‘I just want to be Greg Norman, not Norman Wisdom’

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IT is all Daren Clarke’s fault.

You couldn’t turn on the TV the other week without the genial Ulsterman grinning at you and explaining that he won the Open on a training regime of Guinness, cigars and not going to the gym.

And so, like every other bloke in the country, I took that to mean there was hope for me yet.

I do the same training all I need to do now is learn to hit the ball properly ...

I arrive at Southfield driving range, on the Long Crendon Road, in the middle of lesson time.

A man in unsuitable trousers is explaining the secrets of the golf grip to a novice.

The novice has brand new clubs and Rupert the Bear’s trousers, and joins the pro in staring at my battered old set of Peter Thomson irons that I inherited from my father 20 years ago.

They don’t seem very impressed, but big Darren probably had to start somewhere so I smile politely and carry on.

I am not at ease yet and don’t really concentrate as I put my £3 into the machine. Balls fly everywhere as I belatedly try and get a basket under the chute.

I want to be Greg Norman not Norman Wisdom and now have to walk the walk of shame along the back of the driving bays to find a space.

On previous visits there was the added fun of a big green jeep parked 100 yards out.

Someone has clearly told the driver how silly he is to park there every day so my line of sight is clear apart from a family of rabbits on the extreme left.

They are perfectly safe as my first few shots fade gently towards Haddenham, and to be honest would be even safer if I did aim at them. I am more wayward off the tee than Tiger Woods is off the course.

The occasional shot goes where I aim it but there are also three loud ‘THUNK’ noises where I somehow fire at 90 degrees from the tee and smack the wood dividing me from the next golfer.

The golf pro, and the rabbits shake their heads and ignore me.

I like this place. I like the way the ball pops up on a tee for you, I like the fact that people like me can be just as bad as proper golfers, and I like the fact that after half an hour I no longer have dreams of being Darren Clarke.

I drive home looking for a new challenge.

How hard can it be to be Phil ‘The Power ‘Taylor? ...