The Hacker: I'm trying to keep out ofthe trees with a wood
Sunday 14 September 2008
My refusal to be brainwashed any more by big-headed driver manufacturers – or, to put it more politely, the manufacturers of big-headed drivers – has brought me new hope of breaking 100 in a medal before the season ends.
The three-wood I bought in a fit of resentment against those who have forced so many innocent hackers to replace their drivers at great expense performed promisingly on its first outing last week. Furthermore, among the support for my bleat last week about the outlawing of so many millions of clubs because their faces were too springy – but didn't seem to hit the ball as far as the new legal ones – came a fresh dimension to the argument from Graham O'Neill of Didsbury Golf Club.
Graham agrees it was a "draconian bit of legislation". He bought two XR05 TaylorMade drivers for himself and hiswife, and they had the word "Approved" stuck to the shafts. He wrote to the R&A for guidance and says he was treated with "shameful disrespect". The club wasn't on the conforming list, and that was that.
"The people the R&A and the USGA should be targeting are the manufacturers, most of which are in the US assembling club parts made in China," writes Graham. "The quality control of Chinese products leaves a lot to be desired. Dare I suggest the conforming heads may not necessarily be conforming?"
To add China to the forces ranged against us doesn't improve our chances of getting any sympathy, although, we've probably got more chance with China than the R&A.
Meanwhile, as with everything else in golf, you have to play it as it lies and get on with it. That's why I abandoned my year-long search for a driver to replace my illegal one. They all seem to hit it further, but I wasn't as comfortable with them.
Then I recalled chatting with a fellow club member who said he didn't understand why high- handicappers tried to blaze away from the tee with balloon-sized drivers that were totally unsuitable. They were much better off hitting shorter but straighter with a three-wood.
That used to be the considered wisdom years ago, before Eli Callaway invented the Big Bertha. He did that principally to provide the high-handicapper with a more forgiving driver, but it was the pros who jumped at it.
Since then, the driver market has gone berserk, with a vast array of different brands all claiming technical advantagesin language it is impossible to understand. I've happily turned my back on them, and with the vouchers I was given for Christmas I bought a Callaway X three-wood, and unleashed it during a break in the weather at Royal Porthcawl last Wednesday.
After so many weeks of rainit felt like the first day of spring, and my new club found more fairways than I normally do. It is also a relief to look down upon a club-head that doesn't frighten the life out of you.
A veteran of more false dawns that I can count, I am wary of optimism, but I'm looking forward to using it in our President's Day tournament this weekend, when I'm partnering a three-handicapper who fancies doing a bit of missionary work.
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