The Hacker: The further my new clubs hit it into trouble, the luckier I get
Sunday 28 August 2011
I've always thought, in my relatively limited experience of the game, that how you hit the ball is more important than what you hit it with.
After all, put a baffing spoon or a mashie niblick in the hands of a tour pro, and a gutty on his tee, and he'd still outscore most handicap players.
For those of us hacking round at the plankton level of the food chain, so long as the clubs in our bag have not got hickory shafts, lessons are probably a better investment than the latest whizzo model.
How do you choose which set of clubs anyway? None of us has enough consistency of ball-striking to make a properly considered judgement between one club or another.
But hey, which is more fun, a set of shiny new clubs or hours of diligence on the practice range? Ano-brainer and, anyway, I didn't get any of the Olympic tickets which I'd budgeted for, so what else to spend the money on?
I won't mention the make of my new weapons, because that would be gratuitous advertising and I can't think for a moment that the manufacturer would want an endorsement from one who could have, had Dr Bob Rotella ever chanced by Bury St Edmunds, been the visual inspiration for his booktitle Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect.But if they're good enough for Luke Donald...
Relationships can be difficult to start with, but we've already bonded (sadly not Luke, the new woods). I know this because the rubbish shots I hit go further than the rubbish shots I hit with my previous clubs. And it cannot have been coincidence that, using them for the first time last week, I somehow made it to the final of one of our summer knock-out competitions.
I have to say I like matchplay. Watching the Ryder Cup was one of the things that made me want to try the game and the format lets me live the dream vicariously.
I can see the tension in Bubba's shoulders as we stand on the first tee, hear the gallery as I walk to the green to tap in for a birdie. "Sooooo... Sooooo".
Back on planet Earth, I was receiving just a single shot from one of our club's steadiest players. My game tends to be feast or famine – I regard my erratic progress round a course, via any trouble that is in range, as an ongoing tribute to Seve – but pre-match research revealed her game to be long and straight.
Sure enough, on every hole I was playing catch-up. But, thanks to the extra length from the wonder woods – even if mostly along the ground – I was still on her coat-tails and, thanks to an uncharacteristically good chip to the eighth green to put it stone dead to match her par, was only one-down at the turn.
I managed to lose the next, my shot-hole (why do we assume that the impossible death-or-glory shot from the midst of foliage will actually come off) but, as the back nine unwound, a couple of long putts holed and her brush with a tree and some sand and we were all-square with one to play.
It was my honour on the last, a long par four, and I managed to revert to the swing that has been likened to that of a one-armed paperhanger and top it 40 yards left into the light rough. Fiona hit her usual competent long drive on to the short stuff.
My recovery rocketed across to the other side of the fairway into more rough, out of range of the green; the door was now not merely ajar but off its hinges. Her second was a beautiful strike, but this is a game of buts. She was playing five out of that bunker, six on the green and ultimately missed the putt.
I truly felt for her – she really had played the better for 17-and-a-half holes – but there was no room for sentiment. I chipped on for four and, from 12 feet, ruthlessly three-putted for victory.
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