The Mailbag - February 2010

Editor: The Gorilla gets quite a few letters and he’d like share a few with you here. All answers are the opinion of the respondent.

Dear GG Guru,  My wife wants to learn to play the game. Is this a good idea? And should I teach her? I’ve heard from some of my friends that this could be a big mistake! MB Boston, MA, USA

Dear MB, Your friends could be right. This is true whether it is the husband,wife, boyfiend or girlfriend who is considering being the teacher. It all depends upon how you handle this. First of all it is a good thing for your partner to take up the game. You can look forward to some nice golf vacations and being able to spend some quality time together. But make sure that they get lessons from a competent teaching pro. Teaching your  partner to play golf is as risky for your relationship as trying to teach a spouse to drive. Don’t attempt it.

Looking into the future, don’t  consider playing in a team tournament with him or her. The GG Guru has seen some ugly scenes on the course when spouses aren’t able to stand up to the pressure of such “friendly” matches. This has been the case when the spouse was the much better player too.Stick to non-competitive rounds, unless both of you are driven and both are quick to forgive and forget!

One final point, you don’t always need to play together. Ladies enjoy some rounds with the girls and guys will appreciate some matches with their buddies. Good luck, GG Guru.

Dear GG Guru, It is winter in Switzerland and I miss golf. What to do? P-AD, Lausanne, Switzerland

Dear P-A D, Have courage, spring is right around the corner. But if you are really desperate, you can easily jump on an airplane in Geneva and be in the south of Spain or in North Africa in less than 2 hours. There are some great courses at reasonable prices in Tunisia and in Morocco. French speaking caddies for you too.

Sometime, however a winter break is not such a bad thing. Get the bad habits out of your system and be nicely anxious for the new season. Take the time to clean your clubs, get them re-gripped, clean all the junk out of your bag, shine your shoes. Get ready. And get your body ready too. The GG Guru isn’t going to tell you to go to the gym religiously, but it you can do that, great. Otherwise, have a good brisk walk every day (even better for your legs if this is through the snow!) . When you sit at your desk, squeeze a rubber ball. If you have the chance, exercise on a stationary bicycle. In other words, work on your hand and leg strength.

Finally, think about your golf swing. Visualize what you know is correct and rehearse that in your mind.

Soon you will be back on the course and hopefully playing better than ever.GG Guru.

Dear GG Guru, My two friends and I play twice a week We are tired of stroke play and find “skins” to be too random. Any ideas for a format for our matches? AA, Bogor, Indonesia

Dear AA, Our last reader from Lausanne will be incredibly jealous to see your message. The GG Guru knows well the attractions of playing  golf in the shadows of the volcanoes outside Jakarta. You and your buddies are lucky guys to be playing there twice a week. There are lots of game (and betting) options to spice up a round of golf. The GG Guru will devote a future blog to the subject. But let me suggest that you three play a game called “6 points”  which is a form of match play designed for three players.  You each play your own ball and count your score normally (using any handicap adjustments).  The net score for each player is then compared. If one player has the lowest net score on the hole, he/she receives 4 points; the next lowest net score receives 2 points and the worst score gets nothing. If there is a tie for the second best score, each of the players receives 1 point. If two players tie for the best score they both receive 3 points and the other player receives nothing. If all 3 players tie for the best score, they each get 2 points.  Keep track of the cumulative score. Of course you can assign a monetary value to each point, or just play for the competition. The beauty of this game is that all three players are involved in each hole and that there will be changing alliances. Try it out, GG Guru.

Dear Jo, On the fairway my ball moved a couple of cm away from its original position when I addressed it. My partner called a penalty stroke on me, but I didn’t agree since I never hit the ball. Who is right? MvB, Wurzburg, Germany

Dear MvB, It’s a stroke. Get a rule book and learn the rules. Golf sometimes doesn’t seem fair, but it is greatest game – in part because we are supposed to call penalties on ourselves. Move on,  Jo “Triceps”

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