The great thing about writing a blog, especially when it’s a self-indulgent exercise like this one, is that you can write about whatever you like, absolutely anything that takes your fancy.  You’d like it to take your reader’s fancy too but if they’re a friend and signed up for the long haul, that’s not vital.  They’ll skim through, raise their eyes to heaven and hope for something better next time.  If there’s a snort, a laugh, an expletive along the way, so much the better, job done, you’ve got their attention briefly, a bit of a reaction and a lot of a connection.

That’s a roundabout way of saying that this week’s blog is beyond self-indulgent because mostly it’s about me, me, me.  A few weeks/months ago I signed up for a couple of club fittings at the golf club, the first with TaylorMade and the second with Ping – stop me if I’ve told you this before.  Both makes were great, improving my numbers (swing speed, distance, launch angle – ho, ho, ho because the figures were so woeful as to be verging on non-existent but we can’t all be Bryson).  I plumped for the Pings mainly because they felt great and it was quite a while since my TaylorMade fitting and I couldn’t remember enough to compare properly. I’d like to blame age but muscle memory, that sort of thing, has never been my forte.  An athletically gifted friend once told me that I lacked “kinaesthetic sense”.  I looked it up in my trusty Chambers dictionary (my spelling was better than my movement and muscle control) and decided he was right.

Before I go any further, let me stress that this blog doesn’t go in for product placement and doesn’t make millions from endorsements – in fact, doesn’t make anything at all, from endorsements or anything else; it’s a labour of love…The wee picture at the top of this piece (fingers crossed because technical glitches have occurred in the past) is called the featured image and this week it features my new clubs, neatly ensconced in their pristine headcovers.

I picked them up from the pro’s shop last Friday, on my way to the 1st tee and chucked my old “woods”, G5s of Dai’s, in to the boot of the car with a lack of sentimentality that would have warmed the heart of Cruella de Vil.  Well, no point in saving the new weapons for a special occasion; these days every round is special, a real treat; who knows when the next lockdown might be sprung upon us?

I hit a decent drive down the 1st, a bit of a miracle considering the poor excuse of a warm-up (a couple of creaky swings with a couple of irons clamped together) and decided on the rescue, 26 degrees of loft, protective plastic packaging still on the face and head.  The ball ended up in the left-hand bunker guarding the green but I stood in the fairway going, “Wow, wow, wow.  What was that?!!”

The old rescue (left) beside its more modern counterpart, a revelation.

Several decades of technology, that was what, as it turned out.

At the 2nd, a par 3 where I usually finagle some sort of effort with my driver, I took the new 5-wood, 17.5 degrees, packaging removed and my jaw dropped as I launched something approaching a golf shot onto the green, 18 feet from the pin.  Still in shock, I three-putted but I was converted.  I was – am – an evangelist for club-fitting and upgrading the antique sticks.

“How much is it?” one of my partners, an ever-practical Scot, asked.

“Dunno,” I said, “but I’m hoping it starts with a 1…”

Some hope.

The price was still on the shaft and it started with a 2, closely followed by two 9s….

Ah.  Well, it is at least 20 years since I bought a new set of clubs and I suppose prices have to keep up with the technology.  And the shots I hit in the course of nine holes were worth every penny.  It was, heaven help me, exciting!

Old and new in a garden setting! Even I can tell the difference.

Even the mishit shots went well enough, as you’d expect nowadays with clubs that are designed to be forgiving.  Dai used to call them TYKs – Thank You Karsten(s) – after the late Karsten Solheim, inventor and founder of Ping, pioneer of perimeter weighting, the patron saint of the less-than-perfect ball striker.

A photo from an Open long ago (could probably date it from the top I’m wearing).  Doubt I’m telling Karsten anything he doesn’t know!

The new clubs didn’t get an outing on Tuesday because my playing partners and I took one look at the weather and decided we’d more than paid our dues over the years and didn’t need to venture out in rain that showed every sign of maturing rapidly  from wetting to soaking.  Wimps, some might say but we were wise wimps – it was foul.  Congrats and kudos to those who played and persevered to the end.

I’ll keep you posted with my progress (sorry!) and am really looking forward to the arrival of my new irons – round about Christmas I’m told, if I’m lucky but at least that’ll give me time to save up the wherewithal.  It really will be like being a kid again, all excited to see what Santa’s brought.

Let’s hope the novelty never wears off….