I reached a watershed moment in my golfing career
over the weekend.
No, I did not make a hole-in-one.No, I did not win the club
championship.No, I did not
break 70 or even 80.I added a second hybrid to my bag.
I realize, of course, that
officially makes me an Old Fart.
It’s one thing to carry a
single hybrid; that’s not necessarily un-manly; but two hybrids is definitely Old Fart territory.
When hybrids first appeared
on the scene a few years ago, most better golfers eyed them with curiosity,
ambivalence, suspicion, even scorn.Over time, many golfers opened their minds and their wallets and
eventually took the hybrid plunge.
This was back when even
weekend hacks generally still carried 3-irons and even 2-irons.(Years ago, for a brief time, I even
carried a Ping Eye-21-iron; among golfers, nothing says
badass like a 1-iron. It’s been so
long ago I forget whether I wrapped that 1-iron around a tree or threw it in a
I finally bought my first hybrid
three or four years ago, after plenty of golfers already swore by them and
equipment companies were even coming out with entire sets of hybrid irons.My first hybrid was 19-degrees, killing two birds, or
clubs, with one stone.I got rid
of my 4-wood and my 3-iron.
Although I’ve tried a couple
different brands of hybrids since then, I have continued to be a 19-degree man, allowing me to remain loyal
to and confident in my 4-iron.
At least until about a week
or so ago, when I noticed that two or three 4-iron shots were as, well, not as crisp and solid as they might
have been.In point of fact, the
ball flew off the club like a sickly
pigeon.Didn’t sound good,
feel good or look good.
I swallowed my pride and
drove to my neighborhood big box golf chain store.Soon enough, I was running my fingers across the smooth,
metallic underbelly of a 21-degree
"Can I help you?" asked a nosey
clerk, who had clearly snuck up on me.
"No," Isaid, dropping the hybrid like a
12-year-old caught looking at Playboy.
When the nosey clerk was
gone, I fondled the 21-degree
more.Not only did it have more
loft, the shaft was shorter.I knew that meant more control.I could no more walk out of that store without that 21-degree hybrid than an addict could walk away from the front door
of a crack house.
I played my first couple of
rounds with "21" over the weekend.I love it.I hit it like a 4-iron,
then I choked it down an inch and hit it like a 5-iron and, I kid you not, choked it down even more and hit it like
But that was too much, too
far, too quick.I refuse to be one
of those stooped-over old geezer farts you see pulling a pull cart, dragging a
bag with putter, SW, PW, 9, 8, 7 and
nine variations of hybrids and woods.I will
not be that guy.
At least not for now, not
until a 23-degree hybrid catches my
Over the last few years I have changed my set mix from a "standard" setup of driver, 3 & 5 wood, 3 - PW, GW & SW to driver, 4 wood (17 deg), hybrids (19 & 24 deg), 5 - PW (47 deg), GW (52 deg), SW (56 (deg) & LW (60 deg) and have brought more consistency to my scores (i.e. more in the lower 80ís and less often blowing up into the 90ís).
So, I prefer to think of myself as getting wiser as I get older (early 50ís) and not as "getting more flatulent".
[8/10/2010 7:22:56 PM]
Joe - Itís not how, itís how many. Donít count your hybrids, count your strokes.
The Muni Golfer
[8/10/2010 9:52:43 AM]
Iíve had as many as 3 in the bag, but right now it is just 1. But, before the end of the golf, I think there will be at least 1 more to keep it company...
[8/10/2010 5:23:12 AM]
Geez...I found an old Ping 9 Ti wood/metal in my garage recently and itís now in my bag. What does that make me?
[8/9/2010 6:22:38 PM]
Iíd feel bad for you if I didnít have three hybrids.
When Pike Creek GC in Wilmington closed last week after 35 years, I
posted a news
story but I didn't properly mourn the death in the family of golf.
I hadn't played Pike Creek in years, since it was Three Little Bakers.I remember as a pleasant surprise of a
golf course – an unassuming, delicious little gem.As I noted in this positive review in
the Inquirer, there was a time when
the course did 40,000 rounds a year.Not bad.Unfortunately,
those days were long gone.
If you want to know what
killed Pike Creek, and what will
kill other courses if they don't take care of business, check out this finger-pointing eulogy from Brad
Myers in the Wilmington News-Journal.
