A mysterious golf teacher will be celebrated on film if Clint Eastwood

has his way.

FEW people will have heard of a professional golfer by the bizarre,

yet strangely appropriate name of Shivas Irons.

Over in Hollywood, however, superstar Clint Eastwood certainly has

and, by a strange set of circumstances, I am also thoroughly acquainted

with him. Shivas, rather than Clint.

In fact Shivas has played a major part in my golf, and probably my

life as well, over the past eight years or so and if Clint puts him on

celluloid he will soon revolutionise tuition for millions of other

golfing nuts.

Let me drive-off explanation-wise, not hitting the ball with the

''sweet spot'' at the centre of the clubface but slicing back a little

in time.

It was 1985 and we were standing or rather cowering, on Gourock pier

on a roaring black night, awaiting the rerouted Arran ferry which would

take my new American journalist friend Tim Geaney, to the island for a

winter golf tournament.

He would face several stomach-churning hours and as he prepared to

climb, or rather in the circumstances walk, the plank he handed me a


''The Arran tournament, a mad challenge in the middle of winter, was

my excuse to come but this book was the reason,'' he shouted above the


In the warmth of the waiting room watching the ferry vanish into the

unknown I glanced at the book. Golf in the Kingdom by Michael Murphy, a

founder of the Esalen Institute in California.

Part of the New York Times review of 1972 printed on the back, said:

''Michael Murphy was on his way from California to India (to study

philosophy and meditation) when he met Shivas Irons on a golfing links

which he calls Burning Bush, in Scotland. They played 18 holes together

and had a second go at the devilish 13th hole in the middle of a wild

whiskey night -- a mythic round that profoundly altered Murphy's game

and vision . . . it is a mystical tale.''

That night I made my first attempt to read and understand the book and

I've been doing so regularly ever since, alternately benefiting from its

mystic messages for both golf and life then forgetting all about them

and having to go back for another transfusion.

Then suddenly, a few months ago, Clint Eastwood arrived in Scotland

and played over two Fife courses, seeking a suitable location for his

next film, yes, ''Golf in the Kingdom.'' What's more he is said to want

Sean Connery, no mean golfer and ready-made Shivas Irons if ever there

was one, to play the part.

So what's it all about and which Fife course is the mythical Burning

Bush where Murphy played with Shivas in 1956? By my earliest reckoning

it could have been one of several, with the odds heavily stacked on

Balcomie at Crail.

It fits the bill perfectly in terms of shape and contour and while

Clint played the Old and New Courses at St Andrews during the visit they

certainly don't. They are far too flat and anyone trying to play them

full of whisky in the middle of the night would probably be shot.

The purpose of Clint's visit was supposed to be secret but it leaked

out. After he had played in St Andrews he drove down the Fife coast

having a look at other course.

In his introduction Murphy says: ''For reasons political and arcane I

cannot tell you its real name. Maybe you have played it yourself and

will recognise it from my description. But I must warn you that even its

terrain and the name of the town in which it is located are veiled, for

the members of the venerable golf club that governs these linsk are

strangely threatened by the story I will tell.''

The R & A or the committee of ''Burning Bush'' threatened? Not in any

practical way, of course, unless you regard the itinerant professional

Shivas Irons as a threat, heading out into a ravine at night looking for

his mysterious ''teacher'', going into a ecstatic trance when the sun

comes up and generally acting as a poet/philosopher/golfer whose prowess

on the links is inspired by secret forces.

Murphy learned a lot in that first round, number one being to keep the

correct score as, Shivas told him:''Ye must remember that ye're in the

land where all these rools were invented. 'Tis the only way ye can play

in the kingdom.''

It wasn't until later that Murphy realised that to Shivas the Kingdom

of Fife very nearly meant the Kingdom of Heaven.

The philosopher had plenty of humour too. When Murphy thrashed about

in a whin bush Shivas shouted: ''Bring me a bouquet when you come oot.''

Next Murphy hit his badly gashed ball so that it wobbled across the

fairway in first one direction then the other.

''Guid man,'' cried Shivas, '''tis the first time ah e'er saw a hook

and a slice in one shot.''

But under Shivas's guidance strange things began to happen. First a

violet aura appeared around the ball as he was about to hit it with the

sweet spot. When he got back the horrors about playing from another

disastrous position, Shivas told him to ''come back where ye were a

minute ago (in mental terms). They'll pass. Wait em oot.''

These words were a great help -- not only for the rest of Murphy's

round but for the rest of his life, he reported.

A night of drinking followed and Murphy learned from the village

doctor that if people played more games and danced more ''entire wings

of our mental hospitals would be emptied''. In fact, for him the perfect

golf course would have bagpipe music at certain holes.

Later Shivas again. ''Ye see Michael merely shootin' par is second

best. Goin' for results like that leads men and cultures and entire

worlds astray. But if ye do it from the inside ye get the results

eventually and everything else along with it.''

Philosophy and eastern wisdom poured from Shivas's soul. He had

studied mathematics and physics and the relationship between

consciousness and physical laws.

''Golf is an exercise in perspective: every shot requires that you

estimate where you are in relation to the target. Enough golf springs

you free from your attachment to any point,'' said Shivas, meaning that

every movement on the course like every moment in life is to some degree

unique and unrepeatable.''

Down on Arran my friend Tim was discovering this with a vengeance.

Somehow the article of mine about the daunting Arran tournament which he

had read in the New York Times had triggered off the metaphysical

sensations he'd had when he first read Golf in the Kingdom. He was

looking for mystic golf experiences in Scotland, whether it be Arran or

Fife, and on the Blackwaterfoot course he found them -- a hangover, a

loose swing and a force 8 gale all giving him a new perspective on golf

and life.

Lay members of the community, i.e. non golfers, will say that this is

all madness but golfers themselves know that the geometry which produces

a shot of true gravity and perfection are from the ''sweet spot'' of the

club is mental ecstasy itself.

At least one hopes Clint Eastwood thinks so and if Sean Connery is of

the same mind boy, will we have some picture!

The Esalen Institute at Big Sur, California, is a new age encounter

therapy group with courses on the existential model of applied

vulnerability, whatever that means. Probably Shivas would have