New Equipment the Answer?
How many times has it happened? We go out and purchase the hot new thing, sparkling irons that look like they were put together on the starship Enterprise, woods that seem almost to operate by radar, and putters that look like ancient Mesopotamian scepters. “Ah, now my game is going to take off,” we say. Then, it doesn’t happen. In fact, the same thing happens that always happens. It’s a case of “wherever you go, there you are.” I’m not knocking golf equipment technology. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put a new super modern club next to an old hickory shaft whatchacallit to see that one will do what the other can’t ever do. Our mistake, though, is in thinking that these new wonders will play the game for us. They won’t – we play the game, not the stick we’re carrying.
Putter technology drives me crrazy in particular. They find ever knew ways of designing the head, small to large, bulbous to rakishly Romulan, red paint here, chrome there, gray over there – one weighs six pounds, the other is lighter than air, and we are told that one is vastly superior to another. There is only one tiny place where the ball comes into contact with the putter. The rest of it is only designed to get that tiny place and the ball together in just the right way. However, whatever putter you’re using, you adjust to it. That’s why someone like Arnold Palmer would suddently go back to the putter that won him the junior championship in Latrobe, or some such event. Again, new golf technology has advantages that continue to mount as the years go by, but it’s still equipment. The part that does not change is us – our bodies, our visions and dreams of how our shots should look, our fantasies of the ideal scorecard. Some of us are told to avoid part of the equipment, because only the pros hit those well. So, we don’t get a one-iron (in the day of the one-iron) or other specialty clubs, because we don’t play well enough to deserve them. We want to bring golf into a realm where we lowly weekenders can manage it.
Doing that is not what the dream is about, however. We see the greats do amazing things on the weekend, and we want something to thrill us in the same way that comes from our hands. So, where are we on instruction, on the range? Where are our minds on either the technical dynamics or the experiential sensations of our swings. When does, “Boy, if I had that driver, I could do this and this,” turn to “If I slow down, back up, and really train that awful swing of mine, that new driver would really mean something to a player like me.” Equipment is an alluring answer to the whole equation. The photographs are so professional, the write-ups are so well-conceived and wise, and the demo videos are so convincing. There are a lot of good companies making some awfully good sticks these days. If only we would partner our wish to own them with a wish to better ourselves, even if it means starting from scratch. And if you want to use a one-iron or its modern descendant, you just go ahead and get one. Then, go out there and just make it happen, with the same confidence on your level that a pro has on his or hers. It’s equipment, and you’re a golfer. Put the best of both together.
Slow it down, think it through, find instructors that really work for you and speak in a way that you can really get it. Then that equipment will really start to show you its advantages. But the putter that looks like it was personally blessed by Captain Picard? I don’t know – at some point, it’s still equipment