Playing the Avenue

Healesville Golf Club's 11th hole, a 147m Par 3.

The golf swing is an important dynamic in every golfer’s game. A nexus that begins from the time of picking the club up; with straight arms whilst standing astride a motionless golf ball positioned on the ground between the stance.

The physics of the swing comprises of an angular motion of the torso, about a balanced fixed point, allowing the club to climb to a cocked position and return along the same path generating speed, velocity, acceleration, momentum, mass transference, torque, kinetic energy and centripetal force into a ball and onwards into a follow through.

Understanding the physics of the golf swing is one thing. The other is perfecting it’s practice to create the muscle memory necessary to execute the technique time and time again and most importantly, under the pressure of competition.

If ever proof was needed, you only have to play a round of golf with Grant Handasyde, a member of the RACV club for longer than he can recall for certain.

Fortunately Dickie Taylor has kept records that show he joined in 1995. It was the time Grant set himself a 12 month goal to get his handicap into single figures. This, he achieved one week before the deadline and Dickie says, “He was immediately drafted into the 1996 RACV Pennant team.”

“I did play a few sports, cricket and tennis but it was golf that captured my imagination and I just spent every spare moment hitting golf ball after golf ball until I achieved a swing I thought was authentic to me.” said Grant.

At his best Handasyde had lowered his handicap to 4 and here is all the proof you need to encourage the development of that golf swing: some two and a half decades on, Grant is 2 shots the worse (6), so it’s fair to say his game has barely waned over the years.

This was something I had come to appreciate having watched Grant play the front nine and then having just finished playing the Grotto. We arrived at the 11th, the “Avenue” a par 3.

The destination from the tee to green is about 160 metres or so east towards the 9th, over a bunker sitting half way up the fairway on the left. Its positioning creates a rather narrow avenue of approach especially when you raise our eyes. The limbs of the nearest gum are intruding the flight path… if you are a left hander, that is!

“I think the best way in here is from the left because it borrows towards the centre of the green.” Said Grant reading my thoughts.

“Ok”, I said. “You can go first”.

I stood back and watched as Handasyde carried out a number of checks. It seems to be a ritual where he methodically prepares; aligning himself to a target line, placing his club beside the ball, checking his grip, stance and balance.

There’s no rush of aggressiveness in his back swing, it’s even and fluent. The head doesn’t move, his eyes never leave that area of the ball he’s honing his club into. There’s no hint that he’s searching for any extra power, because his energy and power is released effortlessly.

This is all done in sync with as his weight transfers power through his arms and legs and into his club on the downswing and to the follow through.

The unmistakable sound of Grant’s quality strike equated to the speed of the ball as it disappeared into the distance and from the tee block we followed it’s flight; slightly to the left of the flag stick we picked up its bounce and there in the distance, a white dot of the ball sitting idle on the putting surface near the pin.

Grant parked his buggy by next week’s 12th the “Island” walked to the short grass with putter in hand and waited until it was his turn. He sunk his birdie putt and took home the prize for nearest the pin.

Let’s hope we’re all out on the course again soon.

Congratulations to the competition winners:

Tuesday August 3rd.

Jason Rush (4) 39

Rob Reed (20) 35

Ben Eyton-Jones (-3) 35

And bravo to Kennith Emslie and Max MacIntosh who carried on through the torrential rain and winds later that afternoon.

Nearest to the pin:

2 Kennith Emslie

4 Rennie Mathewson

11 Jason Rush

16 David Hutchins

Thursday August 5th

Rob Reed (20) 66

Alan Davidson (12) 68

Doug Smith (23) 69

Nearest to the pin;

2nd Rob Reed

4th Geoff Hopkins

11th Karl Hradsky

16th David Hutchins