CLICK AT YOUR PERIL!
Want your email inbox to get really clogged, really quickly? It’s easy. Just click on one of those ads on Facebook or Stuff or the NZ Herald website telling you how you’ll be able to add over twenty metres to your driving distance!
What happens when you accept one of those great offers on the internet.
I'll admit it. I'm a sucker for those deals that should come under the heading “if it sounds too good to be true, then it most definitely is.” But heck, adding twenty metres to your driving distance when you're 63 years old is surely an offer than can't be refused.
It's not like I was giving my bank details to some guy in Nigeria. I certainly wasn't clicking on a deal to make me feel frisky in the marital bed.
No, no. This was a completely harmless - and free - offer to improve one of the most important things in life. Not my bank balance, not my sex life - but my driving distance.
Now to be fair, I've never been a Ryan Fox or a John Daly when it comes to distance off the tee. But in the days when I played a bit of competitive golf like interclub pennants and the occasional tournament, I was never embarrassed about how much I conceded on the drive. In fact, I could generally keep up - especially in summer in those great old days before fairway irrigation!
But something's happened in the last three or four years. 360 metre par fours are now a driver and rescue club. If I get my drive out 210 metres, I've absolutely nailed it.
It's actually little comfort to know that what has happened is completely natural. For a man of my age, 210 metres is regarded as an average to good drive.
But still, there's no harm in trying to get longer is there?
So I clicked on the ad. It was a deal from Hank Haney. Now here's a guy with a bit of a reputation. He used to coach someone called Tiger Woods. Had a fair bit of success with him.
Only a few months ago, I read a book by Hank Haney that detailed his coaching theories with Tiger.
The book was called “The Big Miss.” Essentially it was about how he taught Woods not to lose it left off the tee and put himself out of play. It was a good read. But I digress. The free video and advertorial I clicked on showed Hank Haney explaining that golf is lot easier if you can hit it further off the tee. Stands to reason of course. Hit it twenty metres further off the tee and a 360 metre par four becomes a drive and 7 iron instead of a drive and rescue club. The chances of hitting it on the green with a 7 iron are much higher than with a rescue club. And so it went on.
This was hardly ground breaking stuff. What I wanted to know was just exactly how I could hit it twenty metres further?
Then it came on. It's the Speed Stik!
Of course. To get longer off the tee you have to swing this weighted, flexible shaft with a magnet type thing on it that slides down the shaft as you come through the imaginary hitting zone. The weight of the Speed Stik apparently improves your strength and hey presto, after 15 to 20 swings with it, you're knocking it out 15 to 20 metres longer off the tee and .. you know the rest.
Now I had absolutely no intention of buying this gismo, but I made the fatal mistake of providing my email address. I don't know why. I think it was to get some more “free video lessons” from Hank Haney.
Bad move. The ambush started. Every day something arrived in the inbox from my new friend Hank. The titles were enticing - “He cut 22 strokes in 3 days - you can too.” Or “Here is your 24 minute Swing makeover Video” followed by “60 swings per round - make them count.” It was relentless.
Funny thing was that when I had the time or the inclination to look at them, all of them came back to the Speed Stik. The price was enticing too. Down from $US119 to $US99. I mean how could you not buy it? So I'm ashamed to say I did. Actually, by the time it included delivery, and the conversion to New Zealand dollars it came to $179.53.
Naively, I though that if I bought it the deluge of emails might stop. Some hope. In fact they only increased in regularity. What's more, there were offers of more training aids too. So as well as the Speed Stik, I could, for a few more dollars get the Plane Finder, the Pro Styx and the Power Connector.
I didn't bother, but still the emails keep coming. One every day. Who knew that there was so much to talk about in a golf swing? Funny thing is, I noted that virtually none of the lessons involved that little thing which usually makes up between 30 and 40 percent of your score - putting.
For now, I've got used to seeing a Hank Haney lesson in my inbox everyday, and I hit delete straight away.
And how, you might ask, is the Speed Stik going ?
Well, at the time of writing I'd only played once since I acquired it. I haven't been using it as much as I should be - that is 15 minutes every day. But it's a good warm up tool to get the body rotating and nice and loose.
So I had a few swings with it in the car park at Te Puke recently and went out and shot 76, which is pretty good for a 63 year old 8 handicapper.
Was it the Speed Stik ? Maybe, but I think it was more the 27 putts that made the difference.
Will I keep using the Speed Stik? Yes, because it's good exercise if nothing else.
Will I keep deleting Hank's lessons? Probably, because the game is complicated enough as it is and a video lesson a day is just too much information.
FINAL WARNING if you're tempted by one of those ads on your Facebook feed or news website - click at your peril!
Peter Williams with his Swing Stik.