GUEST COMMENTARY
Reid Champagne 
The holes in my head
Monday, April 11, 2011
By Alan Shipnuck

The holes in my head

I rarely break 90 when I play golf. And yet, the only time I enjoy myself on the golf course is when I do. In short I have a Misery Index that’s through the roof. Which begs the question: Why do I torture myself like this?

 

It’s a good question, one my wife has also framed for herself, especially when periodically evaluating our marriage, an analysis that curiously coincides with my many tee times. But while her ruminations on the question rarely produces a cogent conclusion (for her), my answers regarding golf are quite rational: It is well within my theoretical ability to shoot respectable scores in the 80’s every time I play – provided you suspend disbelief and accept that the game I can imagine myself playing is the actual one.

 

My usual round of golf consists not of one round but three. The first is the one I actually play – the one where I generally chop my way to a 90–something. The second is the one I play on the way home from the course, where I can clearly envision that pair of sevens and the numerous sixes I carded all reduced now by just one out-of-character swing that shouldn’t have happened. (This review is accomplished in the privacy of my car, mind you. I’m not one of those boorish 19th-holers who bray, "Well, it was a 94, but it could have been a 78.")

 

But it’s the round I begin to replay at about three in the morning where my true hidden proficiencies really shine. A warm feeling of contentment suddenly replaces the night terrors that had awakened me, as I am once again on the first tee, this time sending a gentle draw rising through the atmosphere, and getting me off to the round of my life.

 

As I lay awake (counting strokes, not sheep) I see how easy I could have recorded par after par, by merely maintaining that same simple take away and follow through that seems so easy when staring at a bedroom ceiling. No sevens or even sixes are marked here, as my approach shots all have a consistency that no longer seems so elusive as on the course. As we all know, greens-in-regulation are the key to low rounds, and in my pajamas I am suddenly the King of GIR. I make the turn in 38 (still ever the realist!) and proceed to the back nine, where I eventually find myself beginning to leak oil on that stretch of holes that has so often been the death march of a decent real round. In my bed, I go bogey, bogey, bogey and realize now, at nine over, I have to really bear down on the final three holes if I want to save this thing.

 

I puff up the pillows, toss the covers off my torso, and steel myself for the difficult task ahead. The par three 16th  requires a simple, straight-out tee ball, that  I often pull hook into the weeds for a double. Even in my imaginary replay round on the way home, I managed only a bogey. But now, eyes on the prize, and only my wife’s melodic (in case she reads this) snoring to distract me, I manage to lace a 4-iron to within two feet of the cup. Birdie! I’m now eight over with two holes to play. If I can peer hard enough into my bedroom’s yawning darkness and imagine just one more birdie and a par finish, I’ll break 80!

 

No time for sleeping now. I tee it up for the 17th , a par five with definite birdie potential. Imagining the water that is all down the right side, I am suddenly reminded of my normal 2:30 a.m. bathroom visit that’s now an hour late. I pretend the bathroom is a tree to maintain presence in the moment, and then return to bed and step up to the tee. I play my tee shot conservatively down the left side, and then pop a medium iron leftwards (to avoid the water once again) to about a hundred yards out. I hit the sweetest wedge of the day (or middle of the night) to within 8 feet. I know how the putt breaks from missing it so many times on the real green, so this time I add a little more borrow and find the bottom of the cup.

 

The 18th is a long, treacherous par four that I rarely can manage bogey, even on the mental round on the way home. Restive from sleep deprivation now, I willingly take the risk/reward carry over the bulrushes, which shortens the hole considerably, allowing a trusty 5-iron into the green, instead of the usual balky 5-metal. I’m 15 feet away from an incredible birdie and a 78, but nerves (and a sudden, gasping snort from my wife) cause me to overcook the birdie putt, and then I miss the little knee-knocking comebacker and the 79 is gone as well. Tough break to falter like that after such a well-imagined round, but that’s, uh, reality.

 

At least the way I imagine it to be.

