Today was a very important day in my golfing career. When I say career, I am giving a slightly inflated impression of my golf hobby, but it did seem a decent opening gambit for my loyal reader. Anyway, my very first golf coach has returned from the US of A and so disillusioned I have become with COVID-19, clinical depression, serious levels of unfitness and my golf swing, I concluded more lessons might help me deal with all four. So off to the Somerset wilds I drove and it was good.

Sam, for it is he, turned me onto golf in the first place. My partner, in an effort to get me out from under her feet, suggested many years ago that I take up a Groupon offer and learn to play the game. I was already well past the age when, had I been any good, I would have joined the Seniors Tour, but to hell with it. If Sam could make something out of what was very little by way of raw material, all well and good. To cut a long story short, he produced minor miracles.

Starting from scratch, he told me how to grip the club properly, how to stand to hit the ball and, on a good day, how to swing the club in order to make the ball travel relatively straight. Within a couple of years, I was regularly breaking 70 and sometimes even 60 on the Par 3 course at Thornbury and, just now and then, under 100m on full size courses. Better than I ever imagined. From being an obsession at first, due to other matters, my interest wavered after a while and I rarely played. Last year, I had further lessons with a different coach and he rebuilt my swing completely until it didn’t work at all. My golf was worse than ever and I wasn’t enjoying it, hardly good when you are playing something mainly to enjoy it. As none of my friends seemed to be playing – or preferring to play without me (who could blame them?) – I was almost at the point of giving up. Then Sam came back.

Within 40 minutes, he had given me back my old grip, tinkered with my swing and – as if by magic – I was hitting a decent ball again. My opening shots were terrible but some video analysis, which was very painful to watch, got me back on track with me barely noticing.

I cannot begin to tell you the levels of satisfaction I got from actually striking a ball reasonably straight and over a longer distance. If I could meet up with Sam every single day, I might even become vaguely competent.

This is the magic of coaching for you. Everything he said sounded very simple and to a point it was. Basically, he cut all the crap out of my swing and got me doing the basics again. I do not think I will be troubling the Ryder Cup team next year, but I might be playing a bit more often, slightly less badly, in the weeks ahead. If you see me on a course anytime, then give me a wave. Or better still, duck.