I’m terrible at golf. Can a Shoreditch centre help me improve?
- Credit: Juliette Fevre
My grandpa used to be the Mayor of a tiny French village, called Arc-en-Barrois, where he founded a nine-hole golf course. I recall my younger self following my dad and his friends, all carrying their cumbersome equipment and playing games that seemed to last forever.
Those traumatising moments are now a souvenir. But years later, I am at Shakespeare's Golfing Academy to help me reconcile with golf.
The centre has opened its doors in the very heart of Shoreditch, a feat that sounds impossible - until you see it.
Everything appears on a projection screen: the course, the holes, even the birds and landscapes. Luckily, the ball, the tee, and the club are real.
I wasn’t sure I could even hit the tee, but Tony Sheaff, a PGA Teaching Professional who has been teaching golf for 25 years, guided me.
“What’s definitely better compared to outdoor golfing: no noise to distract you and you can analyse your performance on the screen,” said Tony.
Indeed, each one of my trials generated data: how long, how far, how curvy, how straight… In technical terms: dynamic loft, attack angle, spin loft and rate, club path…
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I was also filmed by a tablet in front of me so I could check my hair - I mean my posture - after each swing.
Under Tony’s advice, I worked on my hips and feet rotation. I expected my ball to fly off into the countryside. I was always a bit surprised by the ball hitting the screen - it does not hit back, for those who are wondering! But I managed to slightly improve my performance. Nothing that would scare Tiger Woods, but still.
After the session, I received an email with data and videos of my best shot. It wasn’t brilliant - especially my hair - but Tony nicely encouraged me to keep practicing.
The owner, David Granger, made a point on one thing: unlike some of the crazy golf bars in the city - this place isn’t offering food or drinks. Golf lessons are to be taken seriously.
“Whilst catering for the full spectrum of skills and ages, we are particularly interested in attracting local youngsters who may have no other way of accessing our wonderful sport!” said David.
Well, youngsters, go and enjoy. You can practice on 87 different courses and also play games. Those whose heart goes to four-hour walks on courts could find it frustrating - sorry dad and friends. But it is a formidable alternative for city-dwellers.
Plus, during November, prices are cut in half. As for me, no tears come up anymore when I see green grass, and that is an achievement. Thank you, Tony.
More information on www.shakespearesgolfingacademy.com