 

"How’d you shoot yesterday by the way," my wife asks after awakening from what she says was a "troubled sleep." I answer without a trace of self-deception: "Well, it was a 94, but it could have been a 78."

 

Reid Champagne clearly has one of those minds that wouldn’t be such a terrible thing to waste.

 

 


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Reid Champagne 
The swing and I
Sunday, April 3, 2011

The holes in my head

Tiger Woods said a few years ago that he wanted "to own his golf swing the way he believes only Ben Hogan and Moe Norman owned theirs." He might be looking to fire sale it now, but I know something: I own my golf swing, and I can tell you ownership is one big stinking headache. Owning my golf swing is a lot like owning an old beater that leaks oil like a sieve. Which reminds me...

 

I obtained title to my golf swing at some point in my teens, as near as I can remember. It wasn’t a customized swing. Looking at how it’s performed over the years, I think I may have actually purchased it at one of those "Everything’s A Dollar" emporiums, along with three cans of generic chili that were taped together for another buck.

 

It’s the kind of a swing that when friends or instructors take a look at it, say to me: "When are you going to get rid of that wreck?" But I hold onto it, through round after round of 90-somethings, like a comfortable old shirt filled with chili stains that I just can’t seem to part with, though my regular club now insists I have to wear a sweater over that shirt.

 

The swing wasn’t much to look at, for sure, when I bought it – more like a "fixer-upper" that had been previously owned by a cantankerous old recluse that kept stray cats and never cleaned up. But it was my swing, and along with the "Johnny Revolta" signature set of woods and irons that I believed were sold exclusively through Unclaimed Freight outlets, and a pair of equally inexpensive water resistant golf shoes, (to which, in fact, water, even dew, seemed to be intimately drawn to my socks), I strode confidently out to the local public links to make my mark in the game.

 

More than 40 years later, those shoes and clubs are long gone, but that swing remains firmly within my grip. After so many years, it’s just tough to let go. There’s so many memories attached to that swing; it would probably take a shoe bag full of anti-depressants to part with any of them. (There’s that almost metaphysical recollection of the time I led a two-day tournament with an opening 86, needing only, as it turned out, a 102 in the second round to win my flight. Instead, "The Swing and I" carved a smooth 107 on a windless and perfect day for golf. You simply can’t buy experiences like that, unless you do own your own golf swing like Tiger wants to do.

 

Funny thing about it, there are times when I don’t feel I own my golf swing, times when I wind up shooting a respectable round. Recently, I opened up a round on a very demanding local course with three consecutive GIR’s (a possible fourth dribbling to rest on the collar of the 4th green). Evidently, while it’s possible to own a bad golf swing, it appears possible to occasionally rent a good one (like when you travel, and you park your oil-spewing beater at the airport and rent a Hertz upon arrival at your destination). My golfing buddy that day said, "Where’s this coming from?" (in much the same way my friends ask when I show up in that Hertz.) I just shrugged back at him, and then proceeded to three-putt all three of those greens. Someday, I should tell you about the putting stroke I apparently bought at a garage sale in a 55+ community.

 

What I actually own, of course, is not a golf swing, but what could better be termed a Golf Ball Dispersing Device. You know, like those canisters at sporting events that launch promotional goo-gahs to the fans in the upper deck. In fact, golf ball manufacturers would be smart to license my swing (yeah, right) and shrink-wrap it to every box of balls they sell, as a special free bonus.

 

Which gives me an idea. Maybe I could sell my swing myself on one of those "But wait there’s more!" Ronco-type ads on TV. I could offer my Golf Ball Dispersal Device, sprucing it up for TV as the Amazing Golf Ball Dispersing Device.

 

"But wait, there’s more! If you order during this TV ad, we’ll throw in the Amazing Putting Stroke ABSOUTELY FREE. And if you’re not completely satisfied (or thoroughly disgusted) return it within 30 days, but keep the Amazing Putting Stroke as our gift.

 

Care to try my product, Tiger?

