Tag Archives: CB 710s

A BONUS FALL ROUND at WHISKEY CREEK

Whiskey Creek
October 8, 2011

I did not play golf during the month of September.  And whether my body was under the impression that I wasn’t going to play again until next spring, or my clubs thought their first trip back to the closet in months meant the season was over, the first nine holes at Whiskey Creek were the season’s worst.

I’m standing in the middle of No. 1 fairway, staring down a pin 130 yards away.  I take a nice and easy swing, make great contact, and, as I often do on my first few shots of the day, exaggerate my keeping-my-head-down-through-contact thought.  As I finally glance upward and pose with my 9 iron I expect to see the ball sailing toward the green perhaps a few feet left of the pin.  Instead I see nothing.  I frantically scan the skies, greatly expanding my range of possible ball flights.  After the hang time clock goes off in my head I stare directly at the pin hoping to see the ball land somewhere within my peripheral vision.

Nothing.  The ball vanished.  I would have asked BJ if he saw it, but he was busy searching for his own ball in the hazard.  Around the green there are three traps: one short and left, another deep behind the left side of the green, and a third beside the green on the right.  The rough is thick and beyond the traps is tall fescue.  I’m not going to find this ball.

Looking back I see the group behind us is already driving to their tee shots so I can’t go back to the fairway to take a proper drop.  BJ makes his way to the cart and tosses me a new ball, which I drop about 10 feet off the left side of the green.  As I take a few half-hearted practice swings I can’t help but wonder where the heck my ball went.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a ball completely disappear from view – at least on a hole with this much open space.

The pin is on the front right portion of the green about 45 feet away from me.  The green slopes front to back near the pin, which means the ball will roll right to left off my chip.  I take one last look and chip the ball 15 feet onto the green.  It bounces twice and after one beautiful, slow arc around the front edge of the green, the ball hits the pin and drops in the hole.

BJ laughs and congratulates me on my lucky shot.  I stammer over to the hole to retrieve my ball and remove the pin for his putt.  BJ is laying 4 after hitting his first shot into the hazard, re-teeing – even though he didn’t have to and I implored him to observe the red stakes all around the right side of the hole – hitting his third almost to the same spot but just clear of the hazard, then striking an impressive blind shot to the green about 35 feet from the hole.

Waiting for him to putt, I’m still perplexed over my lost ball and scanning the area for it.  BJ settles in behind the ball and gives it a whack.  His putt never leaves the cup and drops for 5.

Our day begins with two awful bogeys that easily could have been worse.  (My “bogey” was an illegal one with the drop, so indeed it was worse.)

And don’t worry because it took all of 4 minutes to officially get worse.  A tee shot into the left fairway trap leads to a double-bogey on No. 2.  A three-putt from a million feet on No. 3 adds a bogey.  Another drive into a fairway bunker on No. 4, followed by a poor recovery out of the trap, and then a possible shank through the trees onto the edge of No. 8 tee helps me rack up another double.

Hole No. 5 has one of the prettiest tee shots in the area as it looks out over a very steep drop to the fairway below with the mountains of Maryland off in the distance.  But I didn’t see any of it because I hook a hybrid into a trap on the left side of the fairway on a hole that makes almost a 90 degree turn to the left from the tee.  A stroke to get out of the bunker, one to get to the fairway, another to get to the green, a two-putt, a double-bogey.  All this on a 371-yard par 4 that finishes at least 60 feet below where it begins.

No. 5.
This pretty view was quickly ruined.

 

That’s when it occurs to me that I’m in danger of not breaking 50.  I think all golfers have a number in mind when the wheels are coming off and the number of holes left – whether it’s the full 18 or just 9 – is shrinking fast, and you’re making the calculations in your head on whether you even have a prayer of staying under that number.  “Well if I par out from here, I can maybe shoot 46.”  But of course if you are already eight over after five holes, the chances of you suddenly “turning it on” and making four straight pars are extremely remote.

