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Golf: Golf Doctor; HOOKS,SLICES,GRIPS OR YIPS,HERE'S THE PROBLEM PAGE THAT HITS SWEET SPOT With Balmore pro Kevin Craggs - one of the UK's top coaches*.

Byline: Kevin Craggs

THERE is a hole at my local club which has an out-of-bounds area all the way up the right-hand side and I've developed a big problem with it.

Every time I've played it recently I have sent at least one ball over the fence.

Whatever I try - grip change, aiming left etc - makes no difference. I stand on the tee and my ball is somehow mystically drawn to the right. Any tips?

FRASER HUTCHENSON (Edinburgh)

IT is not the first time I have heard of this type of problem. In fact, I must hear of similar symptoms on a daily basis.

Having a bogey hole during a round of golf is a common problem but nine times out of 10 it can be overcome by changing your mind-set. What you must do is change the way you look at and play the hole.

Start by looking at the positive things the hole has to offer rather than putting all your energy and efforts on protecting yourself from negative thoughts like, 'Don't go right, don't slice, don't go out of bounds'. Thoughts like this only lead to the inevitable disaster because you have told your brain about all the things you don't want to do rather than the things you do want to do.

Once you start looking at the hole more positively, think about playing it differently. For instance, instead of using a wood from the tee use a four-iron. This way you are almost guaranteed to hit the fairway off the tee every time. OK you might have a longer second shot and make the occasional bogey but there will be no more disasters and, as your confidence grows, you will be able to progress back to the woods and play the hole more confidently.

I HAD a Lottery win recently and want to go up in the world. One of my plans is to join a posh golf club but I don't want anyone - least of all my grubby golf mates - to know I'm in the money.

I can't be bothered playing with them because they're all too poor and smelly but if I quit my current club and am spotted at the fancy one they will rumble me. What should I do Doc?

ANON (Paisley)

FIRST things first, congratulations on your Lottery win and remember all donations to The Golf Doc's Benevolent Fund are gratefully received.

I think whilst you may be in the money and about to mix in more affluent circles, it's always a good idea to keep your feet on the ground as you never know what's round the corner.

Regards joining a more up-market golf club this is a nice luxury for those who can afford it but

be warned - prestigious golf clubs may offer attractive facilities but can often lack a warm and friendly atmosphere.

I don't think changing your lifestyle should mean you need to change your friends - even if they might be smelly. I'd recommend you build your own golf course with shower facilities, free soap and shampoo and invite your pals to join.

I HAVE been playing golf for a number of years and cannot beat anyone at the game.

My short game is good but my tee shots let me down. I hit them straight enough but cannot get any distance. It does not matter if I hit the driver, two-wood , three-wood, four-wood or five-wood from the tee, I hit them all the same distance - 140-150 yards.

Given the number of shots I've played to get to the green, I've already lost the hole. I have had lessons from two or three professionals with no success.

W GARGILL (Fife)

THERE could be a number of reasons why you are losing distance with your woods but I am going to prescribe a cure which you probably haven't tried yet.

What I would like you to do is start by trying to shorten your backswing. Everybody assumes that the further you swing back the further you will hit the ball but that is wrong. Most amateur golfers are prone to taking the club too far back in the

backswing, inevitably making it harder to bring the club back to the ball on the correct line.

Concentrate on making a full 90 degree shoulder turn in the backswing, ensuring your arms don't go any further back than the three-quarter point. You will gain better control and club-head speed by doing this.

Finally, once you have familiarised yourself with a shorter backswing, focus on keeping both arms extended after the strike. Too many times I see golfers pulling their arms into their body - but that shortens the arc and shortens the shot.

It is important you remember to continue the arms, driving through into a balanced and powerful finishing position. So remember - shorter backswing, extend the arms after impact and finish into a balanced position and you will see your distance come flowing back.

I PLAY off a handicap of 2.3 and regularly follow your tips.

Generally, my game is solid - until it comes to tap-ins from two or three feet out. No matter what I do, I just can't stop missing them.

It has got to the point I'd rather be 20 feet away from the hole than two feet away. Can you help me?

JAMES CAMPBELL (Troon)

struggling with such a simple problem. However, all is not lost and I may just have the key to help unlock those demons and get you looking forward to those tap-in putts again.

Next time you are on the practice putting green place six balls in a circle around the hole, approximately three feet away. Make sure that at address you are either focusing on the ball or the hole but never both. I see so many players looking a the hole and the ball which leads to unwanted head movement, causing the putter head to go off line.

Now concentrate on keeping your legs perfectly still throughout the stroke. There is no need to worry about what line the putter takes in the backswing or follow through - providing you keep your legs steady throughout the whole stroke the putter will remain on the correct path.

#Thomas Diamond of Bishopton, Renfrewshire, won the Doc's Ping sweater last week.

BEING a solid putter at your level is an essential factor to good scoring and it's never very pleasant when you hear about a good player
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 23, 2005
Words:1075
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