 

The question I should ask my tax accountant one day (who could just be the kid at the bag drop of my home course, the one who points to my shirt, reminding me about the sweater, and to put a piece of cardboard under my car’s engine block after I park it) is do I have to report my golf swing to the IRS – and if so, can I claim it as a loss?

 

Reid Champagne’s golf shots can be found all over Newark, DE, as well as the occasional local fairway.  

  


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Reid Champagne 
A hacker’s history of golf
Monday, March 14, 2011

They say hisotry is written by the winners

They say history is written by the winners. I suppose that’s true. Had the English defeated the Continental Army, I’m sure that today men like Washington, Franklin, Hamilton, Adams and Jefferson would be written of merely as "insurgents," terrorists" and "bitter-enders."

 

I would think the writing of golf history would follow the same path; namely, it’s written by the people who were successful at it. What about the hackers and the chops, all those high-handicappers who just couldn’t get the hang of the game? What about golf history as seen through the eyes of the guys and gals who have, throughout the ages, hit it 200 yards sideways? I think the history of that grand game might look something like this:

 

1452

King James II of Scotland bans the playing of golf, because it is distracting his subjects from their archery practice. Actually, his subjects were, in fact, continuing their archery practice, along with their golf playing. The King simply noticed all the archers’ arrows flying off to the right, and blamed their golf swings the inaccuracy.

 

1471

King James III of Scotland reaffirms the ban on golf, after carding a snowman on his home course.

 

1491

King James IV of Scotland again re-affirms the ban on golf, after knocking his tee shot into the Firth of Forth three consecutive times on his home course.

 

1502

King James VI of Scotland repeals the ban on golf after making an ace on the third hole of his home course.

 

1513

Queen Catherine of England writes to Cardinal Wolsey referring to the growing popularity of golf, and how she never seems to see the King anymore, and when she does he’s wreaking of cigar smoke and Bloody Marys. Wolsey concludes that the Queen is the first golf widow in England.

 

1567

Mary Queen of Scots is criticized for playing golf just a day after the murder of her husband. She stands in solemn silence on the 4th tee as the King’s funeral cort¸ge rides by. Her consort praises the queen for her respect for the dead, and the Queen replies, "It’s the least I could do. I was married to him for 20 years," thus recording history’s first golf joke.

 

1602

Earliest known reference to a set of clubs being made specifically for an individual golfer, in this case King James VI of Scotland. Later that year, the King is the first individual to blame his clubs for his poor play.

 

1603

King James VI appoints William Mayne as the "royal clubmaker." Later, the King shoots 103 with his new clubs and orders a new set, and then another one after his continued failure to break 100. His scoring woes continue throughout the season.

 

1604

King James VI orders the royal clubmaker beheaded.

 

1642

John Dickson receives a license as ball-maker for Aberdeen, Scotland. His architect brother James designs course featuring water in play on more than a dozen holes, and brother John becomes a millionaire.

 

1764

St. Andrews converts its links from 22 holes to 18 holes, but members continue to tell their wives the course is still 22 holes long, and that’s why they’re late to home.

 

1767

James Durham plays the St. Andrews course in 94 strokes, a record that will stand for nearly a century, making thousands of 20-plus handicappers today wish they’d been born 200 years earlier.

 

1768

The Golf House at Leith is erected. It is the first clubhouse. Prices for featheries in the pro shop are ten times what Dickson is selling them for.

 

1832

Mowers for cutting golf course grass are manufactured, but many courses still use sheep to keep the grass from getting too high. One course straps drinks and snacks to the back of one of its sheep, making the sheep the first beverage cart in golf history. Course shepherdess Edwinna is subjected to sexually suggestive taunts throughout the day.

 

1848

The gutta percha ball is introduced by the Rev. Roger Paterson. It flies farther and costs less than the featherie. The pro shop at Leith marks the "guttie" up to be twice as expensive as the featheries.

 

1858

St. Andrews issues new rules of golf, stipulating as the first rule that one round consists of 18 holes. Members tell wives the new rule is a "typo," and a round is till 22 holes long, and that’s why they’re late to home.

