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  • Alistair Tait

How to throw like a golf pro

It could have been the greatest golf magazine front cover ever, and the best instructional piece ever ran in the history of golf instruction. Golf Monthly readers were about to learn the “tomahawk,” the “helicopter,” the “quiver" and, the pièce de résistance: how to “spear the caddie.”

The April edition of Golf Monthly was set to teach 100,000 readers to throw a golf club properly: they were going to learn to throw like a pro.

That was the headline I’d dreamt it up after the only time I’ve ever thrown a golf club.

I was playing the par-5, fifth hole on the Dukes course at Woburn. I was on my own, out for a few holes on a quiet Sunday afternoon. I’d hit a nice drive up the left hand side of the fairway and reached for my faithful 2-iron.

Well she was faithful until that day. The relationship came to a sad end when I threw her out of my life and she played hard to get even though I begged her to come back to me.

As anyone who knows the Dukes course, the fifth hole has a large depression to the left of the fairway, which needs to be carried to leave a short pitch to the green. I topped my shot into the depression, then hurled the club in a fit of pique.

I’ve got nothing on Tyrrell Hatton. A late release meant I pulled the club so badly the 2-iron ended up in the pine trees in knee-high grass.

I needed 15 minutes to find it. Thank goodness the course was quiet. Thus ended my club throwing days. I haven't thrown a club since. Honestly.

Golf instruction was my department in those days at Golf Monthly. I organised the content, the photo shoots, working with contributors like Bernard Gallacher, Mark McNulty, Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie, Peter Baker, Mark Roe and others. I knew which one I could entice to participate in my 2-iron inspired, club throw photo shoot the following week in Dubai.

I had scheduled a session with Roe on short game instruction in Dubai and sat down with him beforehand to outline the instructional content. Mark was easy to work with, eager to pass on the short game knowledge that turned him into a fine coach of those skills when he retired after three European Tour wins in 526 career appearances. However, he became animated when I suggested a club throwing instructional piece.

We zipped through the short game stuff with the photographer, and then began the club throwing portion of the shoot. Mark had thought it all through.

The “tomahawk” portrayed Mark like an Apache Indian with golf club extended over his right shoulder, his body in a sort of baseball pitcher’s pose, about to throw the club towards the body of an opponent.

The “helicopter” was the classic twirling of club high in the air so it rotated like a helicopter blade. Mark said you had to throw the club with draw as if you were throwing a boomerang.

The “quiver?” That one depicted Mark driving the club into the ground head first with such force the shaft quivered back and forth as if it was a sword blade.

The ultimate fit of anger when it came to club throwing was to "spear the caddie" after a bad yardage. So we had a photo sequence of Mark throwing a club at stand-in caddie Dave Kinsey. We arranged the club between Dave’s right arm and his torso, photographed it side on and it looked for all the world as if Mark had speared his caddie. We even had a sequence of Dave falling backwards to the ground as if he was in the act of dying.

We drafted text to go with each “shot” as per a proper instructional feature, with the usual instructions on how to perform each throw.

It. Was. Brilliant.

I returned to Golf Monthly’s offices in King’s Reach Towers near Blackfriars Bridge in London the following week and waited in anticipation for the photographs. They were as good as I thought they would be, especially the cover shot of Mark’s tomahawk.

Sadly, editor Colin Callander wouldn’t go for it despite my best sales pitch, despite my pleading and begging. We ran Mark’s piece on how to play high flop shots instead.

Ho hum.

Too bad, it would have been the best April Fool’s joke ever played on golf magazine readers.

#JustSaying: “Always throw clubs ahead of you. That way you don’t have to waste energy going back to pick them up.” Tommy Bolt

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