The nights are drawing in, it’s getting a bit chilly and here in Lichfield some of the trees are being wrapped up warm (see above) but a lot of us golfers are looking ahead, thinking about renewal, out with the old, in with the new.
A while ago Maureen told me that I wasn’t to buy any new clubs until she’d given me a few lessons in an attempt to sort out what passes for my swing. I suppose I’d mooted retiring my Ping Eye 2s, irons that are now classics if not quite old enough to be genuine antiques. These days my golf bag is enormous – twice as many pockets as anyone needs, ideal for misplacing all manner of items from hats to waterproofs to car keys to purses and engendering any number of unnecessary minor panics – but it only has to accommodate 10 clubs.
In practice, out on the golf course, I rarely use more than 7 of those clubs on a regular basis. My 5-iron is useful for keeping the divot bag hanging at a handy height; the 8-iron is pressed into service now and again; and the pitching wedge, a Norman Drew special, is lucky to see a ball from one week to the next. My most used club, apart from my long-suffering putter, is a hybrid (22 degrees of loft apparently). It is looking a little the worse for wear because I have nothing between it and the 7-iron, so it is overworked, fiddling and finagling its way around the golf course to the bafflement of people who can hit irons properly.
Anyway, now that Mo is taking the plunge and updating her battle irons – well, wee skirmishes are more the order of her current forays on the fairways – she has conceded that technology has moved on and even I will benefit from some modern equipment. I’ve paid my subs for the coming year, so, all being well, golf’ll be on the agenda for another 12 months and there’s no reason not to make an effort to play better. I’ll miss the hybrid but if Henrik Stenson has retired the trusty, much-loved 3-wood that brought him so much success (including the Open at Troon after that final round battle royal with Phil Mickelson), who am I to argue with the march of progress?
Stenson is playing in the Houston Open this week and for those of you of a technical bent, his new club is a Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero 3-wood. It replaces a Callaway Diablo Octane Tour 3-wood that came out in 2011 and Stenson remained devoted to the same model until his latest version caved in at Wentworth last month. You can read all about it on pgatour.com, including details of the Project X HZRDUS Yellow prototype shaft, painted blue for Stenson, who said, with a refreshing lack of jargon, “The old stuff is out and the new stuff is in.”
At a slightly lower level (but only slightly), a friend, a good golfer, a former international, who’s recently retired, is living up to her promise to start playing more golf and went for a couple of club fittings. It was Titleist first and though she liked the clubs, she couldn’t stomach the fitter. “He treated me as if I was a little woman who just wanted a clever man to sort me out! Ugh!”
The Taylormade day was a totally different experience: “The young chap talked me through the difference in shafts, showed me the Trackmaster readings and so on. Very interesting. At the end of the session I thanked him and he said that he really enjoyed it!”
Guess which clubs she’ll be playing for the foreseeable future!
Not much use being a technically clued up salesperson if you’re clueless when it comes to the people you’re dealing with. A bit of a glitch in the customer service training programme perhaps.
Talking of glitches, my passport hasn’t turned up yet and the other day I was reminded that I probably had the AGW Trophy tucked away somewhere since I’d won it last year. It can’t be that time, already, surely? A year since being blown to blazes by the mighty winds of Hoylake? But it was and I couldn’t remember if I had the trophy or not. I checked and no one else had it, so it was down to me and the search commenced in earnest. There was no reason to panic, not really, because this year’s comp isn’t until the end of the month and we’re only just into double figures.
I kept calm and carried on looking – and there it was, at the back of a cupboard stuffed with stuff. It was a bit grubby but it’s polishing up nicely, although many years of wear and tear have ensured that it’s not as silvery as it used to be. Distinguished I’d call it. The golf writers have been playing for it since 1961 – first winner Ben Wright – but it was first presented in 1931. The original inscription is a bit faded and battered but reads: “Low Nut Trophy Presented To The National Open To Suspicion Champion By Golfdom Johnny Walker Cup Tournament 1931. Won by FJC Pignon at Scioto, Ohio, on June 25th 1931.”
Fred worked for the Daily Mail and was one of the founder members of the AGW. I don’t have my name on many trophies but I’m inordinately chuffed that it’s on this one four times – or will be when the engraver’s done his or her work. Must have found my level.
And before I forget, hearty congratulations to Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow, who have secured their LPGA tour cards for next season, terrific stuff. Wishing them both continued success and perhaps we’ll have an Irishwoman – or two – on the next Solheim Cup team……
One last thing, we’ve had a few requests for a larger and darker typeface and the blog, as ever, is open to suggestions. All help gratefully received.