 

Also, Allan Robertson shoots a 79 on the Old Course, and is the first person to break 80. In the press story, James Durham is believed to be the first golfer referred to as a "hacker."

 

1860

Willie Park wins first British Open Golf Championship at Prestwick, beating seven players who played three rounds of 12 holes each. Members of St. Andrews attending the tournament tell their wives the tournament consists of three rounds of 22 holes each, and that’s why they’re late to home.

 

1861

Rules of entry for the British Open change so that amateurs can compete as well as professional. It is the earliest known reference to the term "sandbagging."

 

1868

First hole-in-one is recorded by Young Tom Morris. Upon seeing the ball disappear into the hole, he blurts: "The drinks are on me!"

 

1869

Young Tom Morris drafts first document covering hole-in-one insurance.

 

 2011

Thousands of hackers who’ve been telling themselves, "I am Tiger Woods," suddenly are.

 

Reid Champagne continues to spurn basic research in Newark, Delaware.


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Ryan Becker 
5 things he’s working on
Tuesday, March 8, 2011

As the new season approaches, I have been focusing on what I need to do to get better this year.  That is the goal for all of us, right?  Having a plan for how to improve is critically important to achieving results.  Without a plan, you run the risk of wasted effort during your practice or playing sessions.  So here goes:

1) Practice With a Purpose:  Make practice time count.  It is easy to lose focus when you are just beating balls at the range.  Never hit a practice shot without thinking about what you want to accomplish with that shot.  Pick a target, identify the distance, check your alignment, and evaluate the results.

2) Develop a Consistent Pre-Shot Routine And Stick To It:  We have all felt pressure on the golf course:  standing on the first tee with a group of people watching, grinding to win a hole and collect a $15 Nassau, or maybe playing the last few holes with a chance to qualify for the Club Championship. 

Whatever the source, pressure on the golf course can alter the mechanics of your swing and cause an errant shot when you can least afford it.  The anecdote?  Routine and repetition.  Doing something the same way over and over again builds confidence and establishes a routine that will allow you to repeat a quality swing over and over again when it counts. 

This process begins before the shot.  Annika Sorenstam just wrote a great post for her Golf Academy where she noted the importance of focus and a consistent pre-shot routine and explained that at the height of her career her pre-shot routine was exactly 24 seconds long.  That precision is stunning.  Find a routine that is comfortable for you and practice it.

3) W-I-N:  Lou Holtz recently did a spot on the Golf Channel and one of his themes was how important it was to W-I-N – for Holtz this meant focusing on "What’s Important Now."

Great golfers all have one thing in common:  a short memory.  We all get stuck dwelling on a bad shot and we let it ruin our next three shots.  Try a different approach.  After you hit your shot – good or bad – shift your focus to "What’s Important Now" and you will realize that the answer is simply the next shot.  There is nothing you can do to get the last shot back.  You need to worry about what you can control – the shot that comes next.

4) Be Better From 100 Yards and In:  If you think hard about where you lose the most shots, it’s probably from within 100 yards of the green. I have always battled my wedges, and this is the year I am dedicated to getting better.  I am locked and loaded with some new Vokey wedges and a new attitude.  I want to get to the point that when I am holding a wedge in my hand, I am looking at it as an opportunity to make birdie instead of thinking about trying not to screw up my great drive!

5) 31 Putts or Fewer Each Round:  We’ve all heard the saying, "Drive for show, putt for dough."  Fewer putts equal lower scores; it’s as simple as that.  I wanted to set a realistic goal for the number of putts that will give me the best chance of breaking 80, and it was 31.  Set a goal for yourself and track your progress.  If you are consistently hitting your goal, then drop it by two shots – keep challenging yourself.

Ryan Becker, a Philadelphia native, is an avid golfer who currently has an 8.5 handicap.  A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the Penn State Dickinson School of Law, Becker works as an attorney in New York City.  His blog is A Healthy Golf Obsession.


