During his years atop golf in the early 1990s, it was sometimes said of Sir Nick Faldo (and only slightly in jest) that if he hit one of his patented iron shots and it came up, say, two feet short of the flag, then Faldo’s caddie Fanny Sunneson must have given him a bad yardage.
Of course, no one could be quite that good, not even Ben Hogan himself. What was clear, though, was that Sir Nick expected that type of precision from himself. I remember following Faldo at the Open Championship at Turnberry in 1994 and watching him leave an 8 iron 20 feet below the pin. Faldo’s reaction? To stand incredulously in the fairway, his hands on hips, for what seemed like a full minute, just staring at the ball in disbelief.
I was in my early 20s then, and still had hopes of one day figuring golf out. So after that, I too began staring at balls that didn’t land where I thought they would – pretending I had any business believing I could hit the ball where I wanted to in the first place. Channeling Sir Nick. That’s how I thought of it.
Twenty years later, that stare is still part of my post poor-shot routine. A couple of my golfing buddies even call the distinctive routine “The Silk” in honor of my last name. Here’s how it goes:
- I make a jerky, off-balance swing.
- As the ball soars woefully awry, the feeling of the horrific swing reverberates through my hands. Before I’ve even finished the follow-through, I’ve proceeded with what a cousin calls
“the club release the instant you know you detest everything about that shot and yourself as a human being.”
- Next, I pluck my hat off my head and spike it to the ground.
- Fourth, I launch into a (usually awkward) punt of the hat. If I’m lucky, it moves three feet.
- Finally, with the wreckage of my tossed golf club and spiked hat surrounding me, I silently place my hands on my hips, and Sir Nick-like, stare incredulously in the direction of the green. The ball, of course, is usually not within my frame of vision.