Grip It and Rip It

I’m not Tiger Woods. As much as I would like to bomb it down the fairway 330 yards with pinpoint accuracy, it’s not going to happen. But that doesn’t stop me from trying. Over the past two years I’ve been working on upgrading my golf clubs to accommodate what I perceive as my improving golf skill. This weekend the final pieces were acquired. Time to let the big dog eat.

My previous golf bag consisted of a complete set of Golden Bear golf clubs. Driver, 3 Wood, 5 Wood and 3 Iron through Pitching Wedge. Toss in probably the most broke-ass putter that I had been using for the past 5 years and you have yourself a decent but not respectable setup.

First on my list up upgrades was a putter. Probably the most important but least respected club in any bag. Christmas of 2007 I received an Odyssey White Hot Putter – Model #1. It’s money. The next big purchase was a complete Iron set. I demoed a few clubs from various sets at the local Dick’s Sporting Goods to see what felt comfortable and settled on Titleist’s CB line. The only caveat was that I wanted a 2 Iron with the set. My swing translates better to Iron play than it does with a 3 Wood off the tee. It’s something I’m working on, but I need to play to my strengths. I went to my dad to see if his powers of eBay could find any deals out there and he came back within a week with a possible purchase. I’m particularly skeptical spending more than $30 on anything on eBay, this was a purchase that was going to go over $350 if I agreed to it. Thankfully the seller was more than willing to answer some additional questions on the quality of the clubs and even sent some extra pictures to prove that they had barely been used. The clubs came within 4 days of the sale and I have been in love ever since. The set had a 2 Iron through Pitching Wedge, and they have been worth every penny.

Last fall I bought a Titleist 60 degree wedge to complete the bottom end of my Irons. I’m still getting used to the different shots I can pull off with it. Using a club in short distances requires a lot of feel and comfort with the club. It’s a work in progress but so far, so good.

The final upgrade was the big step: Driver and 3 Wood. I came to the conclusion that it would be better to upgrade now, and improve my swing on the better clubs than work with my old and busted THEN upgrade and have to rework my swing to match the new hottness. I demoed a few of the clubs (again at my local Dick’s Sporting Goods) and settled on a NIKE SQ SUMO 5000 Driver and a TaylorMade Burner 3 Wood. After demoing these clubs in the cozy virtual driving range setting I decided to take them out to the real range to see what they felt like after hitting close to 100 golf balls in one session.

Initial report: WORTH EVERY PENNY!!!!

The Driver still needs some tweaking, but I was flying 250 and rolling to 270 at the top. The 3 wood felt effortless and was topping out at 220-230. ZOMG!

The final part of this equation is the golf ball. I currently play Nike Power Long, but I’m looking to switch to something that might be more in line with my swing, something that can offer a better feel from 150 and in. My confidence level with anything under a 7 Iron is one of my strengths and I need to play to that if I want to continue to improve.

As the Spring and Summer rolls on I’m going to keep detailed records of my stroke play sessions to calculate my actual handicap. From there I can set a tangible goal for improvement. I’ll be participating in the company golf club this year, so that’s at least one round of 9 holes per week if I stick with it.

I consider parts of Golf to be particularly elitist, and I accept that. Almost like high school, a significant portion of your time can be spent on projecting a certain image to your companions or competitors. Do you hit Titleist Pro V1 or some generic X-Outs? Do you use a no-name putter or the latest Belly Putter from Odyssey? Do you play Nike SQ Sumo Irons or whatever was on sale? Are you teeing up with a $500 TaylorMade R9 TP Driver or are your woods actually made of wood? For example, I have a Titleist hat with Viriginia Tech colors and a VT logo on the side. My golf bag says Callaway but is decked out in Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange. (No doubt a custom color configuration for the area. There is a similar style offered in UVA colors too.) The fact that I know and care about these things says a lot about me, but also about golf consumers in general. It’s both juvenile and superficial, but people are willing to pay a lot of money for their appearance, even in These Troubled Times (drink!). I have spent a lot of money on these clubs in part because I can tell the difference in quality, but also because I want to be respected. Hitting a 9 Iron 2 feet from the pin with random club is one thing, but hitting it with my Titleist 704CB means I got game. Or at least I’d like to think that’s the case.

The thing about golf is that it’s just you out there. You can’t blame a bad shot on a teammate or a bad call from a referee. It’s you, the club, the ball and that tiny flag in the distance. The dedication required, the focus necessary, the control that is essential to a successful golf outing: those are the things that keep me coming back round after round.

PS. My golf setup will be officially complete when I put a Hokie Bird head cover on my Driver AND I can have the skill and confidence (read: arrogance) to wear THESE on the course. I like the Maroon/White or the Yellow/Lime/Black. Go Hard or Go Home.

PPS. Other candidates for post titles: Gambling is illegal at Bushwood, Can I Get a Mulligan?, What is the Golf Swing? By Roy McAvoy, Gunga-Galunga, GOPHER!!!!

2 thoughts on “Grip It and Rip It

  1. Your game sounds a lot like mine. I started just about 3-4 years ago and have been hooked ever since. I just started last year in a Men’s league that plays weekly – 9 holes. That weekly play has taken my game to a little bit higher level. The key as I’m sure you’re aware, is practice and a lot of it.

    I upgraded shortly after playing for a few years with a complete set from Dick’s. I went with the Calloway Big Bertha ’06 irons, sand, lob and pitching wedge all Calloways. Last year I picked up a Taylormade Burner 3-Iron hybrid, which is awseome. The big stick is a Nike SQ. I have yet to upgrade my 3 wood. Oh yeah, I also got a Odyssey White Hoto #1 early on. My idea was if I wanted to learn and play better, I would rather do it with a “serious” set of clubs instead of a starter set. Plus, I agree you need to be taken seriously.

    Maybe a golfup (instead of tweetup) would be in order this summer?


  2. I use to golf every weekend, sometimes both Saturday and Sunday and there were times I did quite well. Went on many golf weekend package deals as well.

    I have never gone crazy on the equipment, but from your post sounds like I should. 🙂

    I have not played in a few years, spend too much time with my nieces, and have too many lows since pumping. 😦

    Whoops I was not suppose to talk about the D.

    Enjoy the game, Tiger.



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