Getting into golf: Claydon on course

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WITH under six months now until my tournament debut, in front of the TV cameras at Stoke by Nayland’s English Challenge Pro-Am in July, I’ve finally got round to what they call ‘the easiest shot in golf’.

It sounds like it can’t go wrong when it is described like that, but believe me dear readers, playing your way out of a pile of sand for the first time is a strange old experience. And not that easy.

In fact, judging as you’re not meant to hit the ball, you could be cruelly thinking I should have found this the simplest of the tasks PGA Professional Roly Hitchcock has set me on the driving range and practice greens.

But, contrary to what my colleagues on the sports desk may think, I’ve actually become quite efficient at getting my club on the ball and being told to miss something is quite different to attempting to hit it and going wide of the mark.

The reason for not wanting to hit the ball, for those of you who had as little knowledge of bunkers as myself before this month, is you need to be hitting the sand behind it to push it on to and under the ball in order to lift it up and out of the bunker. But hit into the sand too deep and you won’t be able to get the ball out and you’ll be left with a sore hand (I speak from experience).

Writing this now though, after two lessons on bunkers, I feel confident that if I land in a bunker (likely at the moment) I should be able to play my way out of it without having to rip up my scorecard.

Using a sand wedge, the only club a sane golfer would utilise for a bunker, Roly acclimatised me to this so-called ‘easy’ shot by drawing a long line behind the ball, going across the bunker, and making me work my way down it hitting shots until I was consistently hitting the line and, eventually, making my way to the ball and lifting it out of the bunker (background Rocky music is an optional extra).

Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to as much as touch your club, which has the sharpest degree of angle on it to lift the ball, on a grain of sand before you swing it down, or you will be penalised. So add to this ‘easy’ shot the fact you must hover your club above the ball before tactifully not quite hitting it and maybe, just maybe, I can justify having not taken to it like a duck to water without losing too much face in the clubhouse. Hopefully, by July, I’ll be keeping my sand wedge in my bag more than out of it, though there’s no way I’m not chancing not practising with it between now and then!