Editor’s note: Though the following was written in January 2017, it seems appropriate to again share at this time as most of us are still shut up at home. MacDuff is an occasional contributor to GHS pages and we thought his take on the promises of bright new golfing technologies worthy of revisiting. Most of us receive or have read such magazines and are quite familiar with all the latest new golf gadgetry, clothes, clubs and balls pitched by the ad man. We hope that you, too, may suffer nothing more alarming than a spring cold this year. Stay safe.
It being the middle of January in the upper Midwest, naturally I claimed the full measure of a robust cold virus. During two full days, I was the prisoner of this tiny jailer, in touch with civilization by the device of a small bell that mercifully summoned an angelic and patient friend. On one such errand, bringing a cup of hot tea, she laid on the bed one of the latest golfing periodicals. “I thought you might like this,” she said.
After she left and I was sipping the tea (doped, I think, with some sort of drowse-inducing medicinals), I slipped, heavy-lidded, through the pages of this gift, hoping for harmless and amusing distraction.
I thought I was satisfied with myself as a golfer, enjoying the renascent sport we call modern hickory golf. I presumed I was happy. I was wrong.
From this glossy embrasure of all things golf, I realized that my misapprehension of competency was staggering.
To begin with, the entire book was filled with images of beautiful days, sunny, bright, and dazzling with potential. It seems there is never a dull day, or rainy, in this magnificent printed universe. Bright, so bright.
Instruction began with the TaylorMade M Series, irons I was assured would “Better Everything.” I have always hoped to do better, so this made an impression. Not to be outdone, Callaway clubs promised Epic Speed with new “Jailbreak Technology.” As I am nearly always in some kind of jail when playing golf, I found the potential for quick freedom particularly seducing.
Contemplating a future game slick with speedy get-out-jail clubs, I peeked farther behind the veil where I found the contemporary champion Dustin Johnson explaining how I could “bust it every time,” if I would merely employ his techniques. Never mind that he is years young and has muscle and sinew where I do not. Still, if there is anyone who knows how to “bust it,” it is he. I imagined myself on the tee at the club, busting it in front of the admiring wives and envious husbands.
Not to be outdone, young pro Jonathan Vegas reinforced this notion ob busting by urging me to “go deep” and “launch” the ball. It will be done, Jonathan. Busting and launching will transform my game.
These editors and writers and golf professionals know me so well, I thought as I studied further. They have been informed all about my insidious predilections for not launching, or busting, for that matter.
It was a sunny day on the putting green in later pages. A handsome and tanned young professional said if only I would count a three-syllable pace on my putts and focus on the process, not the outcome, I would attain Putting Perfection. It was a Vedic-like instruction that put me in mind of meditating yogis.
Of course, such perfection would be easier with Skechers GoGolf Pro 2 shoes, white with blue trim, and a snappy red shirt sporting logos for Workday and Bridgestone. This is the stuff of perfect golf. The shoes, by the way, are lightweight for stability and comfort, things of which I am in favor, if not generally familiar, like perfection.
Before I could count to three, however, I was reminded that I am an abysmal bunker player. Tom Watson was there with comfort. He said I should let my hands roll in order to get the ball to the hole. Not one to disagree with this famous player, I shall indeed roll my hands, as I really would like to get the ball to the hole from the bunker.
Jack Nicklaus, nodding wisely at Tom, had more to say on this bunker stuff. Never fear, he said. Bunkers are good buddies if they staunch the wild flight of a slice. Good old Jack and Tom. The best.
Butch Harmon was not so gentle. Quit chunking your irons, he told me, bluntly. (How do they know this stuff about me?) Just shift your weight forward and don’t stop turning… that is the key, for god’s sake, don’t stop turning. I promised I would not and quickly turned the page.
Perhaps it was the tea, or the many anti-cold drugs, but I felt a hallucinatory calm pervade the old bean. I knew it must be a sunny day, for there I was, practicing short-game improvements with Dave Stockton – putts, grip, bunker swing, chip shots – all the important stuff to improve my confidence. Stockton is not one to settle for just one tip when several will do to buck up the flagging confidence.
The stench of inadequacy still strong about my person, another brave teacher had a go. In this lesson he informed I should chip the ball, “old school,” a lost art that will save me strokes. “It is as simple as it gets,” he said, following a rather lengthy explanation of this immeasurable simplicity. Still, I do like to save strokes and may enroll in the old school.
I lay back on my damp pillow, feverish dreams playing about inside the skull. There I was in Arizona looking tanned and fit, on palm-lined fairways in Florida, in Alabama on the RTJ trail, on Hilton Head Island, cavorting in cool Arnold Palmer apparel (net profits to charity) at swank Georgia golfing resorts. Sunny days, all.
I was pleased that in my bag during this sojourn were the very best selections from the top golf club makers. I could select from such clubs as the EX-10, the Triton, the GBB Epic, the Prime, the Tour B XD, the TW737, the King F7, and the M1. Truly, mine was an alphabet soup of high-tech promises. Under the giddy sway of the cold remedies I could not tell whether I was at a PGA show or an arms convention. When I am well, I shall seek a Callaway Great Big Bertha driver (9.5 degrees) and its necessary ancillary, the Mitsubishi Diamana S+2 70x 45-inch shaft. I grow insufficient in golf by the minute, though soon all will be put right.
All that had gone before, I soon learned, will be for naught unless I possess a rangefinder device that reduces vibration for a steady target image and a laser beam for rock-solid measurements. So armed, perhaps I would be a match for Brooke Henderson, who is possibly Canada’s best golfer ever, so I the headline read. “Canadians are very nice,” she said, while wearing stylish grey Skechers, no doubt for balance and stability, things she would know about as a former member of the Canadian national girls junior hockey team. So I read.
While going round with Brooke, I would be sure to sport a hybrid cardigan from Fairway and Green in lavender, but could fall back on the RLX Ralph Lauren shirt and pants, or the Nike Aeroloft hyper adapt hybrid jacket. These items are now essential, I was assured, as was a must-have internal smart phone pocket. Must I? Oh, I suppose. But only if there were watches upon mine wrist that would vibrate to alert me to an incoming call, track my heart rate, monitor my swing, measure yardages. Such watch must also be impervious to scratches, monitor my grip position, and impact angle and, for good measure, keep track of foursome scores, skins, nassaus and match play, too. For a small extra fee, they will tell the time, so I will not be late to the tee, my heart racing.
At the last was good news, for I was nearly spent and about to give up the game completely, my inadequacy as a golfer come full circle. The USGA, it seems, under new rules has delivered us from the egregious sin of an accidentally moved ball on the green. All hope has returned. A game reborn will rise from this beneficent ruling and a multitude of bygone sins receive absolution in this one brilliant stroke.
Is that the sun? Oh, my good friend, do draw back the heavy curtains and let me embrace the new day.
(Thank you, E.B.)