Walking to No. 6 tee, I wasn’t sure I could hit the broadside of a barn.  I hit a decent 3 wood to the left side of the fairway but still have 130 yards up the hill to the green.  Having zero confidence left, I purposely over-club to make sure I get it to the green over the giant bunker in front.  The 8 iron leaves me on the back fringe with a quick downhill 40 foot putt to the front left pin placement.  Three putts later I am nine over.

A bogey on No. 7 and a three-putt double on No. 8.  For the first time in 15 years (except for that February 2008 round I decided to keep off the books and had my group swear to never speak of again) I was in danger of posting a Jack Lord.

At this point I should probably mention that play has been painfully slow all morning.  We’re waiting on every shot and it seems to be getting worse each hole.  It’s a slow burn watching each player in the group in front of you casually saunter up to a ball, take three practice swings, hover over the ball for several seconds, hit the shot, make several comments to the group about said shot, not replace the divot, watch his buddies hit their shots, make several comments about those shots, then, finally, all in unison walk to the other side of the hole where their carts are parked.  The carts advance 100 yards and the routine begins again.  Repeat, lather, rinse.

This scene appears to be wrapping up after almost ten minutes of leaning on our drivers on No. 9 tee.  BJ tees it up and gets ready to hit.  Out of the corner of my eye I see one of the gentlemen from the group in front of us driving his cart directly toward us and in front of the tee.  Oblivious to BJ’s addressing of the ball and the twosome teeing off No. 18, he blurts out, “You all see a 5 iron back there?”  We did not and replied accordingly.  He rolls past us and disappears over the hill behind the eighth green to continue his quest.

Twelve minutes later I bogey the par 5 for a 49.

The last time I played Whiskey Creek was in April, and it was my first round with the new irons (Titleist CBs).  I missed one fairway on the front and was upset with a 41.

So at the turn BJ treats me to a turkey sandwich and himself to a chicken salad sandwich.  He loves Whiskey Creek’s chicken salad sandwich and talks about it even when we’re playing other courses.  Plus, BJ quietly put together a smooth 41 on the front while I was hacking it all over the place, and the man deserves something special.  Let him eat his favorite sandwich.

When we get to No. 10 tee, 2/3 of the group in front of us is still waiting for Mr. 5 iron to return with a full bag of clubs.  A few moments of awkward silence pass as BJ and I silently eat our sandwiches and stare at the two men milling about their cart.  The one near the passenger side reluctantly says, “So…why don’t you guys go ahead?”

(Youbetyourass…)  “Oh, yeah, sure, if that’s okay with you guys,” we reply.  “We’ll try not to hold you up!  Ha, ha.”  (As if that will be a problem.)

I hop out of the cart with my Diablo in-hand and tee it up before they decide to take back their offer.  No. 10 is a par 4, dogleg left up the hill, with a tee shot over marsh and other assorted unpleasant things.  Hoping to quickly put the front nine behind me I rip a drive up the middle of the fairway.  BJ manages three more enormous bites of his sandwich before ripping his own drive.  It’s left and close to the hazard, but I assure him he’s fine.  Off we go.  And not a moment too soon because Mr. 5 iron arrives on the tee before we get past the ball washer.  Oh well, see ya!

On the right side of the fairway I’m left with just under 120 yards to a front right pin placement over a green-side bunker.  I hit an absolutely flush pitching wedge straight at it and watch as it disappears over the lip of the bunker.  I’m left with a 15-footer down the slope, which I leave a few inches short.  Tap in for my first par of the day.  (!)

No. 11 might be Whiskey’s signature hole.  A 173-yard par 3, over marsh and death on the right, to a long narrow green that is slanted diagonally from left-to-right away from the tee.  Tall trees stand all along the left of the hole on a hill, while one giant bunker guards the right side of the green.  That is why I (unintentionally) lay up with my 6 iron to the left front fringe.  A chip, two putts, a bogey.

Then I turn it on.  A perfect drive to the middle of No. 12 fairway, a 3 iron a few yards off line to the right of the green, a chip, and a putt for par.  After lengthy waits on 13 and 14, behind the new threesome ahead of us, I add two more pars.  One over after five holes on the back.

