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Feb 25

Relationships with Every Golf Club

Which Golf Club do You Love or Hate

Oh, go on and admit it. Those of us who take golf seriously, sometimes too seriously, have anthropomorphised golf clubs into relationships that represent iconic types of delightful and destructive human interactions. I’ve known one or two men through the years who take this to the extreme, and have done it myself just far enough to recognize it in them. Let’s say, for the moment, that the driver, emblematic of golf ego albeit not always score, is a spousal relationship.. Anyone who has been praised, read the riot act, and played golf knows precisely what I’m talking about. A good or great drive is like an idyllic marriage. Everything feels good and looks good On a par 4, a great drive knocks out the vast bulk of the hole’s length, and much of its dangers. When it isn’t working, the distance feels more like a mission to a distant planet. A super-slice or duck hook into the weeds feels like being cheated on, betrayed, and a colossal waste of money, because you probably only get to stand on that tee box once today. For me, one cleansing round with the driver remaining at home is sometimes the solution for getting it back on track,. Teach it a lesson. Don’t let it play.

A member of my family tree saw the long irons as fair weather friends who borrow money from you all the time, but never pay it back. From my “batting record” with long irons, I can see his point. It’s one of my most problematic relationships. Two and three irons are so satisfying when they go just like you drew it up in your mind – but they so seldom do it. More often than not, they are errant and disappear when you need them most. Once you work into the mid-irons, relationships become friendlier and more trustworthy. I’m actually surprised when I hit a 5 to 7 iron that’s truly bad – a little off the mark here or there, but I almost never miss one in epic fashion. These are the clubs that almost always pay back the money you leant them,  However once you reach the full 8 or 9, things change. It’s like having a relatiionship with a mule. If they feel like it, it’s a done deal. If they don’t, they sit down in the road and you miss 18 greens you could have hit with a croquet mallette. The 8 and 9 irons are not truly evil. They are just friends who need more special attention than the others. With a 5, I just go simple-minded, put it in the middle, and swing a normal old George swing. It seems to work out most of the time. The 8 and 9, however, put me in shanking range. Repetitive shanking is like arguing in publc with a loud, petulant child. I can almost hear a bad 9 iron screaming “I won’t I won’t I won’t.” A wedge screams the same thing, but a good deal louder. And don’t get me started on sand wedges. With a sand wedge, the screaming turns to riotous and sarcastic laughter. If you’ve totally lost all respect from a partner in a relationship, you’ve been interacting with a Sand Wedge.
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There is a method to holding back on the putter for the end of my diatribe. Finding the right words takes time, and theological questiions are often  involved. On the good end, the putter is the worst example of a bad used car salesman, or a con man who talks you into investing in gas-powered back scratchers, or some such thing. At the worst, it is not of this world, and you won’t find it by looking up. It’s from the other place. Once in a while, the most evil club in the bag will throw you a curve and grant several healthy-sized putts in a row. Don’t buy it. It’s stringing you along so you’ll four-putt the one with the $100 bet on it, If you ever strike a Faustian bargain with the devil, and he shows up, check carefully to see if that’s his walking stick or a putter. Sweet-talk it all you like, but believe me, it’s a no-win relationship.

Despite all of this, golf continues to be an adventure worth taking, as we wait for the kinder aspects of each club to roll around. Who knows? We may yet experience a general bliss, a moment in time when everything in the bag gets together and agrees to give us their best  for an entire day – yeah, right.

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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.