There are few moments where we get to experience the nerves that a professional golfer must feel on the first tee. The moment you tee off in your monthly medal in front of a busy first tee or the first swings after consuming the obligatory bacon roll at the beginning of a society day. It’s as close as we come to the feeling of hitting that stationary small ball in front of a packed crowd baying for blood.
But far worse than that is the moment you get asked to play though.
Maybe it’s amicable and some older gentlemen are happy to see you move past or more likely there’s a flavour of tension in the air because you’ve been waiting on every shot for the last five holes while the Pringle jumper brigade in front fight to keep you behind them until finally giving in to the inevitable.
Either way the shot needs hitting.
If you’re lucky, they let you through on a wide open Par-5, if you’re not it will be a treacherous Par-3 over water… What happens in that moment defines you as a golfer and as a person.
Do you power through or follow through?
It was a crisp winters day in 2008, my best friend and I were living the dream.
We both worked in the local pub, had money thrown at us from the good people at the student loans company and plenty of spare time for golfing. We’d joined the Gower Golf Club on a Student’s membership (more club’s need to do this as my colleague wrote a few days ago – read his piece here).
The Gower Golf Club is tucked into the South Wales countryside overlooking the Loughor estuary. The 12th hole has a raised tee that sits upon a short, steep climb. On this particular day as we made that climb we stumbled across a couple of old men that were 'just taking a breather' on the bench and invited us to hit off ahead of them.
I fall firmly in the power through category.
I take driver, tee it up and hit it. To quote a previous article, I grip it, rip it and walk after it. That’s what I did here. Teed up and with no amount of finesse or technique propelled the ball as far away from the tee as I could.
My friend is a follow through kind of guy.
Just to clarify, by that I mean he’d rather follow through and require a new pair of discounted Dunlop golf trousers from Sports Direct than play through.
He’ll use phrases like;
'Why should we rush? let’s get our monies worth.
'If we play through then they’ll be up our arses the entire time and we won’t enjoy the round'
But he had no choice.
So, with shaking hands his pink castle tee was pushed into the turf.
One or two nervous practise swings and he was in behind the ball ready to play.
What happened next can only be described as one of the most beautiful moments of my life.
The ball flew off the club face at an estimated 800mph, cannoned into the wooden block that marks the women’s tee and flew behind us into some dense bushes.
I doubled over in laughter.
The old men smiled and asked him to hit another. More for their amusement than anything else I am sure.
He rapidly mumbled something about dropping on the fairway, picked up his clubs and vacated the tee quicker than Colin Montgomerie takes to crumble under the pressure of a major championship.
So if you fall into the follow-through category what can you do? Is there hope?
Firstly, given the reluctance to allow anyone to play through in this ridiculous age of slow golf, you may not find yourself in this situation. But to save you some money, don’t call up Dr. Bob Rotella, follow the #GCW top tips for playing through...
1) Remember that they are just as crap as you are
2) Relish the moment – You could have been stuck behind them for hours, topping one shot in front of them is better than a lifetime watching them top shots and line up putts from eight angles.
3) Power through, don’t follow through!
I'm a writer for #GCW. I like to pretend I'm good at golf and writing because I'm not ready to accept the truth about either...