Weekend hacker Eric Haughan aims to transform his golf game in 2018. In his latest dispatch, the 12.4 handicapper admits that he has not made enough of the glorious summer.


Golf is hard.

If this was WhatsApp I’d include a frowny face emoji right about here, possibly accompanied by that one with the monkey covering his eyes.

In the past weeks my golf game has been up and down more times than Frankie Detori’s backside.

Frustration wrapped in a TaylorMade bag and brought to you by a putter that, like an unruly teenager, does absolutely whatever it wants whenever it wants.

There are few pursuits that can chide you like this great game. What it gives with one hand, it can take away with the other.

And here I am, caught between golf’s rock and hard place. Like a racehorse that leaves his best effort on the gallops, I feel in danger of becoming one of those guys who does all his best work on the range – and spends his on-course time repeating the words, ‘I better play a provisional, lads…’

And that has been the story of the past six weeks of golf. One step forward followed by two steps back – usually with a penalty stroke thrown in.

Looking like Freddie Couples on the driving range – and Freddy Flintstone on the links.

I can take some solace from the fact that the range is not a bad place to be. At times of hardship, it’s good to go where everybody knows your name.

You only get what you put in – and in recent weeks, with the weather at its finest, I’ve let the hard work slip

My own ‘home’, Grange Castle Golf Club off the Nangor Road in Dublin, has recently opened its new driving range and it’s on that very range where, unfortunately, I’ve played all my best golf of late!

A modest operation surrounded by competition, Grange Castle was this year afforded some well overdue recognition with a place in the Top 100 courses on Irish Golfer’s hot list.

In the eight years I have spent there, I have seen the handicap drop from 17 to 12 while the course itself has gone from strength to strength. Credit where it is due, the buoyant membership reflects this. If you doubt me, just try getting on the timesheet any weekend!

Now, you might be forgiven for assuming a perfectly kept golf course, a stunning practise putting green, lessons in golf – and life – from none other than the great Neil Manchip, as well as the best golfing summer’s weather since Old Tom Morris was in short pants would automatically lead to golfing prowess on this hacker’s part.

Well, that’s exactly what I thought too!

If there’s ever any aspect of life that finally sends me around the twist, it’s probably not going to be 25 years of being an Aston Villa fan or 30 years of playing club GAA badly – as I had long suspected.

No, it will most certainly be the nauseating feeling that, despite the fact every area of your golf game has (seemingly) improved, the scores remain the same (here I’d have went for the ‘rolls eyes’ emoji followed by that one where yer man is shrugging his shoulders).

All that being said, as golfers, we tend to delude ourselves. It wasn’t a bad shot, merely a bad bounce. We’d have had a great score if only a few putts had dropped etc etc…

I played all my best golf in the early part of this year and the reasons, when I’m honest with myself, are staring me in the face. And the answer is as boring as it is obvious. You only get what you put in – and in recent weeks, with the weather at its finest, I’ve let the hard work slip.

I spent more time on the putting and chipping greens in post-snow April than I did in 28*C July. As a result, the scores levelled off and eventually began to recede and the handicap, frustratingly but inevitably, has largely stayed right where it was.

As if I wasn’t feeling inadequate enough on the golf course, a recent invite to the Northern Ireland Open ProAm at Galgorm Castle gave me a front-row seat to the easiest round of 64 from young Waterford pro Gary Hurley. ‘Real’ golf, as they say.

That’s the beauty of golf, at the end of the day we are only responsible for ourselves. There’s no club manager to give you a bollocking when your workrate has dropped.

Perhaps a bit of Alex Ferguson’s hairdryer would do me some good.

The first step, they say, is admitting it. My name is Eric. And I’m a lazy git!

Anyhoo, the weather’s still sharp, the evenings are still long(ish), there’s plenty more golf to be played and, if nothing else, I’m sh*t-hot on the range right now!

Keep the high balls low, folks (*sunglasses emoji*)…