Kilburnlad | Golf | Diary

Is this is really the end!

Am I or am I not going to play golf again?

Well, I think the answer might be no.

The back problem has eased after almost a couple of years of pain, but I'm not sure that golf would be advisable.

What's more, just to compound my problems, I now have something wrong with my right hip that's awaiting diagnosis. Given the state of the NHS post-Covid, if it turns out to be a serious problem I'm not sure how long it would be before something could be done about it.

So, that's where we are and it's not looking very promising.

I'm back, but it might not last

Having posted what was a fairly definitive sign off in May, I can report that I have tried a couple of come-backs. A bit like an ageing artiste who never actually retires.

However, everything is very tentative. I've played a couple of 9-hole games, on 7 and 21 September. On both occasions I started to suffer a bit after around 5 holes but despite that I didn't do too badly.

On the 7 September I recorded a 55 with 15 putts, my putting being truly awful after the long lay off. I actually parred the par 3 third. And my only 8 was on the difficult 4th, largely because we were let through and I rushed things a bit.

On the 21 September things went slightly better overall. I recorded 51 with 17 putts. Once again the putting wasn't great but I parred both the par 3 third and par 3 fifth. An 8 on the 9th spoiled things a bit, but by that stage I was having problems hitting the ball without pain!

Will I play again? With winter coming on I'm not sure. At the moment everywhere is very wet but perhaps if we get a drier spell I might give it a try.

Signing off, I think!

It's now May 2020. We're in lockdown because of Coronavirus and the golf courses are closed. But I haven't played since October last year and my sciatic problems continue to restrict me. I have good days and bad days but what is abundantly clear is that golf would only worsen things.

I didn't rejoin the club this year and am more or less resigned to the fact that my golfing days are over. I'll miss my golfing partners and the beautiful surroundings offered by golf courses. But I probably won't miss the frustration of what must be one of the most difficult participant sports on Earth.

So it's adieu I'm afraid.

Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 03/10/19

The spirit was willing but the body was weak !

My back won today. After a less than brilliant start by the time I reached the 6th I was having difficulty performing a half-decent swing as I tried to minimise the pain in my back. I really think that I shall need to wait until this back problem resolves itself, and if it doesn't I think golf might have to be abandoned. I conveyed these sentiments back in July but then things seemed to improve, and I had a pretty decent round soon after I started playing again. But things have now worsened again.

I started reasonably well on the 1st although I was aware immediately that my drive was laboured and far from fluid. But a couple of hybrids and a 6-iron got me to the back of the green. A putt on and two putts for 7.

The 2nd on the other hand was a disaster. The drive hit the tall conifer on the left of the fairway, the ball dropping to a playable but awkward position beneath the tree. In trying to not strike the branches with my backswing I actually had an air shot. The next got me out but then I pulled a hybrid shot, hitting another tree! My next 6-iron shot was again pulled, the ball ending up to the left of the left green-side bunker. I then dug in with the wedge, the ball going into the bunker. I clipped it out with my gap wedge and then two-putted for a 9. Score-wise, effectively that was the round over!

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 19/09/19

Not a good day!

Conditions were absolutely perfect. Warm, no wind, a splendid September day. So, no excuses, although my sciatica problem raised its ugly head and I was struggling a bit by the end of the round. I remembered my Game Golf device this time so we have a more accurate report.

Down the middle off the 1st tee was a good start, as was the next hybrid. But the following hybrid was poor. I took a 6-iron to the green but pulled the shot and the ball rolled into the edge of the lake hazard. Not lost, but a penalty drop was necessary. My pitch wasn't good and left me on the sloping bank of the bunker. I putted on and then two-putted for 9; not a good start.

I have in the past bemoaned the challenge of the 1st, with trees and a ditch to the right and trees to the left further down the fairway. Of the courses I've played it's by far the most difficult first hole I've encountered. I took a photo on this occasion in order to show better what I moan about.

