My grand ambitions to get better at golf in 2018

The Scoop

After an eventful first year trying to get to grips with the game, Harriet Shephard looks ahead to what she wants to achieve during her second year as a golfer.

Social media has been particularly annoying over the last few weeks.

Mainly because of all the people who have felt the need to post long monologues about the many hardships they faced in 2017.

Or those who have foolishly decided to make public promises that the next 12 months will be their ‘best year ever’. No pressure.

I’ll freely admit that I’m one of those people who makes the same, very standard resolutions every year which are then quickly forgotten about.

They normally involve wild claims that I will read proper news and not just look at what Taylor Swift has ‘stepped out’ in recently, get amazing abs, and never, ever eat Domino’s (except in an emergency like when I’m really, really hungover).

Who am I fooling here really?

But this year is the first time that I can officially call myself a ‘golfer’, and this changes things.

After an exciting first year of trying to integrate myself into this bizarre game, which included making my first par and getting my own clubs, I now need to work out how I can possibly top that in 2018.

The obvious answer is that I need to become not-as-terrible at the game in general. Which when you consider how bad most of my shots are, shouldn’t really be that difficult at all.

However, become not-as-terrible is apparently just a bit too vague.

So here are my top golf-related things that I would like to do in 2018. After all, 12 months is loads of time to become a brilliant golfer… isn’t it?

motivated

Toughen up and play when it’s cold outside

Which I know means resuming my golf lessons and actually visiting that thing called the range.

On reflection, I was perhaps a bit too quick to dismiss winter golf as being a worthwhile or even slightly enjoyable thing to do.

Now I realise that if I only ever played golf when the sun was shining, I’d probably struggle to play more than 10 times a year. Which will obviously do nothing to help me in my mission to make my game less embarrassing.

So although I am still not endorsing playing in the rain, sleet or snow, I guess I have no excuse not to resume having lessons on an indoor simulator. As well as being extremely useful and beneficial to my game, it means I can’t continue using the old ‘oh but it’s cold and dark outside’ line as a valid excuse not to pick up a club.

It’s certainly more productive than staying in on an evening and having to engage in a battle of wills with the left-over Christmas chocolate.

Plus, although the course itself might be soggy and miserable, there’s clearly no reason why I can’t  visit the undercover range for the occasional half an hour of therapeutic ball whacking.

Admittedly, I still haven’t hit a golf ball in 2018, but as we’re only a few days in I don’t think I should be too hard on myself just yet. It’s important to be realistic after all.

Play more courses

I get that most people have a ‘home course’, but I also recognise that just playing the same course over and over again isn’t really the point of this game.

Visiting new and interesting clubs across the country, or even overseas, sounds like one of the best bits of my still relatively-new hobby.

So once the summer comes and I am amazing at golf (may as well start with high expectations), I plan on being brave and trying out lots of other courses.

At least I only played about five in 2017, so surely this is one resolution that I can actually keep.

year

Don’t worry as much

In general, but particularly about the prospect of playing golf.

At the moment, the idea of playing with someone I haven’t played with before fills me with complete dread. Or even if I’m playing with friends, I find it very hard to relax until I’m at least a few holes in, and only if it isn’t going really wrong.

So this year I will make an active effort not to panic and stress about not being good at golf, or the possibility that my next shot will be a disaster. I know that this will only increase the chances of it going straight into a lake or bush anyway.

Surely the whole point of playing golf is to enjoy it. Which I do when I actually chill out a bit.

Keep count and get a handicap, even if it is unofficial

I just don’t keep track of my score. I either lose count or don’t bother, mainly because it soon becomes apparent that I have no chance of winning anyway.

I’m totally fine with this but I know that at some point I need to start noting down what I shoot over a round, not just on the holes that go remarkably well.

As much as I like playing with no extra pressure, it would be nice to eventually get involved in a match. It would also show me how much I’m improving, or failing to improve as will most likely be the case.

But of course this means that I will have to start properly understanding what you are meant to write where on a scorecard. Which is a prospect that’s both confusing and worrying, especially for someone with very large, messy handwriting.

Actually work on my short game

Occasionally, I’m not too bad with my driver. Which has resulted in me labelling this as best part of my game and therefore my favourite.

So logic dictates that this is the only bit that I ever want to work on. Why would I want to faff around trying to chip onto a green, or tap a ball into a hole? It’s just frustrating and nowhere near as enjoyable as hitting a ball as hard and as far as I can.

Perhaps I struggle to see the joy of putting or chipping because I have rarely (or never if I’m being honest), experienced the satisfaction of sinking a great putt or chipping the ball to within a few inches of the hole.

But of course I know that I can’t keep ignoring my short game forever. I’m told that improving it will help me to ‘save shots’ and develop something called ‘technique’.

So finally, I will make sure I also show my putting and chipping some love this year. Rather than just deciding that because I am bad at it I will avoid it at all costs.

How sensible is that?

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