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Reid Champagne 
March of the Snowbirds
Monday, February 28, 2011

March of the Snowbirds

We begin to show up in places such as Florida or South Carolina as early as November. Our numbers peak in February and March, and then taper off again by the end of April. We come from all parts of the frozen north, from Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware -- even Canada.

 

Unlike many natural migrations that can create problems for some communities, this one is considered a boon and a blessing for the local economy. (It is only the breakfast waitresses who may complain, but only because they’ve heard, "Hey, sweetie, are your legs tired, because you’ve been running though my mind all night," virtually every morning for six straight months.)

 

I am, of course, referring to the migration of my fellow Great Northern Snowbirds, in this case, that particular species, whose long, harsh winters include routing putting courses through their living and dining rooms, and watching reruns of the Nationwide Tour on the Golf Channel. Like a young man’s fancy in spring, each winter the fancy of many of these Great Northerns turns – not to love, necessarily (although such migrations have been known to include a lap dance or two) – but to southern destinations, for sure.

 

But here’s the thing: It’s not the actual going that gets us Snowbirds to take wing, but the "planning" (actually, just a series of weekend poker games) that can go on for months prior to the actual trip.

 

Before that, though, is the previous year’s trip’s ceremonial "Days of Recollections" – a kind of Lenten reflection on all that had gone on during that last trip (actually, just another series of weekend poker games), replete with testimonials, memoirs, reenactments, and finally collapsing upon a litany of insincere apologies, shallow assurances "never to do anything like that again" and maybe even a lone sobriety pledge that no one believes even for a minute. Only then can next year’s preparations properly get underway, since it’s last year’s moral decay that is the taproot for the coming year’s anticipated depravities.

 

(Incidentally, no planning can be considered complete without at least one wink-and-a-nod conspiracy that involves something along the lines of cans of shaving cream, duct tape and a digital camera suitable for flooding the Internet with j-pegs of fathers caught in the act of being their own children.

 

I wanted to reveal some of these behavioral instincts of my fellow Snowbirds, because I want to let all you julep-sipping course owners in on a little secret. You know all that trouble you put your superintendents through to grow rye grass that stays green in the winter, as the Bermuda turns brown? And you wind up with those surreal courses that look like a mixture of spinach surrounded by Cream of Wheat? I can promise you, it doesn’t matter to most of us whether your courses are green, brown, yellow or blue. Our whole thing, you see, is simply to be able to run around in shorts in February somewhere. You could paint Wal-Mart parking lots green and rename them The Del Boca Vista Golf and Tennis Club, and we’d still flock there.

 

The most obsessive of us wait for a howling snowstorm to blow through our town. We turn up the Weather Channel real loud to hear the blizzard warnings and school closings, and then we take our suitcases, which have been part-packed for as many as three months prior to our golf trip, and unpack them. We lay several pairs of shorts and Cool-Max golf shirts on the bed, look at the snow blowing sideways outside our window, and then back at the shorts and the shirts, and then the window, and then the shorts and back out the window again...

 

Well, you get the idea. All the South ever has to be for us is warm. You needn’t waste precious resources on island greens, sculpted fairways, flash-faced bunkering and shimmering man-made lakes. Just keep it somewhere between 65 and 75, preferably dry, but we’ll even take some warm rain, if necessary. But it’s wearing shorts and shirtsleeves in winter that pulls us toward the moss and spreading oaks each and every year.

 

Now I may be exaggerating here a bit – maybe you couldn’t get away with painting a Wal-Mart parking lot green and calling it... you know; but I’m not exaggerating by as much as you think. Fact is most of our golf games don’t travel well. Our 14 handicaps have been generally honed to a smooth (though partially indictable) finish by playing our home course four days a week, and consequently knowing where all the sandbagging opportunities lay. (For instance, we always know here at home to double the bet at the forced carry on the back nine that is just a stinkweed longer than Big Al’s banana slice can usually carry.)

