No. 9 – From Hitting Dustbins To Becoming A Competitive Golfer

After I told dad that I’d like to have a shot at playing golf, he ‘phoned around for me and within a week, he had procured an old wooden shafted club from one of his brothers, a bag of second-hand balls, most of which were still in fairly good condition, and a huge box of wooden tees.

I was used to using the hourly bus service that ran from our village, through the nearest town, Airdrie, to the next town, Coatbridge, on-route to Glasgow. Every week I would miss half a day of school and get on this bus on my own, get off in Coatbridge to catch another, more frequent bus, to near where we used to live before moving to Longriggend. I got off the second bus to visit a physiotherapist. Yes, more than eleven years after I was born, the medical profession was still trying to make my life more “normal”. Secretly I wished that they would just leave me to get on with it on my own. But I digress, let’s get back to today’s story.

On the Saturday after my decision to switch my main sporting attention from soccer to golf, I caught the bus to Airdrie along with some of my hard-saved pocket money and bought a book about the fundamental concepts of a good golf swing. I had nearly finished the book by the time the bus home arrived at its destination, but I re-read it countless times in the weeks and months that followed.

The old club that dad got from one of my uncles, was a cut-down old 5-iron. Its wooden shaft had lost its grip and what, presumably, was once a silver head, was now a dull brown color. It wasn’t rust, just a discoloring with age. Using this old implement, keeping the contents of the book in mind, and with Dad’s help at first, he was a sixteen handicap golfer himself, I started to try to hit balls off a tee.

I must have hit hundreds of balls down the ashy area behind the school over the next weeks, in the evenings, and all day at the weekends. I’d hit the 20 or so balls I had, then go and gather them up and hit them again. When it got dark, I’d have dinner before re-reading the instruction book.

It took about 2 months of practice before I could consistently hit the balls in the air about half the length or more of the hundred- yard strip of ash. Of course, I mishit a few and very occasionally would miss altogether. At the beginning I had trouble hitting the balls in the air, but, through reading and re-reading the book I had bought I realized that this was caused by transferring my weight from my right leg to my left leg too early.

After I gained more consistency, I found a couple of old dustbins and placed them at either end of the strip. Playing with only one ball, I would go up and down, up and down, aiming to hit the bins in the least number of shots possible. “Dad”, I would exclaim after an afternoon of practice. “I went up and down 72 times today and I had 8 twos, 40 threes, 21 fours, and 3 fives, or whatever the numbers were, all kept in my head without a scorecard.

To cut a long story short, for my twelfth birthday, I was given a fairly new, second-hand half set of unmatched cut-down clubs, including two woods, four different irons I think, and a putter. The following Christmas Dad joined me up as a junior member of Airdrie Golf Club, which had a full-sized, hilly, 18-hole course.

By the age of sixteen, I had gone around in under 100 shots, using a full set of matched clubs of course, at seventeen I was given the maximum handicap, at the time, of 24 and, at the age of twenty-one, my handicap was down to 18 and I won my first major trophy.

From then until the age of fifty I played competitively in the many countries where I have lived, helped to a large extent by golf’s handicapping system, which works so well. I only gave up completely when I suffered a stroke when I was sixty years old, but the fond memories I have of playing golf will live with me forever. And to think, it all started with a wooden shafted, grip-less old 5 iron.

So, all you budding Internet Marketers out there. What can you learn from all of this? In the previous blog, I told why it was okay to change strategies, as long as you have given the original strategy adequate time and effort from you for you to be sure that you wouldn’t be able to make it work. As it was with me and soccer.

In this blog, on the other hand, I can tell you that I knew deep down inside that I could become a reasonably good golfer as soon as I started experimenting with it. Therefore, notwithstanding that I sucked at it in the very beginning, I stuck with it and didn’t stop even after I had reached my goal of going around a full-sized course in under 100 strokes..

Similarly, once you find the marketing strategy that you know, deep down inside, will work for you in the end, stick with it, don’t be sidetracked, don’t become just good at it. Master it, by getting help from your mentor, books, relevant help desks, and even good old Google and YouTube, and you will succeed as long as you stay focused, consistent and work at it every day.

A few days, or perhaps a week ago, I told you about my trials and tribulations with a tricycle. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about my trials and tribulations with a bicycle. I look forward to communicating with you then.

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