Off and on over the past several holes, BJ and I have been discussing – and mocking – the idiocy of someone who cannot remember where he left his 5 iron.  One would think that after going over the last few holes in your head you would say, “Oh right, I took two clubs to the tee on No. 7 but used my 6 iron instead.  My 5 is probably still laying there.”  Ha ha, what a dumbass.

We hit our approach shots on the fifteenth, a 191-yard par 3, all over water, with a bunker just shy of the green.  BJ plants his ball in the sand, and I end up on the right edge in the rough.  We pull the cart up to the green, get out, and reach into our bags for our sand wedges.  Together we say, “Oh s—.”

Yup, we left our Vokeys resting side by side in the grass next to the thirteenth green.  (See?!  It shouldn’t take long to figure it out!)  Fortunately, the next hole loops around and will take us right back to No. 13 green.  Unfortunately, the very first group we’ll need to approach to ask if they have our clubs is Mr. 5 iron and his friends.

I suppose we deserve that.

It’s embarrassing to ask group after group if they’ve found two sand wedges.  One is bad enough, but asking for two lost clubs is downright humiliating.  One gentleman replied, “Two sandwiches?!  No, man, I would have remembered that.”

With my trusty Vokey safely returned to my bag, I par 16, bogey 17, and par 18 for a three-over 39 on the back and an 88 overall.  I haven’t a clue what transpired between the ninth green and the tenth tee – other than the rapid consumption of a delicious turkey sandwich – that led me in the wake of a 49 to hit six of the next seven fairways, five greens, and zero three-putts.  But it somehow feels good.

Unfortunately for BJ the temporary loss of his club on No. 15 clearly rattled him as he stumbled home with two doubles and a triple to also shoot 88.  I think it’s safe to assume this is our last loop of the 2011 season…

No. 18.
Goodbye, 2011 golf season.

 

 

Tagged , , , 1 Comment

FIRST ROUND OF THE FUTURE

Editor’s Note: This is my third post from last season (2011). I’ll be posting some fresh rounds from 2o12 soon…

Whiskey Creek
May 21, 2011

They arrived in my office five days ago.

I had been waiting anxiously for nine days since the fitting took place. I was even practicing my reaction to their arrival like I had been nominated for an Academy Award. Do I shake the delivery man’s hand? Should I film him taking them off the truck? If they arrive while I’m at my desk and one of my coworkers kindly drops them off for me, should I be wearing glasses so that I can whip them off dramatically? Which one should I unwrap first to show to my colleagues? Will they care? (Nope.) This is what I spent my time thinking about and preparing for while at work all day every day.

Instead, I returned from a lame late morning meeting downtown to find a box unceremoniously leaning against the wall in my office across from my desk, as if the contents were as exciting as the disposable razors I get from Amazon every two months. Unbelievably this was the one situation for which I was ill prepared. I have no idea why I assumed I’d be present when the moment arrived. But I wasn’t, and, well, it was supposed to be more dramatic than this dammit!

Can you guess which of these things is new?

 

I stood there stunned, staring at the box. Say something. Go talk to them. I closed my office door behind me – possibly mid conversation with a coworker, I can’t remember. I very carefully pulled the box away from the wall and placed it on the floor. After some frantic searching for something sharp to tear through the multiple layers of packaging tape (normally I’d be frustrated, but I grinned in appreciation that Titleist cared as much for my new clubs as I did) I unsealed the edges and slowly opened the top. One white sheet of paper covered the contents from end to end and separated the top four clubs from the bottom four. Each head was shrink-wrapped in plastic and covered in bubble wrap. The smell of the rubber grips was intoxicating. In a good way.

Too bad Titleist doesn’t also throw a small chunk of dry ice into the box to give off a Raiders of the Lost Ark feel. Right before their faces melt off and their heads explode, of course.

You can keep your eyes open, Marion.

