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Clubbing It

April 8, 2009

I’ve been playing a good amount of golf lately and, if I’m honest, I have to say my game is pretty shitty. It hasn’t always been this way though.

Don’t get me wrong, I was never going to be a threat to Tiger or to win the Master’s, but there was a time when I could consistently play bogey golf for 18 holes. Nowadays, not so much, though my goal is to get my game back there one of these days. As far as I’ve been concerned, my biggest problem has been that, up until recently, I haven’t played consistently. If I averaged six rounds a year over the past five years, I was playing a lot. That said, there may be more to it than that.

First of all, my swing can use some help. It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a lesson and I’m sure that spending a few hours with a pro would do me a world of good. I do some things well, but I’m inconsistent. Some days, I feel like I’ve got great command of my short game, but my iron play is completely screwed. Other days, I can putt from anywhere on the green, but it takes me five shots or more to find my way to the putting surface. It’s always a mystery as to which part of my game will show up from round to round.

On top of that, I’m playing with what is, to be honest, pretty old equipment. Most of the clubs in my bag are pushing 20 years old, which is a pretty scary thought considering I bought them all new. While I always love stopping in at a golf store, I never really believed the so called “improvements” that club manufacturers come up with each year are anything more than a clever way to get obsessed players to part with thousands of dollars at the start of each new season. Still, I think I’ve successfully amortized my golf club investment and it’s time that I start replacing equipment.

On Sunday, I wandered into my local shop to ogle the new irons I’ve been considering for awhile. I’ve hit them in the booth a few times and, if the machine is to be trusted, they’ll send the ball farther and straighter than clubs I’ve been hacking with for the past number of years. In fact, I would have probably dropped the cash on them already except for the fact that I need to custom order the set I want, and it just seems like a hassle. Since I was in the store, I also decided to hit some new woods to see what might replace my ancient TaylorMades. After talking with the sales guy for awhile, he showed me a 2008 Nike driver that was on sale for half price. We taped it up, took it to the booth, and amazingly enough, I hit it well. Straight and, for me, long. What’s more, since it was a close out club, it was not only on sale, but it also came with a second club – for free. $215 later, the driver and its 3-wood companion found their way into my bag.

Hitting a club well in the fitting booth is one thing, however. Taking it out on the course is another. So, imagine my surprise when I pulled the head cover off on the first tee today and smacked a shot about 240-yards straight down the center of the fairway. It left the club face, climbed into the air, and landed right where I wanted it to. Amazing. Of course, one shot is just that – one shot. But then, I hit a shot that was almost as pretty on the second tee. And another on the fourth. Sure, not everything striped the fairway as beautifully as I would have liked, but nothing snap hooked or sliced either. If I wasn’t in the fairway off the tee, I wasn’t far off.

Maybe it was the club. Maybe it was the confidence of having a new stick in the bag. Maybe it was a combination of both. All I know is that for every good drive I hit, I hit at least one lousy iron shot per hole. Sure, there was some good strokes from the fairway, but there were plenty of chunks and mishits too. So, the question is – is it me, or is it my clubs? I guess I’ll find out when I finally get my new irons.

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