Re: Something wrong with golfers these days... (re: equipment)It's been a while since anyone posted on this topic. I guess all of the passions that were raised by the original question have cooled. It’s obvious that the question has provoked a great deal of thought but like most important questions, few, if any, important answers. I have decided to reply now with the fervent hope that no one actually reads this thinking they will find any answer to the question, or even worse, feels compelled to respond to it. My comments are not really meant to address whether modern equipment fixation is causing something to be wrong with golf today. What follows is rather a very personal statement about my own equipment addiction and why I intend to do something radical about it. Take from it what you will.
Several weeks ago, I was moving things around in my office and came across my father’s beautiful, very old, Kroydon 2-wood. I have kept it behind my office door since my dad died in 1999. Because the door is almost never closed, I almost never see it. But there it was on that cool rainy day, sitting and waiting patiently for me to pick it up again. Other than the new grip Daddy put on just before he died, it looks exactly like it looked 50 years or so ago when I first remember seeing it. It’s wonderfully aged persimmon head, fluted shaft, and perfect balance had not changed. When I put my hands on the grip, memories of the man who swung it, the man who taught me how to play the game, and the man I alternately loved and hated for fifty years, came back in a rush. I could still see the old Louisville Slugger blades and the bronze Ben Hogan putter he used I recalled the wonderful times he and I shared chasing little white balls around innumerable courses, how important I felt pulling his ancient pull cart behind me – because I was his caddie. I remembered how as a kid I was in awe of the precision with which he struck the ball, the predictability of the little draw that he hit, and the beautiful arc – starting low, then rising into the sky – of almost every drive I ever saw him hit. All of those wonderful memories from that old Kroydon 2-wood.
What’s “wrong” with my golf today is that I traded the opportunity to leave my son an equally tangible part of myself for a failed quest. Because I quested for the holy grail of the perfect golf club, I cannot leave anything to my son with the same powerful attachment that my dad’s club has for me. You see, “my clubs” have changed 10 times in 10 years. I, like so many others, have fallen victim to the rapidly changing technology of golf and the promises of instant results that we buy them for. I have had at least 5 sets of irons, 4 drivers, 4 different sets of fairway woods, three sets of hybrids, and more putters than I can count since my dad died. Unfortunately, all produced equally unsuccessful results. Not surprisingly, I have almost the same handicap I had 10 years when my equipment addiction started and very little to show for all of my effort.
Fortunately, I do have great golf memories with my own son. When he was ready to learn, I taught him all that I know about the game. My son and I have played a lot of golf together, had great moments, and shared days on the course that I hope will stay with him long after I am gone. What he won’t have, unless I do something radically different in my golfing journey, are “my clubs” to channel memories for him as my dad’s clubs do for me.
Therefore, I have decided to do something different. I sold off my collection of failed golf experiments. I took the proceeds and bought a set of Titleist muscle-backed blades. I also bought a new “old” Louisville persimmon driver on Ebay. This winter, I will add two new “old” persimmon fairway woods. I have turned my back on the panacea that modern golf equipment has promised us of excellence without perspiration. I am going back to the game I first learned from my dad almost 50 years ago. I am convinced that my game will not suffer. In fact, I really believe that in the long run it will actually improve. I am aware that my “new” clubs are cranky and do not suffer poor swings gladly. I am prepared for a loss of distance, occasionally wounded ducks, and ugly fluttering flameouts. I am willing suffer these humiliations because, in the long run, I will learn how to avoid them by actually working on my swing again. I am fortunate that all of the damage that modern equipment has done has not completely ruined the swing I learned from the wonderful teacher who spent hours working with me – my dad. I have a great foundation to rebuild my game on.
But, even more importantly, it is my intent that this set will be “my clubs” for the rest of my golfing life. I am convinced that golf clubs are different than other sporting equipment (with the possible exception of shotguns, pool cues, and ball gloves). If we use them long enough, in some metaphysical way, a part of our being is imbedded within them. In short, they become “ours”. At least I hope so. (I am also convinced, in case of golf clubs, that the new stuff doesn’t have same capability to store dreams that muscle-backed blades and persimmon headed woods have. Titanium woods and perimeter-weighted, cavity back irons simply lack soul.)
I have no idea what my son will do with my clubs when he inherits them. But I hope that some rainy day, he might find one hiding behind his office door. I hope that it will invoke a memory or two of the times we shared. If that is the case, I can’t help but think that I will feel that I have accomplished something important. If not, it will still be wonderful for me, thinking that I tried. So, if you come upon an old man on some tee-box and you notice a worn bag full of equally old clubs - be very respectful. Remember, he is not only playing the game he deeply loves. He is also weaving dreams.