Of the four locals in the U.S. Senior Open, only one, amateur
Mark Battista, shot himself out of
the weekend during Thursday’s first round at Sahalee CC in Seattle.
50, a former Moorestown, N.J. resident who now lives in Rancho Mirage, Calif.,
shot 21-over 91, leaving him tied for 154th, last in the field.Here
is Battista’s card and stats.
The best round by a local was
the 3-over 73 by Bill Sautter,
teaching pro at Philadelphia Cricket
Club, who is tied for for 29th.His card and stats are here.
Amateurs Chris Lange, 55, from Bryn Mawr, and Buddy Marucci, 58, from Villanova, shot
5-over 75 and 6-over 76, respectively, leaving them tied for 55th
is Lange’s card and stats; here
There are three locals to
keep an eye on in this week’s U.S. Senior Open,
four if you count a former Moorestown, N.J., resident who still returns to the
area several times a year to compete in tournaments.
Best known among the locals
is amateur Buddy Marucci, 58, from
Villanova, who captained the U.S. Walker
Cup team to victories in 2007 and in 2009 at Merion GC, his home course.A two-time Walker Cup player
himself (1995 & ’97), Marucci is
also the 2008 U.S. Senior Amateur
champion and runner-up to Tiger Woods
in the 1995 U.S. Amateur.
This is Marucci’s third U.S. Senior
Open; he missed the cut in his two previous efforts, in 2006 and 2009.
55, a real estate agent from Bryn Mawr, is a three-time Philadelphia Amateur champion, two-time Philadelphia Mid-Am champion and winner of the 2004 Philadelphia Open.
A member of Overbrook GC and
Pine Valley, Lange is playing in his
fourth U.S. Senior Open.He missed the cut in his three previous
appearances, in 2005, 2007 and 2009.
One local club pro made it
into the field: Bill Sautter, 54,
teaching pro at Philadelphia Cricket
Club, who is playing in his second U.S.
Senior Open.He missed the cut
didn’t start playing golf until he was 30, long after he was a two-time
All-America in soccer at Temple and
after he retired from a career in professional soccer.
Also in the field is amateur
Mark Battista, 50, a Moorestown
resident for eight years before moving to Rancho Mirage, Calif., in 2006.A member of the Philadelphia Publinks, he returns to the area several times a year
for PPGA events.
After three days of
recuperating from my brush with heat exhaustion, I was up and about yesterday, rarin’ to go.
I was feeling much better,
thank you, but the real motivating factor was the unexpected arrival in the mid-afternoon
of the new custom-fitted driver I ordered three weeks ago.The FedEx guy no sooner pulled away
than I was out the door and on the range, tipping over a large bucket.
In 45-plus years of golf, I’ve never had a custom-fitted driver.My putter is bent to my specs and, a
year ago, I took my irons in to have them bent to the proper lie and loft to
But drivers?No. I’ve played the field, aimlessly flitting from driver to
driver, a steady succession of off-the-rackers -- new
and used -- that worked, semi-worked, worked for a time or didn’t work at
all.I have to admit, it has been
a failed strategy.
I finally sprung for this
new driver because it came down to two choices: start hitting more fairways or
quit the game for the sake of my blood pressure and my sanity.
My problems date back to a
year or ago when, for no good reason, I suddenly couldn’t drive the golf
ball.What had always been one of
the strengths of my game and somehow become my Achilles heel.The longer it went on, the worse it got,
and my self-confidence spiraled out of control.
On the tee, I would stand
over the ball with an electrical storm going on in my head.The result: my first shot would generally
sail OB right; on the reload, I’d over-compensate and snap hook it left. Even if I could find that second ball,
I’d be lying three in the left rough, usually under a tree limb, with a long
approach shot.You can only endure
that for so long before you begin spending your evenings sitting alone in the
Desperate for a fix, I have
gone through every driver in my considerable basement stash: TaylorMade, Callaway, Titleist,
another Callaway, Cobra, my son’s Callaway, a newer Titleist.Each one had a little different
shaft, different flex, different loft, different torque, none of which were
actually fitted to me.And none solved
my tee ball problem.
Several revelations finally
convinced me to bite the bullet and spring for the $400 custom big stick.One was playing a recent round with a
golf writer pal from New York who was in town for the AT&T at Aronimink.
