Golf Equipment: Transformation from courtship to true love

Golf equipment relationships are like marriages – they begin with attraction but are sealed into true love through time and the survival of on-course challenges.

If you’ve been following this golf equipment adventure, you know that I broke my 3 wood several weeks ago. I mis-estimated the swing space between my stance and a hazard stake. The result was the tragic destruction of one of my favorite sticks.

You also know that I became impatient when the repair dragged on, waiting for delivery of a special gizmo that attaches the shaft to the club head.

I’m a short hitter and I depend on the distance I get from my 3 wood for second shots on par 5s and long par 4s, so I was badly handicapped without a working 3 wood in my bag. Additionally, I was scheduled for the annual Bethel Thanksgiving Match Play, a 36-hole event at which my son, Wes, and I challenge each other’s game and mental strength while the grandchildren pick their favorite and wager with each other.

The match this year was staged at the Kiawah Resort Osprey Point course, a new venue for Wes but not for me. I knew I needed a working 3 wood.

Osprey Point plays 4647 yards from the Carolina tees – the red, forward tees. That’s just about 300 yards more than my playing distance on my home course, The Links at Stoney Point, and I needed a working 3 wood on six holes if I had a chance of holding Wes off.

A week before Thanksgiving, when there was no sign that I’d have a restored 3 wood back from the pro shop, I went shopping. That shopping trip constituted the second chapter in this unfolding saga.

Given the limited choices I faced, I picked a Ping  GLe with a standard 19º loft. It wasn’t delivering exceptional length when I worked with it in the hitting bay but it was delivering consistent down-the-middle shots. I chose that consistency over the distance because Osprey Point punishes mis-directed second shots. There’s a fair amount of water and marsh land running alongside the fairways.

Competition: The acid test

I (correctly) assumed I’d get the distance I wanted once I got the club warmed up. I also got enough loft to clear the hazards. I can happily report only one lost ball in the entire 36 holes, and that came with a tee shot, not the new 3 wood.

The best moment came on the 36th hole, a par 5, 359-yard dogleg left. There’s marsh on the left off the tee, and there’s a big tree situated right at the turn in the dogleg. The landing area is sculpted to feed tee shots left, toward the marsh, and my ball landed perfectly, then rolled over into the challenge area.

Wes mis-hit his drive and went wide right. He was going to avoid the marsh and the tree, but he lengthened his second shot considerably.

I assessed my second shot options. I really wanted to attempt a risky shot over the marsh, which would have landed me directly in front of the green and set up a birdie opportunity. With my old 3 wood in hand, I wouldn’t have hesitated but the Ping was new. We were still in the courtship phase.

Golf Equipment and True Love

I learned long ago that when it comes to golf equipment, there’s a moment when the relationship transforms from courtship to marriage. I get a feeling of security. The club in my hand will deliver what I ask. We know each other at the most intimate of levels. I wasn’t there with this new club, even though it had been performing as I’d hoped.

Still, I know that without confidence, it’s foolish to attempt a high-risk shot, especially if you’re going into the final hole all square and your opponent is sitting wide right. (I also know the weaknesses in Wes’s game are acute inside 100 yards.)

I needed to think par, not birdie, so I lined up to go over the tree and land a bit further out. It was a calculated compromise that paid off when my new Ping GLe delivered a lovely launch. My ball soared over the tree and landed in the middle of the fairway, about 85 yards from the green.

I got on in regulation, 2-putted, and walked off with a par. Wes missed his 2nd shot right, went over the green on his 3rd shot, chipped up from the edge of the hazard on his 4th, and 2-putted for bogey.

My Ping GLe and I have moved one step closer to a marriage. My old 3-wood is back from the pro shop, but it’s sitting in the utility room and the Ping is in my bag!