View from the 1st tee - 19 September 2019

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 10/09/19

After my 'good' 9 holes last week today I decided to try 18 today and submit a handicap card. I need to put three cards in during the year and having missed a large part of it because of back problems, today seemed as good a day as any to start.

Conditions were perfect, starting overcast with little wind and warming up as the day progressed. After quite a lot of rain yesterday the course was actually playing very well. The fairways were cut close with a bit of give but certainly not soft. And there was actually some soft sand in the bunkers!

7th fairway - 10 September 2019

I forgot to take both my Game Golf device and my Garmin GPS, so it's a 'from memory' report today. I thought I played quite consistently with very little drama, but the final score didn't reflect this. A complete hash of the 4th ruined the front nine and missed opportunities on the back nine put paid to a good score.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 02/09/19

We had guests for a week so no golf, but back today with my best 9 holes since June 2018. Conditions were perfect. A bright sunny day with fluffy white clouds and for most of the time no wind, although it did gust a bit for a while when the sun disappeared behind the clouds.

A good drive off the 1st tee was followed by two good hybrids. My iron shot went just left of the green but a chip on was followed by a good putt for 6. With my greatly increased handicap of 31 - the result of some very poor rounds prior to quitting the game for nearly a year with back problems - this gave me 4 points on this par 5.

The 2nd also started well with a drive of 176 yards. Unfortunately I put my next iron shot into the left bunker but got out clean leaving myself a possible single putt. I in fact needed two for a 5. I decided to lay up on the 3rd but my iron shot off the tee was shorter than I would have hoped. A hold-your-breath pitch over the bunker came good, rolling on to give me what was almost a gimme! So it was a surprise par 3.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 22/08/19

After the relative success of my last outing, both in terms of the golf and my sciatic back, I tried again today. It wasn't quite as successful, with a number of poor golf shots and a lot more discomfort from my sciatica. I took the Game Golf device, which amazingly still performed after not using it for ten months. I feared a battery failure as this can happen when you leave it uncharged for a long time.

I had a good start. My drive on the 1st appeared to go towards the ditch on the right but the ball was in fact about a couple of yards clear when I got to it. A couple of reasonable hybrids followed by a 6-iron got me on the green, and a longish putt just crept in for a par 5. Amazing! I found a tree on the left with my drive on the 2nd but the ball fell clear and a low 6-iron got me back on the fairway. I then managed to put my hybrid shot in the right bunker. I'm well out of practice for bunker play and it took me two to get out. With two putts this resulted in a triple bogie 7.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 12/08/19

After saying a few weeks ago that there could be no more golf, my sciatica eased and last week I tried a few balls on the range. I had to alter my stance a bit to reduce the twisting stress on the follow through, which probably looked a bit awkward to anybody watching, but it achieved its aim. I hit the balls reasonably well and decided to try nine holes today.

Because of a misunderstanding there wasn't a place for me in the group with whom I usually play, but a friend, Claire, was playing with two other ladies and they agreed that I could join them. I played off the ladies' tees making things a little bit easier, but today was all about testing my body and seeing what was possible.

I teed off first and hit a surprisingly good drive accompanied by a sciatic twinge that reminded me to be careful. This was to happen on most shots but the walks between shots seemed to ease the pain. After this drive I hit a reasonable hybrid and then another putting me just off the green. The putt-on was short but was followed by a good putt-in for 5, a par but off the ladies' tee of course. But it was still quite a result after a ten-month layoff and with residual sciatica.

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There may be no more golf!

I'm sad to say that the problem with my back and the resulting sciatica has kept me off the golf course, and the way things are looking it's seeming more and more likely that I won't return.

Although things have improved since I stopped playing, any unguarded twist of the body can result in severe sciatic pain. Pain killers relieve it but that isn't a cure.

I miss the company and the beautiful surroundings offered by golf courses but I can't ignore an unwilling body.

Big Sigh

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