 

I take out the 8 iron, remove the bubble wrap, and carefully peel away the thin layer of protective plastic around the club head. It is the most beautiful 8 iron these eyes have ever seen, without a single scratch or scuff mark visible, and it looks like it may have been buffed before packaging! The grip feels impossibly dry, not yet spoiled by the oils of a golfer’s hands during a typical day at the course. The only thing I can think of is that it feels like a fresh stick of gum right out of the wrapper. I give the whole club a once-over, take my stance in the small area next to my desk, tuck my necktie into my shirt after it interferes with my grip, and take one slow practice swing without knocking any pictures off the wall.

Man, does this club feel…right.

But I’m at work, so back in the box it goes. I immediately email Mike and BJ to tell them the New Era has arrived and that we must make a tee time for the weekend. Whiskey Creek at 10:36am it is. It’s going to be a long 93 hours, 52 minutes, and 17 seconds……..

Although Whiskey is a haul for us and we often don’t get out there with time to spare before teeing off, BJ and Mike are good guys and thus are more than happy to get up a little earlier on a Saturday morning so that I can have some quality time at the range with my new babies. I’m getting choked up just thinking about what top men they are. Top. Men.

The range is on the far side of the clubhouse from where you check in, next to the ninth hole and above the tenth tee. We make our way over there, after acquiring our carts, and park near the row of tee markers on the other side of the wide cart path. The path is a good five feet below the tees, and most golfers grab only a handful of clubs to take across the cart path and up the embankment. I grab my PW, 8, 6, 4, and 3 and head up to the tee. Directly behind each range slot sits a metal rack on which to lean your clubs. I place each club down like it’s made of ceramic and can see, out of the corner of my eye, BJ and Mike watching me do this with amusement.

I do some stretching, and then remember that I’ll need my sand wedge to start off my warm ups. As I start down the hill toward the cart, I hear the faint sound of metal scraping against metal behind me. I turn around to see all five of my brand new clubs sliding off the right side of the rack. In the same way that one out of every three Miami Vice episodes ended with Crockett running after someone in slow motion shouting “NO!” I lunged toward my clubs and only managed to get out a “WHAnaahhhhh!” Not only did the clubs fall off the rack and into the grass, but the rack itself fell over and landed on top of them.

No damage was caused by the defective rack, but the frozen reactions of my two friends a few feet away were priceless. BJ was in mid-swing with a wide-eyed look of horror, whereas Mike made the half-assed but much appreciated “I will make a few token steps toward the clubs to show that I care but I really have no chance of getting there in time” move. I force out a laugh, quietly pick up my clubs and the rack, and go on preparing for my First Round of the Future.

Trying to lower my expectations right out of the gate I focus on simply getting a good feel for the new clubs. Not only is the weight different, but the grips are new for me as well. For at least 10 years my DCIs had cord grips, or ones with thin threads of rope running throughout the rubber. They were great for traction – and ripping gloves to shreds – but this time around I went with some classic no frills grips.

Even the grips deserve a close-up.

 

After hitting no more than twenty balls, I decide that it’s time to get this party started.

The tee shot on the first hole at Whiskey Creek is uphill to a wide open fairway before it doglegs right around two big bunkers and a hazard all along the lower right. The bunkers can easily be flown, but as the hole is only 381 yards, it comes down to how much of a risk you want to take on your first shot of the day. Not much if you ask me, so I aim for the first large bunker on the upper left side of the hole and find the middle of the fairway with my trusty Diablo. Mike follows suit, while BJ shows us both up by selecting a 3 iron AND flying it over the bunker into the fairway. I guess that’s how we’re going to play it today.

I walk off my ball to 136 yards from the pin in the middle left portion of the green. There is a large bunker on the left about 15 yards short of the green, and its placement throws off your depth perception enough to make you think the green is closer. I grab my 9 iron and take a few practice swings. A goofy smile creeps onto my face in anticipation of hitting my first official shot with the Titleist CB 710s. One more glance at the pin, one more waggle, one tiny forward press, and the swing begins. Perfect contact is made and the ball is airborne. Four seconds later the ball is bouncing on the green and rolling to within 20 feet of the cup.

Damn. That was awesome.

All three of us find the green and two-putt for pars. We have come to play today.