This is a guy who I have
seen plumb the depths of misery and self-loathing like no one else on a golf
course.On any number of occasions,
I have witnessed this man lying on a tee box, writhing in agony, often over
another wayward tee shot.And yet,
there he was a few weeks ago, pounding tee shot after tee shot down the middle
of the fairway, smiling and whistling as he went.
He showed me his new,
custom-fitted driver.Made all the
difference in the world.
My other justification was,
hey, you hit a driver 14 times during a round.Your tee shots are the foundation, the underpinning, of your
entire round.Along with the
putter, the driver is the most important club in your bag.Rather than waste time running through
more ill-fitting, off-the-rack and out-of-the-bin drivers, why not spend the
money once and for all to get one custom-fitted.
Three weeks ago, I did just
that. I went to my nearby big-box
golf outlet, found a Fitter Guy and admitted I was powerless over my
affliction."My name is Joe and I
can’t hit a fairway," I confessed.
He nodded with understanding
Soon, I was pounding tee
shots into a net, as Fitter Guy and I studied the flight paths and patterns on
the Fitter Machine screen. My last driver was a Titleist, which I liked, even if
it didn’t like me back, so I opted to find something in the Titleist family of drivers.It really is a matter of preference;
every major manufacturer has an array of shafts and heads to suit your needs.
We quickly determined that
my driver swing speed is consistently in 90-93 mph range, meaning I still just
barely need a stiff shaft.It was
also clear that my tee shots were leaking to the right.I like to think of it as a Jim Furyk
power fade, although I don’t know who I think I’m kidding. Anyway, to compensate, I needed a shaft
with a low torque.
Next, we needed to take into
consideration launch angle and backspin.I’ve hit a low ball all my life.My natural swing is also a little steep on the steep side, especially
with a driver.Fitter Guy had me
try a half-dozen or more different combinations of shafts, lofts and head compositions;
then we compared the various ball flight data to determine which was producing
the best results forme.
Answer: Titleist 909 DComp, 10.5 loft, with Matrix Xcon5 shaft.The idea was to create a club that helps me hit tee shots higher, with
less distance-robbing backspin, while also helping me control my rightward
Yesterday, the club showed
up and I could not wait to try it out. After a dozen or so 9-iron shots to
loosen up, I gingerly unsheathed my new weapon.I was a little apprehensive as I stuck the first tee in the
ground; this first shot with a new club is a lot like a first date.First impressions matter.
My initial swing was a little
tentative but I could not have been more pleased with what I saw: the ball
sailing dead-straight and higher than my usual tee shots.
I hit another, and another,
and another, and each was as good as the last.I was deep into the bucket before I hit my first truly lousy
shot, a big banana ball that could not be blamed on the club. By the time I got
to the bottom of the bucket, I was berating myself for not doing this sooner.
Today, I plan to get in a
late-afternoon round, my maiden voyage with the new lumber. I know that this
new driver is not going to solve all my problems.I will still miss fairways, I will still hit low
screamers.The game of golf will
find ways to test our budding relationship.But deep down, I will know that my new driver and I are made
for each other.
I trust you will bring it to the member/guest next weekend in Durham and blow everyone out of the water. Should I warn Cole you have a new weapon or do you want it to be a surprise?
The Muni Golfer
[7/28/2010 9:46:53 AM]
Joe, good luck with the new driver. Hope it works out weel for you. I was at the range last night also hitting balls with a new TaylorMade R9 driver. Bought it slightly used, so itís not custom-fitted, but I think with work the head and weights Iíll get it dialed in.
Ken Venturi overcomes heat exhaustion to win í64 Open
If you play golf in this heat
wave, pay attention to signs of heat exhaustion.It’s a lesson I’ve just
learned the hard way.
As I write this Sunday
morning, I am recovering from what appears to be a classic case of heat
exhaustion.I’m weak, woozy, I
have very little appetite and the leg cramps are finally beginning to subside.
In all my years playing golf
on hot summer days, mowing lawns and, years ago, working construction on steamy
days in the South, I never felt overcome by the heat like I do now.
It began on Friday, when I drove
down to the Jersey Shore for a round that afternoon, to be followed by a second
round early Saturday morning.
When I got out of the car
near Cape May at noon on Friday, I was immediately struck by how much hotter
and more humid it felt there than it had a mere 60 miles away in
Philadelphia.A wall of heat hit
me in the face, and for a moment, I questioned the wisdom of spending the next
4½ hours on the golf course.
