March 10, 2019

I believe in serendipity.

…and I desperately needed a diversion.

It was Saturday morning, and boy, did I need a diversion. A string of 14-hour days swimming in the shallows with some very big sharks at work and a string of medical appointments with Tracey had left me so dog-friggin’-tired on Friday night that it was all I could do to crawl off to bed at 10 PM after a dinner and a hot bath. But a weekend and a new day awaited, and, rather than doing the work I promised by boss, I knew I needed a diversion: something that would make me think I actually had a life, y’know?

But where to go? Say, I have an idea – how about going down to the PGA Tour Superstore down the street?

I really hadn’t planned on buying anything, but while poking through the clearance aisle a salesperson came up to me and asked if I was looking for something. I guess in some way the scene recalled Ralphie in A Christmas Story when Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas, when after not being able to remember to tell him what he really wanted, Ralphie starts crawling up the slide and blurts out in rapid-fire the exact requirements of the BB gun he so desperately hungered for.

“A TaylorMade #3 hybrid and 60-degree wedge!” I blurted out, my mouth far ahead of where my brain was at the time. (No surprise there!)

The sales guy smiled and said, “Guess it’s your lucky day. Just so happens there’s a TaylorMade fitting rep here with us today. Why don’t you go over to the TaylorMade stall and introduce yourself? I’ll be over with your clubs in just a minute.”

The TaylorMade guy was indeed there, but, to be truthful, from the sounds of it golf wasn’t his only gig. From what I could gather from the conversation he was having on his phone it sounded as if he was also somehow involved in real estate – nothing surprising there, it seems like everyone these days has a toe or two dipped in our very h-o-t hot real estate market. But he seemed like a nice enough guy. Asked me a bunch of questions, seemed genuinely concerned about what I was looking for. He set up the machine for a left-handed golfer, and by that time the sales guy had brought samples of a M6 3 hybrid and a 60-degree wedge for me to try.

(The backstory of this is that I’ve been feeling very frustrated with the Cobra hybrids I’ve been carrying for two years now. I’ve tried everything: setting the ball in the middle of my stance, a little back in my stance, a little forward in my stance, a lot forward in my stance. Upright swing plane, shallow swing plane. Swing harder, swing slower. Nothing seems to permanently take, and frankly, it’s not just hurting my game, it’s pissing me off. And the Callaway 58-degree wedge I’ve been using has been OK – I’ve actually had some highlights with it – but it’s one ugly muhfuhkah (if you know what I mean), with a big black circle of something that nothing seems to be able to remove. And besides, I’ve been just wanting to get anything and everything Callaway out of my bag. It’s OK for everyone else, but my past experiences with Callaways have left a bad taste in my mouth.)

That didn’t mean, of course, that I was going to buy anything – one thing about TaylorMades (and, I guess, just about any golf club manufacturer) is that new equipment is expensive. And for me, a 26-handicap golfer striving to get down to a 20, the equipment is the absolute last issue I have with my game. More work on my driver, short irons, and course management will do a helluva lot more to reduce my handicap than any new club or clubs added to the bag.

But as I say, I needed a diversion.

I dropped a ball and started taking swings with the TaylorMade 3 hybrid. No question it had a nice feel to it. The TaylorMade rep spent the first five minutes watching me, agreeing with me that the correct way to play this club was position the ball in the middle of my stance and swing at 70% my normal swing. After a few swings he asked me why I was a 26-handicap. I replied that’s what everyone asks. He tells me he’s going to off to try and find me a couple of different shaft flexes, but I could tell he was itching to make a couple of phone calls and was left alone.

I really enjoyed the time. Whacking balls into the screen, playing around with ball position, swing plane, swing speed. After the week I’d had, I felt like I was on a mini golf vacation. My hand felt even better than it did on Thursday when I hit a large bucket for the very first time since my Xiaflex procedure back in December, which had felt better than my first time out hitting a small bucket ten days’ prior to that. The discomfort was there, but barely noticeable. Overhead, the speakers were playing 70s rock – I heard Kenny Loggins, Chic, Van Morrison’s “Old Domino” I hadn’t heard for a while. Seals & Croft’s insipid “Hummingbird” I could do without. I was taking swings and really enjoying the feel of the club in my hands. Was it better than the Cobra 3 hybrid? Not that I could really tell. My distances when caught fairly decently to “on the screws” had been ranging anywhere from 171 to 185 yards – probably no better, no worse than how I probably hit the Cobra.

By this time, I had probably hit the equivalent of a medium-sized bucket, and the TaylorMade guy hadn’t come back. If I hadn’t been enjoying the overall experience – hitting golf balls, music overhead, the sounds of golf-related activity all around me – I probably would have just up and left at that time.

But, as I said above, I believe in serendipity.

(It should be stated at this point that one of the things I have been working very hard on as of late is the feeling of having my arms and the shaft vertical and at the very same place at impact as they are at address. This goes back to last fall when I was struggling mightily with my short game and my Goodboys pal Killer encouraged me to get the shaft vertical to the ground at impact on my chips – something that has made a huge difference with my short game.)

I had taken a few minutes to take a break and just enjoy my surroundings. I dropped a new ball and then at that very moment just happened to make the absolute best, purest swing of the session, catching it right on the screws – perfect swing, perfect ball flight – when overhead came the sounds of ABBA singing “I Do, I Do, I Do, I do, I Do”, with it’s opening lines:

Love me or leave me, make your choice but believe me
I love you
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do
I can’t conceal it, don’t you see, can’t you feel it?
Don’t you too?
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do

I stood there posing, those few precious seconds where everything in life seems to be in sync: finish on the front foot, back toe screwed into the ground, club finish high just off the shoulders, the ball, following the perfect trajectory and apex, stopping at a whopping 194 yards from the tee. Overhead, Agnetha and Frida crooning the song I would later log at #1 on the Goodboys Nation blog post I had been working off and on for the past couple of weeks. It was a moment in time, something that doesn’t happen very often.

“Nice swing.”

I hadn’t noticed the TaylorMade guy was back and had been watching. I sure hoped he hadn’t seen my previous swing (a big push skied to the left that barely went 140 yards).

“I have this stiff flex shaft you might want to try.”

“No thanks”, I told him. I’ll take the clubs.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 09:50 | Comments Off on “I Do” Golf
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