By Shane Cashion
For those of us in the Midwest, golf season is once again upon us. I had the good fortune to play twice last week: once in a tournament to raise money for the St. Louis Police Department’s soccer team, and once with my uncle. To see me play, you wouldn’t know that I’m obsessed with golf, but I am; although, I don’t really care to watch golf on TV, and I certainly don’t follow any of the players. I’m basically obsessed with playing golf and buying golf equipment. I buy golf clubs like some women by purses.
Unfortunately, I seem to lack the judgment and discretion necessary to understand that the claims made by golf club manufacturers are largely just puffery. When they say their clubs will improve my slice, I hear cure my slice. So I rush right to the golf shop to test them out. What’s strange, and probably fraudulent (might be a case there), is that the virtual golf screen you test your clubs with never displays errant shots. The ball always travels down the center of the fairway. Of course back at the range or on the course the clubs immediately betray me, sending my ball hooking violently to the left, or slicing wildly to the right.
Truth be told, part of me wishes that my ball would go awry every single time I hit it. That way, I’d eventually just quit. But it doesn’t. Now and again it actually goes straight. This is evil because it gives me false hope, tricking me into believing that I’m getting closer, and that if I just find the right club, a club that’s tailored perfectly for the vagaries of my swing, I’ll be in business. Aspirational business. Senior Tour business.
Because I don’t have the patience for lessons (and don’t want a man touching me from behind) I’m vigilant about finding the right equipment. Presently, I carry 27 clubs in my golf bag. PGA rules allow for 14. I cut the dividers out of my golf bag with a small hacksaw to accommodate them all. Below is a quick inventory of what’s in my bag.
I carry three 3-Hybrids and three 4-Hybrids. One I swing with a steep sweeping motion, like a broom; one I swing like a conventional iron; and one I swing with a modified chopping motion that draws curious looks. I thoroughly researched each of the hybrids before I bought them. Since each club benefits me in its own unique way, I can’t leave any of them at home. I have to carry all of them with me every time I play.
As for irons, 3-9, I carry what are purported to be the most forgiving clubs made by a manufacturer that is NOT recognized as a game improvement clubs manufacturer. I don’t want people to think I need the help. It’s important that I look the part of a serious golfer. Because I am.
Now, somewhat paradoxically, I carry three drivers with obscenely large heads, probably the largest heads on the market. Remember those big red plastic baseball bats that were like Popeye’s forearms? That’s what my drivers resemble. Although they are equally enormous in size, they vary in loft degrees. If I’m playing well, I’ll opt for a lower loft. If I’m out of control, I’ll opt for a higher loft.
I also carry numerous wedges of varying degrees: 48, 52, 56, 60, and 64. Eventually I’d like to have a wedge in every degree available. I don’t want to ever have to take half swings or three quarter swings. It would take years to acquire that sort of proficiency.
When I get close to the green, I call for my handy dandy chipper. It’s a medieval amalgamation of a putter and a wedge that invariably draws snide remarks from my playing partners: “What are you, a hundred? You know that’s illegal on tour? I mean have you ever seen anyone on TV use that stupid thing?” Well I’m not a hundred, and I’m not on tour (yet), and I’m not afraid to use that baby from as far away as twenty or thirty yards from the green. It’s probably my favorite club.
Once I’m safely on the green, I turn to my two putters. Anyone who has played golf is familiar with the saying: Driving’s for Show, Putting’s for Dough: truer words were never spoken. In order to increase my chances of scoring well and capturing those elusive skins, I carry a traditional Teardrop putter and a 2-Ball putter. I alternate back and forth between the two, sometimes on the same green, depending upon the distance from the cup. My playing partners hate the delay, naturally, but remember; it’s MY score that goes next to my name, not theirs!
As for balls, there’s no point playing 27 carefully selected clubs if you’re just going to use any old creek ball. After extensive research, I play moderately priced no-spin balls. I find that by eliminating as much spin as possible I’m able to mitigate the frequency of stress inducing slices. They’re also a wonderful complement to the brush tees I play.
Ultimately, as my game has developed, I’ve come to realize that I’m not some seer of great golf shots. It’s literally impossible for me to predict what clubs are going to work on any given day. As such, I carry almost two full sets of clubs every time I play. What’s more, I’m not afraid to add additional clubs to my arsenal. I only wish they’d make twin bags and a roof rack on the golf cart to accommodate them.
Ah Shane - all so familiar, all so true. Nonetheless, I detect something of the hustler in your description of the way you play which would make me wary of investing any cash in a contest with you. The fact that you're actually capable of adapting your swing to suit specific clubs implies a degree of control I've never enjoyed. I swing and, if I were religious, I'd pray - but I just swing. But the game is so viciously seductive that it always lets me hit 3 or 4 good shots a round which bring me back for more.
Every once in a while Bill I'll run into a self taught guy with a "naturally" perfect swing. There are few people in life I envy more.
Very enlightening, Shane. I've never had time to learn to play golf, although my friends have encouraged me to accompany them onto the course. But I'm good at the Wii and miniature versions. ;)
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