No. 2 is a great hole, even shorter than the opener at 363 yards, but all uphill to a narrow and severely back-to-front sloped green. The fairway runs off the hill from right-to-left and into two big bunkers near the landing area. My drive safely hits the middle of the fairway where I’m left with another 135-ish approach shot. I judge it to be one extra club and hit the 8 iron, but I catch too much turf and the ball lands short and right of the green in the thick rough. A chip, two putts, and a dumb bogey.

Now the one thing I assumed, whether it was warranted or not, is that with a brand new set of clubs I would instantly hit every iron farther and straighter. This is a given, right? Well, the key word there is instantly, and I should have known better before choosing a 6 iron on the tee of the 169-yard par 3. Overconfidence this early in the round is silly but that is my reason for aiming directly at the pin on the back right corner, behind a bunker, and at least another 10 yards past the posted yardage. Last week I would have hit a 4 iron, but today with my “magic clubs” I will hit a 6. (It might also have something to do with BJ going before me and hitting an 8!)

My ball landed so short that it didn’t even smell the bunker. In fact it kicked hard left into a giant collection area on the left front side of the green. Terrible. And then I three-putt for a double-bogey five.

This is quickly followed by another three-putt on the long par 5 fourth and a routine par on No. 5. And before I can get too worried about my new investment, I stick a perfect PW from the far left side of the fairway to 7 feet on the par 4 sixth hole. I drop the putt for birdie, and walk to the next tee with a 1-up lead on Mike and only a 1-hole deficit to BJ in our respective matches.

No. 7 is a 134-yard par 3 with a heart-shaped green guarded in the front by two bunkers, the left one being very large and welcoming. The pin is way up front today in the little neck of the green, and we all judge the distance to be 120 at the most. Though this is the tiniest part of the green with little room for error on either side, I’m salivating at the prospect of hunting down another flag with my dialed-in PW. Sure enough I hit one right at the pin, but it ends up skidding up the slope about 15 feet. Not great, but I’ll have another run at birdie. Mike hits a nearly identical PW to just inside my ball, and BJ flies the green with his. He hasn’t quite mastered the ¾ swing this early in the season.

My birdie putt is downhill all the way, perhaps as much as a foot, and breaks slightly left. I barely tap it and watch as it barely gets half way home. I shake it off by making some comment to Mike about not wanting to give him a read, and throw a mark behind my ball. Wow, was that bad. Mike’s attempt is not much better as he misses long and left, but he taps in for par and gets out of my way. After some self doubt, and the sudden realization that the group behind us is waiting on the tee, I aim for the back of the cup and drill it home for par.

Still 1-up on Mike, and now even with BJ after his bogey.

The eighth hole is another relatively short par 4 at 359 yards. It has a generous fairway to hit off the tee to the right, but there is a giant bunker on the left near the landing area that creates a dogleg left feel, and OB all along the left side that you can’t help but notice as you address your ball. Driver is not absolutely necessary here and you can aim as far right as you wish, but a hill on the right side of the hole takes away a clear view of the green and hides the large bunker guarding its front side. Oh yes, and the green is narrow and long shots will find another bunker off the back. Good times.

I start by missing my first fairway of the day to the right and into the trees. I hit a great punch shot around the base of a tree, but find the front edge of the greenside bunker. It takes me two to get out and two to get home. Double-bogey 6. Mike makes a routine and underrated par and BJ makes a 7, taking one more shot than me to get out of the same bunker.

It took us quite some time to rake that sucker after five total shots.

Mike and I par No. 9 to tie with 41s. BJ did not have the best of front nines – his two triples sealed the deal – and he finishes with a 47. I’m very pleased with how I’m hitting the new CBs, so pleased in fact that I’m rather upset with my 5-over 41. Two bogies and a birdie were ruined by doubles on Nos. 3 and 8. Unacceptable.

This is a rather poorly framed shot of the par 5 ninth.

