With a hard-earned reputation for being blunt and forthright, let me come straight to the point: How much would you be willing to pay for each shot that I could knock off your handicap? Since golfers will shell out vast sums on equipment, quite a bit on lessons and the odd few quid on (superb) magazines like this, full of helpful instructional advice, surely each shot off your handicap is worth, what would you say, two, three, four or maybe even £5000?
Without wishing to upset equipment manufacturers, teaching pros and, least of all, magazine editors, the stark truth is that the beneficial effect of new clubs, lessons and tips is unlikely to be anything other than marginal and ephemeral.
There is really no escaping the fact that, for most of us at any rate, golf is a ceaseless and uneven battle against seemingly overwhelming odds. We’re pretty dreadful and should by now have realised and accepted that we are never going to be any good and that all our efforts to improve are inevitably doomed to failure because we simply don’t have the talent. But we battle on bravely in the mistaken belief that one glorious day the sun will come out and the ‘secret’ will be revealed to us which, despite hitting or, rather, miss-hitting, tens of thousands of balls over the past decades, had never made itself known before.
Irrespective of how impractical and unobtainable it is, the dream of a lower handicap is an important and worthy goal to which most of us aspire. Unlike those pedalling the golfing equivalent of snake oil, I offer help that’s both radically different from anything seen before and, most importantly, hugely lucrative. You see, a lower handicap is just one of my ambitions; accumulating enormous wealth is another.
Since the well-heeled readers of this magazine are precisely the people I hope will warm to my scheme, your interest, support and money is essential to my success. However, before I unveil my revolutionary idea that I genuinely believe will slice a handful of shots off your handicap let me reveal that my research suggests that those with handicaps between 20 and 28 should see theirs tumble to somewhere between the mid and high teens whilst those with handicaps from 13 to 19 should come down between four and six shots. Although lower handicappers would also benefit, I’m not especially concerned about them since my priority is wealthy duffers who would willingly pay considerable sums to be less self-conscious about their handicaps.
It’s Not for Golfers to Make Adjustments But for Us to Adjust to Them
My ‘mission statement’ is: “It’s not for golfers to make adjustments but for us to adjust to them.” So the really good news is that you don’t have to change your posture, realign your stance or, God forbid, alter your grip.
Okay, I think you are ready now for the revolutionary “Agran Golf and Country Club” concept. Although the intention is eventually to roll out several dozen all over the UK, they will essentially be very similar. Broadly, each will contain four par threes of between 80 and 150 yards, 12 par fours of between 270 and 320 yards and four par fives, none of which will exceed 480 yards. Furthermore, since 85% of golfers slice the ball, the overwhelming majority of the par four and fives will dog-leg right. These same holes will not only be aligned so as to benefit from the prevailing wind but, wherever practicable, will also be downhill. Although my belief is that golfers would much prefer a long uphill walk into the wind after the round than take on the elements during it, I might offer a buggy ride back to the distant clubhouse on top of the hill for a modest £10.
Other interesting features of these courses will be a total absence of bunkers, water and anything remotely resembling a hazard. This will both avoid needless penalty shots as well as speed up play. And there will, of course, be no out of bounds even if this means shots having to be taken from private gardens, railway lines or busy roads. If any homeowners or authorities object, the remarkably generous local rules will permit a drop without penalty.
The fairways will be wonderfully wide with mounds on either side encouraging the ball back into the middle and, taking my cue from Augusta National, there will no rough worthy of the name. The greens will be huge and shaped like saucers. Since they won’t be wasting their time raking bunkers or cutting the rough, the green staff will be able to concentrate on producing immaculate smooth greens.
In recognition of the fact that golfers are attracted by big names, I propose to design the layouts more or less in the style of Jack Nicklaus and christen them “Jack Nicklaus (Forged) Signature Courses” thereby appealing to the upper end of the market whilst saving millions of pounds by not having to engage the services of the Great Bear himself. However, it might be prudent to put some money aside in the event of there being any legal proceedings, which brings me seamlessly onto the cost of membership. Don’t forget, as well as golf there will be snooker with enlarged pockets and tennis courts with sensibly low nets. Considering that you will be able to play on, not one, but a network of ‘sympathetic’ courses and will certainly slash your handicap, is £5,000 per annum too cheap?
Golf writer Clive Agran, 65 and a journalist for more than 40 years, Clive Agran still wonders what he’ll do when he grows up. Nicknamed ‘Silky Swing’, he travels the globe looking for the world’s best golf courses.