 

But get us to a strange course with new twists and turns, and bunkers you can’t simply putt out of like the ones back on the home course, and we soon realize that just breaking 100 is a worthy challenge. So you’ll hear most of us saying after that first day, "I really don’t care what I’m shooting; I’m just glad to be playing golf in shorts this time of year."

 

Oh, yes. That’s the other remark the breakfast waitresses may get tired of hearing, too, by the end of the season.

 

Reid Champagne still occasionally migrates from his summer feeding grounds  in Newark, Del. 


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Reid Champagne 
Bogeys and stogeys
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bogeys and stogeys

That Florida happens to be both the golf capital and the cigar capital of the United States is a happy coincidence. A coincidence because cigar making came to the state when a few enterprising Cubans figured out that making handmade Havana cigars in Florida was a better marketing ploy than selling handmade Florida cigars in Havana.  And then golf came to Florida when a few enterprising land developers realized submerged swampland could be sold as "forced carries" and "natural settings" to a nation with plenty of money and a limited understanding of drainage.

 

But the coincidence of golf and cigars here is a happy one, because nothing seems to say "recreational activity" quite like the sight of a deeply tanned, almost manatee-like endomorph, occupying slightly more than half of a golf cart, decked out in colors never before seen in a rainbow, with two-toned shoes and a panama hat straight out of an action adventure set in pre-Castro Cuba, flanked by a pair of Bloody Mary’s and puffing on an Arturo Fuentes the size of a SCUD missile.

 

Florida’s first Cohiba was rolled in Tampa’s historic Ybor City district sometime in the 1880’s. Florida’s first golf course was built in Palm Beach in 1896. The first golf victory cigar was no doubt lit on that course when two railroad chiselers won a $5 Nassau from two land development swindlers, which produced yet another happy coincidence: Connecting resort hotels and railways in a way to get Florida vacationers to their destinations without the subtle risk of slipping away into quicksand en route.

 

While chomping a Don Capitano hasn’t seemed to have caught on with golf’s professional tours (try to imagine Steve Williams handing Tiger his putter and a smoldering Monte Cristo at the same time), most of today’s well-stocked pro shops now include at least a counter humidor filled with a variety of Churchills, Presidentes and Robustos, and all, incidentally, robustly marked up to make that $120 logoed golf shirt seem like a bargain by comparison.

 

But our typical hacker needs a jolt of confidence to polish the rough edges of a $2,000 set of clubs. And nothing says confidence like a fine hand rolled cigar lit at that precise moment when a preposterously improbable series of swing flaws converge with the frequency of a Transit of Venus to produce a striped, 250-yard drive down the middle of that first fairway. And soon, it will be those puffs of signal smoke from that Cuesta-Rey that will help the other members of the foursome locate their lost lamb amidst the thick woods where his shanked second shot has now sent him.

 

It seems that a blunt wedged between the blunt digits of our average weekend warrior imparts a lasting swagger that neither titanium, cavity backs, offset hosels or graphite can sustain. Lighting up after a series of caroms off trees, skips through ponds, fortuitous plinks off decorative stone or railroad ties that produced our beloved chop’s first ever 89 suggests the very epitome of success and triumph. Stoking that victory stogey is a well-deserved act of celebration to a round that could otherwise be described as a poorly-coordinated train wreck. Instead, that Torpedo says, "I win!" for a round that more truthfully shrieks, "You suck!"

 

The ritual of cigar smoking quite compatibly follows the ritual of shotmaking. There is that whole pre-smoke routine: unwrapping the cellophane, moistening the cigar’s outer wrapper by rolling it around in your mouth, borrowing and then clipping the end with a cigar cutter based on an 18th century French death penalty solution, firing up with a specially crafted (and priced) butane lighter possessing the thrust of a Shuttle launch and then, at long last, puffing to get a good glow that turns out to cover about a third of the end, and burns out by the time you find your tee shot in the woods a few minutes later. It all consumes about the same amount of time it takes Big Al to ponder, select a club, ponder some more, waggle, take three practice swings and then address before ultimately hitting a 50-yard topper into the creek he had (much) earlier played safely short of.