 

The back nine begins with a great up-and-down to save par on No. 10 and a pretty 6 iron to the middle of the green on the par 3 eleventh that leads to a two-putt par. No. 12 is a par 4, 413 yards in length, and is cut into three parts. The tee shot must carry a deep ravine to a wide open fairway, which covers the top of a rolling hill. Missing the fairway right will only hurt the yardage on your second shot, whereas missing left will likely kick hard off the hill and into the well-manicured yard of a very nice home. From there the fairway heads down and to the left into another ravine, across from which lies the narrow, two-tiered green cut into the side of the next hill and guarded by two front bunkers. Sometimes I feel relieved leaving this hole with a bogey.

Like today.

The next hole is also a par 4, a dogleg right, and steadily uphill the whole way. There is a strong right-to-left tilt to the hole when you look at it from the tee, with one fairway bunker near the landing area on the left and lots of tall weeds on the right. For some reason I never line up correctly on this hole and I hit a line drive into the wasteland on the right. BJ’s eagle eyes help me locate the ball, and all I can do is hack it out with an 8 iron to the middle of the fairway. With 142 yards left, and my 8 iron still out of the bag, I hit one of the prettiest iron shots in years to 5 feet from the pin on the back left corner.

This nice par save puts me 2-up on the back in both my matches. And I don’t intend to give them back.

I think the par 4 fourteenth hole at Whiskey is my favorite. No matter how well you think you’re playing, you still approach this tee shot with fear. The fairway is far below the tee boxes and runs between a pond on the left and a tiny strip of rough on the right that is covered in pine trees. There is no bailout off this tee, unless you push it wildly into the sixteenth fairway. The hole is dead straight and ends with a green that juts out ever so slightly over the edge of the water on the left.

Despite missing the fairway on the previous hole, I’m feeling confident in the Diablo. I aim toward the right edge of the fairway, take a deliberately slow backswing, and connect on a solid drive that starts out toward the right cart path and draws back into the middle of the fairway. Take that, Mike.

Oh he does, and hits an even prettier drive a few steps left of my ball and maybe 5 yards farther. Maybe. BJ also hits the fairway…on the sixteenth hole. Once he makes a stellar recovery shot back onto our hole – while under fire from the group playing the par 5 – it is my turn to put the pressure on Mike. The pin is on the left portion of the wide green that is split by a ridge down the middle. It is not necessary to carry the water to reach the flagstick, but water is certainly close enough to cause problems with an errant shot. The yardage is 147. I decide not to flirt with the pond and instead aim at the small trap on the back edge. The 8 iron is once again called upon to get the job done and it doesn’t disappoint. A perfectly struck ball never leaves my line to that trap and bounces up onto the middle of the green, leaving me with no more than 20 feet for birdie.

No buyer’s remorse with these babies. At least not with my 8.

Mike wastes no time stepping up to his ball (the man epitomizes “ready golf”), also choosing an 8 iron, and also sticking his approach shot in the middle of the green. Hot with a little more draw than mine, his ball rolls to within 8 feet. Mike sinks this uphill putt for birdie after my two-putt par, and the match is now officially a barnburner.

The fifteenth is a par 3 and, at 191 yards, it is long enough to have a fairway that wraps around the left edge of a pond. The green runs diagonally from left to right away from the tee and is guarded by three bunkers – one long, and two wedged between the green and the water. You can miss the green to the right but it has to be pretty long to avoid wetness. Mike quickly discovers this when he pushes his tee shot way right and into the tall grass, clearing the pond by about 18 inches.

The tees are up today and the pin is smack dab in the middle of the green. Trying to erase the vision of someone hitting a push, I favor the left side of the green, the meaty part, and hit a dead straight 5 iron to about 25 feet. This sets up a perfectly acceptable two-putt par, as Mike is forced to take an unplayable and a bogey.

Back to 2-up on Mike. And after his textbook par, I’m dormie on BJ.

No. 16 is the first par 5 on the back nine, and rifle straight. The entire hole has a left-to-right tilt to it, as the final 150 yards or so head straight uphill to an isolated green, with three deep bunkers bridging the gap between the end of the fairway and the putting surface. There are fairway bunkers on either side of the landing area, and a pair of big-arse, overhanging trees on the left about 90 yards apart. My drive misses the fairway right, Mike’s misses left, and BJ’s splits the difference by bounding up the middle of the short stuff.

