @russellggolfer playing the shot. From what I recall he used a 58 degree wedge, ball central, club open a tiny bit and weight favouring left side.

We'll do another one soon... thanks again everyone!

By the way, I have tried to play this shot several times since and failed miserably. : )

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

King Cal bleeds Golf. Part 1 - Introduction

The very instant I met Albert 'Cal' Crompton, I knew he had golf written into his DNA. 

It was 8 years ago, I'd just recently joined the golf club and showed up one day for the tri-weekly 'swindle'. I'd been invited by a chap who saw me out playing alone a few weeks prior. (For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a  'swindle' is an unofficial club gathering of players. We show up, pay a pound or so and get drawn out in groups. There are small cash prizes for the 1st and 2nd placed individual stableford scores, as well as a prize for best team score.) 

Cal used to be a regular 'swindler' and I had the pleasure of being drawn to play with him many times over the years. His membership at the club started in 1956 when it was just a 9 hole course. Cal is now 93 and still playing golf, and is truly an inspirational man, as well as a very entertaining one!

Cal, pictured here in 2008 after his big win.
More about that in Part 2!

Today, I looked Cal's number up in the club diary and gave him a call. Here's a snippet of how the conversation went, pleasantries have been edited out for convenience sake :)

'Cal, I've been writing some articles about golf and now I'm thinking of writing about people I know who are passionate about the game, are you interested in doing a little interview? You'd be the first!'

'I'd be happy to help Steve, do you want to drop by?', I was relieved to hear him respond.

'Sure, when's good Cal?, I live just down the road. I'm fairly flexible'.

'How about 10 minutes time?

'See you then!'.

And off I went.


Before I write and publish Part 2 of this blog post and document the actual interview, I'd like to tell you about some of my experiences with Cal over the past few years. An introduction of sorts.

Countless times I witnessed Cal's competitive nature. Every time he played, he was playing to win and would often get frustrated with himself over a fluffed chip or a missed putt. At first it amazed me to see a guy in his late 80's still playing with such fire in his belly. It didn't take long for the amazement to turn into inspiration and aspiration.

One day, we were playing together in the swindle when his second shot on the 13th, (a short dogleg par 4) went into the dry ditch about two thirds of the way up the hole. Just as I was about to offer to retrieve his ball for him (I'd assumed he'd be taking a drop), I noticed that he had climbed down into the ditch with a lob wedge in his hand.

'Aren't you going to drop that Cal?, I asked.

One swift flick of a wedge later, his ball was back in play and a good 20 feet closer to the hole.

When Cal was 89, some guys at the club had a little surprise party for him, which unfortunately I couldn't attend. A few days later, I met him on the course...

'Cal, sorry I missed your surprise party the other day, did you have a good time?'

'Yes, it was great Steve', he replied with a smile. 

'But don't worry about missing it, the big one is next year!'

Nowadays, Cal no longer plays in the swindle. By his own admission he 'gets a little tired after 10 or 11 holes.' However, he's still playing 3 times a week in a regular 4 ball.

'I often think about turning up for the swindle', he says - 'but I'm not sure I'd make it round and I don't want to hold anybody up'.

I sensed some sadness in his voice, and my immediate thought was 'this guy wants to be out there competing.'

A caricature artwork of Cal, presented to him by his two sons on his 90th birthday.
The text  reads 'The oldest bandit in the club'.

I'm going to end Part 1 now, but I do hope you'll read Part 2 (the interview with Cal), when I publish it in a few weeks. We discussed a great deal, one of the highlights being Cal's victory in our club Captain's prize in 2008, at 89 years young. It made the Cambridge Evening News.

Oh, and by the way - I videoed his swing too. You've got that and much more to look forward to!

Thanks for reading, see you around :)


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

We gotta get right back to where we started from...

If you've read this post, you probably already know that three years ago I made it down to an 11 handicap and then decided to change everything about my game, and I mean E V E R Y T H I N G.

I felt that a complete refit and overhaul was necessary to get me to single figures. There was something about the way I was playing back then that made me think I'd peaked as a golfer, my skill level couldn't get me any further. Some disagreed and thought I was crazy to embark upon such a seemingly sadistic journey. At times I thought they were right. For a while I went back up to 14, which was soul destroying. I generally hovered around 12 for most of the three years, scrapping out results with a new swing I couldn't trust, and moreover a new swing which put extra pressure on my (already average) short game.

After almost 3 years of lessons and hundreds of hours on the course and driving range I've arrived at my first milestone. I'm right back where I was when I decided to change everything. Back to an 11 handicap.

Perhaps from the outside, it seems nonsensical to celebrate such a milestone. Nevertheless, I'm smiling.

During the process of change I sometimes thought I had completely scuppered any chance I had of becoming a better player. I started to think that I'd added too much mechanical action whilst subtracting a substantial amount of personality from my game. Now I know this is not the case. Despite the long and winding road, I now know 100% it was worth it.

Lately I have been producing very good results even when I'm not playing particularly great. Furthermore I'm shooting in the 70's about 80% of the time whereas before it was more like 20%, if that. I've made it back to 11 without firing on all cylinders whereas in the past I needed to work hard to get to and maintain that handicap.

This time round it's going to be different. A few years ago the number 11 represented the end of the road. This time it represents the beginning.

I'll keep you posted!