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John Pettitt holding the “Ryder Cup” 1985

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I have probably missed so much that I could have put down on paper but I never kept a diary, the brain cannot now remember everything I have done or achieved unless something jogs my memory.

I am grateful that I was able to hold handicaps no higher than six for forty years, fortunate enough to have attained the magical scratch and been able to play in the quality competitions only available to a few.

Technology has not improved the overall scores; in fact handicaps seem to be higher these days. Metal woods have brought nothing to the game apart from making driving a lot easier to hit straighter, but at the loss of being able to work the ball like we used to do with the old persimmons. The current thinking and marketing hype is that one thinks it is possible to buy a decent game, when we all know that is impossible, only dedication in working on the correct fundamentals of the golf swing will produce consistent results. It is a total waste of time, energy and money going down to the range and practicing a poor swing.

I spent one round with a South African member of our club in the Roll-up who was off 28, but hit the ball miles in every direction. All I did was show him the one handed drill that I do to make sure that I am on plane and he suddenly realized how easy it was to hit a wedge with just a hint of draw (Control). Every other club is played the same way. He was over the moon after that round and it has taken him only six months to come down to 12.

Our own Stuart Govan had the benefit of that at my club and he shot a fantastic 78, so it is possible for everyone to hit the ball properly.

Just remember that this game is really very simple if we stick to the basics and concentrate. In order to score well then it is imperative that one can produce a shape, be it a slight draw or a fade as it is only with this ability that one can them aim where you want the ball to go with any confidence. It is a waste of time hitting an iron into the green if you do not know what way it is going to go and even the best amongst us very rarely  attempt to hit a shot dead straight.

The good player always looks for the bale out area where he knows that he has a good chance of getting up and down should he not find the putting surface. This is not being defensive this is the only sensible way to play a medal round. If the course is familiar then you will know by where the pin is on the green whether you need to be short or long to give you the benefit of the easier putt. After all we all know that any six foot putt uphill is far easier than any six foot putt downhill, or with any kind of borrow.

It is this kind of attention to detail that makes the difference.

I know that I could improve anyone who wished to improve, as so many shots are wasted by poor club selection, poor course management and a poor temperament.

Believe it or not, as one gets better so does the enjoyment. There is nothing to beat the feel of striking a ball perfectly and on target and those are the moments that makes us come back time and time again to play this wonderful game.

I sincerely hope that all of you who read this have just as wonderful an experience as I have had in my lifetime of golf.

John Pettitt 2008

Golf Expert
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