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Feb 17

Our Affair with Golf Technology

Learn to Improve As You Buy New Clubs 

I enjoy going through pro shops like Fiddler’s Green in Eugene, Oregon – clubs as far as the eye can see, by every major manufacturer.  Express interest, and there you are with a bucket of balls out back, trying them out. However, two things have developed from my relationship with new golf technology as I’ve gotten older. On one side, I’ve kept up in an effort to keep my distance relatively the same – and I have. On the other side, however, a light bulb went off that said, “Instead of expecting new clubs to fix this and that issue, how about learning to play the game better before you buy them?”

Then, I realized that over the years, I have found certain clubs, here and there, that have become relationships. They haven’t made me a great golfer, but they have found their way into membership within my bag as clubs that are friendly to my specific set of needs. Realizing this, I have tried to take the “tech” out of “technology,” and reinsert it into “technique.”
Golf Simplified logoWhat made me think of it was an article on Brad Snedeker, who uses an old putter worth $34, and other older models that feel right to him. Similarly, for me, the “keepers” are often clubs that have best melded with my swing and approach to the game. No treasures from the three hundred dollar driver barrel is going to take one stroke off of my score unless I first improve as a student of the game. Until then, I’m going with my bag full of veterans. I’m not a “techno-phobe” or “tech-obsessed.” I just know who my friends are.

I remember seeing stories growing up about Arnold Palmer and his archival collection of clubs. He and others would, from time to time, revert from the modern models, and have a good week with the ones from the back of the closet. Palmer changed putters like nobody’s business, and I can recall Doug Sanders singing the praises of his old wedge after winning something or other.

club 1I found a driver, not in the Pro Shop barrel, but the Goodwill barrel, a year or two ago that still thrills me. I joke about its head being so big that I couldn’t possibly miss it, but on one occasion, I almost fanned a drive in front of family, and we can’t have that, so it’s no joke. Talk about technology – the only thing it says on the head is “Explosive,” nothing else. Out of my several drivers, one of which either gets me on television or duck hooks me off the course, this old club gives me almost my maximum yardage, maybe one or two yards short. But, compared to the others, it is “straight, straight, straight,” at twice the average.
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We have a “scratch” in our family, and he fell in love with our Aunt Helen’s putter. Long after we lost her, he continued to use “Calamity Jane,” a 1930s blade, and still prospers with it, even loaning her to me once in a while.

So, I’m older than Niagara Falls, and playing better, more athletic golf than I did when I was half my present age. That’s the new meaning of technology to me. My big-headed driver says “Explosive,” and I don’t need to know any more. My three-wood says Tour Model O/S Series Pro Tour. My putter is a Northwestern Tom Weiskopf 314, and my irons are Square Twos, a few years old, but I wouldn’t want to leave them. Incidentally, I still carry a Wilson Staff Sand Wedge that was probably built by Thomas Edison himself. When I improve my game with these pals, I’ll consider going NASA with all of the new available “technology,” but not until then.

Of course, there is an alternative. Buy that new technology, so long as it fits you, then promise on a stack of Bibles that you’ll try to become a more thorough, conscious golfer. Then, they can really help you.
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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.