Naturally, we teed off
anyway and in no time at all, my shirt was drenched with sweat and I was on my
second bottle of Gatorade.By the
time we finished the front nine, I was having no fun whatsoever, dreading
another 2½ hours in this soup.
It was on No. 11 or No. 12
– three hours into the round and on my third Gatorade – that I
began to notice I was feeling a little light-headed and faint as stood over tee
As we played on, it got
worse.Over the next few holes, I became
less concerned with whether my tee ball landed in the fairway than I was with
whether I could hit it without falling over.
My putting stroke- putting requires the greatest
concentration and physical exactitude -- was a joke.I couldn’t sink a straight-in 2-footer because I had no
touch, no feel; lag putts came nowhere close to the hole.
As we slogged through the
final few holes – I was gulping Gatorade No. 4 – all I could think
of was getting off the course, getting into my car and cranking up the air
conditioning to max.
Headed north on the Garden
State Parkway, the light-headedness returned a couple of times, causing me to
consider pulling over for a few minutes.I continued on, however, because I was due at dinner
with two business associates in an hour and I badly needed a shower – the
colder, the better.
I made it to the dinner but
I had no appetite, as little waves of nausea now washed over me.I nibbled around edges of my dinner and
failed miserably at holding up my end of the conversation. All I could think about was getting back
to my room and crawling into in bed.By 9 p.m., I was between the sheets, besieged by leg cramps.
The next morning, I felt
better – not great, but well enough to show up for my 7:30 a.m. tee time.
Big mistake.Even at that early hour, it was
absurdly hot and humid, and it was due to get worse as the day wore on.
I felt okay on the first
hole, and the second, but by the third, I was beginning to feel weak and woozy all
It only got worse as I
struggled to remain standing after each shot.I couldn’t have made a 10-foot putt if I was shooting at a
By the eighth hole, despite
two more bottles of Gatorade and a steady supply of cold, wet towels that had been
placed in coolers around the course, I was toast.I couldn’t hit another shot.I told my playing partners I was done for the day. I drove
the cart, swilled bottles of Gatorade and began grabbing the cold, wet towels
two at a time.
When I got home yesterday
afternoon, I laid down on the couch and soon fell into a three-hour nap.
Today, I’m still not fully
recovered.My appetite has not
returned and I’m weak.A few
minutes ago, when I made a Gatorade run to the grocery store, the
light-headedness returned for a moment.I have a greater appreciation for Ken Venturi’s victory in the 1964 U.S. Open.
I have no plans to leave the
couch or the air-conditioning for the rest of the day. I’m told it could take a
week or more before I feel 100 percent.
Itís best to load up on water or Gatorade before playing and then keep going with plenty more as you play.
I played last Friday morning at 8am just to beat the heat.
Glad to hear youíre feeling better.
[7/27/2010 8:46:13 AM]
Thanks. I am feeling better, maybe 90 percent.
Since Sunday, Iíve pretty much moved from the couch to the computer and back again, leaving the house only to buy massive quantities of Gatorade. (Grape has replaced red as my favorite).
[7/27/2010 8:01:14 AM]
Iím glad to hear your feeling better and thereís no serious effects on your health. I had a simiular experience at Twining Valley about six years ago. I was weak, nauseous and overheating. I couldnít finish the 18th. I just ran to the clubhouse and drank 3 gatorades and stayed in the air conditioning the rest of the day. This heat this Summer is nothing to mess with. If your feeling not up to playing than your body is warning you to stay out of the Sun. hydrate well befroe going out and make sure you have cold compresses and plenty of ice on hand.
The Muni Golfer
[7/26/2010 6:43:44 AM]
Glad to hear you were smart enough to abandon your second round before it got much worse. Iím also glad to hear that nothing serous happened health-wise. I hope you are feeling better today. I had a few incidents in the past couple of years, but not quite as bad as yours. One was at Wyncote. I was walking on a very humid day in June. I manged to get through 7 holes before I needed to climb into one of my playing partnerís cart. At the turn, I went in to pay for riding the back nine and the owner, who happened to be filming an Indie golf episode that day, told me not to worry about paying, he was just happy that I had the sense to stop walking and get in a cart before they had to call paramedics. The second was at The Rookery in Delaware, which you know, like Wyncote, has very little trees and shade. I got through 14 holes and just couldnít go on. I had to sit under a little tree between the 14th green and 15th tee for about 30 minutes before I was able to play the last 4 holes.