 

And choosing the right cigar for golf can be as important as choosing the right club, especially for those players who - to slightly paraphrase Peter Aliss - are "great sprayers of the ball."

 

The bigger the cigar the easier it is to find, especially when placed amidst a thick patch of sawgrass, coleus and poison oak, after your ambitious recovery shot from deep within the woods, failed to negotiate either the stand of sabal palms, mangrove swamp, waste bunker, pond and bulkhead, all of which stood between your ball and the green - a shot you just knew you had the game for, even after the more typical 165-yard banana slice that got you into this predicament in the first place.

 

And, finally, what better way to judiciously interrupt the windbag telling how his 104 could just as easily have been an 82 if he just could have made a few putts and caught a few breaks like the one off the cart shed roof that saved a bogey, by suddenly saying, "Dang, I think I left my tee-gar on that hole."

  

Reid Champagne puffs and pouts from his home base in Newark, Del.


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Reid Champagne 
A few loose screws
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I have a driver designed by some of the leading minds in golf club engineering that is made to produce a draw

I have a driver that has allowed me to hit the ball farther than I have ever hit it before. I can hit it farther into the woods, farther out of bounds and deeper into a lake sitting on another hole way off to the right that nobody in my foursome would have thought was in play until they saw the splash.

 

My driver has been designed by some of the leading minds in golf club engineering to help me produce a draw. Inserts called "launch cartridges," are positioned to weight the club face in such a way that no matter how much my flying elbow, outside-in, reverse pivot, off-balanced, laid-off and blocked swing flaws combine to produce a banana slice so severe that the ball almost seems to have been a satellite launched by a boomerang, the club will turn that ball flight into a draw. That’s the way the engineers designed it. With this club my ball flight is a controlled, but pronounced fade. Imagine what it looked like before.

 

I guess the ability to draw the ball is some God-given gift, or at least the result of training and practice that I refuse to devote to a game that is supposed to be a recreational diversion. All I know is that as long as I continue to set up dead left, I have a reasonable chance of delivering a tee ball somewhere toward the center- right of the fairway. Most of the time.

 

For there are those times when all my swing flaws combine in some mystically inexplicable way to cancel each other out and produce a finely-tuned, beautiful-to-watch, gentle draw that disappears into the woods on the left where I had set up (remember?) to hit that pronounced fade. No golf club engineer can make a club to deal with that.

 

That’s because they’re putting the "launch cartridges" – or screws – in the wrong place. Instead of screwing them into the club face, they should be providing a standard driver, but with a surgical kit that would allow you to screw the cartridges into the precise positions of your wrists, elbows, shoulders and back to produce the draw bias they’ve been mistakenly designing into the club. Include a couple of those screws for your head and I believe you’ve delivered a complete package.

 

No sport has made broader use of the entire spectrum of mechanical, aeronautical and cosmological engineering to design a golf club that – under the appropriate launch conditions – could put a golf ball into orbit, land it on the moon and return it safely to earth (okay, I’m making up the last part). But just as na•ve it would be to think we could have launched Apollo 11 using a kid a with a sling shot, we insist on placing this precisely designed, engineered and manufactured instrument into the hands of an average golfer who insists the golf swing should be no more difficult to execute than making a left turn – or in most of their cases, a right one- against traffic. Giving a 460cc, titanium headed, offset, draw-biased driver, with a frequency matched, low torque, high kick point graphite shaft and Winn grips, is like giving an iPod to a Druid.

We’ve long since learned in the world at large that technology will not and can not solve all of man’s problems. But for some reason, out on a golf course, we stubbornly cling to the notion that the solution to keeping our golf ball in the fairway and off the roofs of the adjoining golf course community requires a technological, rather than a human, or even, a divine intervention.

It’s not the screws in the club head that have to be moved and adjusted, so much as the loose ones in our head that have to be tightened.

 

Reid Champagne, a freelance columnist for more than 25 years, is currently the contributing humorist for Delaware Today magazine. His golf humor has appeared in several editions of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.     

 


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