For the first time all day – indeed ever – I pull out the hybrid. When hybrids were all the rage just a few years ago I rolled my eyes at the Next Big Thing. “I don’t even bother with long irons anymore.” “They’re amazing.” “I can hit it out of five feet of rough.” “Hybrids have given me a new lease on life.” Spare me. “They’re probably illegal.” Yup, they probably are.

Two weeks ago when I visited my former boss and high school golf coach to get fitted for new clubs, the very first thing he tried to sell me on was hybrids. I hadn’t seen him in 10 years and he immediately questioned my sanity.

“Hey, John. Great to see you.”

“You too. So you want to get fitted for new irons.”

“I do, yes.”

“Are you thinking pitching wedge through 5 iron?”

“Uh no, I’d like a full set. Pitching wedge through 3.”

“Well how many hybrids do you want?”

“Zero.”

“So let me get this straight: nearly every touring pro has at least one hybrid in the bag, most have several, but you know better than those who make a living playing the game. You don’t want to play your very best. Is that what you’re telling me?”

“Ah, just like the old days, coach.”

I held firm on getting my full set of irons. I don’t care how much the game has changed. I like the challenge of hitting a long iron, and the satisfaction I receive when one is struck well is something I am unwilling to give up. If that makes me the John Cleese character from the old Titleist NXT commercials, so be it. That’s golf. But I did allow him to talk me into replacing my 5 wood with an equivalent hybrid. I reasoned that if I didn’t like the hybrid, I could easily trade it in for a more traditional 5 wood. That’s a little less commitment to something I don’t yet trust than mixing and mashing a set of irons in a way that would probably be a nightmare to complete later on.

So…finally, reluctantly, I stand over a shot in the rough with my brand new Titleist 910H, fully prepared to be disappointed. I waggle a few times, carefully rest the club behind the ball, and swing away. The club head slices right through the tall grass like a blowtorch through butter, and the ball pops off the face with one of the prettiest sounds I have ever heard. With little-to-no effort my ball is rocketing down the middle of the fairway as I stand there like Hogan at Merion.

Holy ****.

I look over at BJ and Mike. Both have looks that say, “Welcome to the party, pal.” The ball comes to rest near the end of the fairway halfway up the hill, which is likely 215 yards away. That is quite a knock for the amount of effort exerted on that swing. Hmm.

Enlarged to show texture.

 

BJ was still walking off his ball – more than 40 yards past mine and Mike’s – and I offered to let him hit the magic club. He declined at first but then realized that his clubs were all the way down the hill where he left his cart. So he said okay, and moments later launched his ball well past the edge of the fairway to only a few feet short of the green. “Wow,” he said.

“Wow.”

With 55 yards left to the back right pin placement, there is no reason not to get this close. Except for the elevation change and a flagstick that is not visible from my location. So a good guess on how hard to swing helps me set up a four-foot birdie putt, which I drop in the heart of the cup.

I may keep the hybrid for now.

The birdie four ends both of my matches as BJ’s incredible second shot is followed by his first “two chip” of the season, and Mike’s errant tee shot leads to a dismal double-bogey. With both matches in hand, I stupidly bogey Nos. 17 and 18 to finish with a 79.

For the first time in 15 years my bag did not have a set of DCIs poking out of the top, and whether it was beginner’s luck or the sign of things to come, I managed to break 80. And honestly I think I could have played even better. That’s not a bad way to break in a new set of sticks. This summer is going to be awesome.

Oddly enough, it was the oldest club in my bag that made the biggest impact. I had 18 putts on the front and 13 on the back. And THAT is why the Ping Anser 3 will never – repeat, never – be replaced.

Key stats:

  • 10 out of 14 fairways
  • 9 greens
  • 31 putts (13 on the back)
  • Handicap Index remains at 5.4

 

Tagged , , , , , Leave a comment