Get into the swing of the new year

NEW YEAR’S resolutions don’t have to make you miserable. While giving up smoking might make you live longer, and brushing up that CV could put another rung of the career ladder in sight, neither are going to put a smile on your face while you do them. Honing your golf swing, on the other hand, is another nagging item on to-do lists the world over. But this one can actually claim to be fun.

Now, the more perceptive golf followers reading this piece may be wisecracking to themselves: “Not in this weather, pal”. And it’s true, traipsing through 18 holes in temperatures nudging cryogenic is marginally less enjoyable than root canal treatment. So thank the Lord for simulators, where technique can be perfected without losing extremities to frostbite.

With this in mind, and only the most rudimentary of swings in my armoury, I accepted an invitation to try the Golf Lab in Canary Wharf. There, coaches are on hand to deconstruct your technique and analyse it with the kind of fastidious attention to detail Ian Poulter employs when deciding what to wear each morning. Only here the results are to everyone’s liking.

Driving at a virtual fairway might lack something in authenticity, but more than makes up for it in the range and precision of technology on hand to tell you precisely where you are going wrong. It will tell you if you’re hooking the ball or slicing it, how far you can slug it on average, map out the trajectory of each and every one of your shots and tell you the speed with which club meets ball.

The really useful bit, however, is that cameras set up at different angles record you as you thin the ball into the canvas. Luckily they don’t capture the wince etched on your face or the expletives you mutter in the immediate aftermath. The recordings are the used to pinpoint which parts of your action are a little too stiff, or not aiming right. Are your arms keeping that triangular shape into stage two? Well they should be.

Thankfully, William, my coach for two invaluable lessons, was on hand to explain how wretched my attempts were, in the most sympathetic terms of course. He then set about, with my recordings, talking me through which aspects I needed to adjust in order to achieve a purer swing and -- more importantly -- hit the ball further and straighter more often. Because after all, that is the point.

While Lee Westwood can rest easy for the time being, I emerged from my sessions with a much improved swing -- and have the video footage to prove it. With introductory lessons from as little as £23, it needn’t break the bank either.

And for those wanting to practice on a more regular basis, Golf Lab members can drop by and use the simulators seven days a week for £88 a month (includes a free lesson every month). Not bad for the satisfaction you’ll reap over the summer. For more info on the Golf Lab in Canary Wharf go to www.reebokclub.co.uk.