My week in golf: Look out, it’s iron-man!January 9, 2017 The Scoop
Not even a winter bug can stop our club golfer getting out onto the course to try out his shiny new sticks. What a week in golf it's been...
There’s really only two things that would stop me getting in a weekend round – hospitalisation and death.
So even though I’ve spent the last few days feeling like I’ve got one foot in the grave – thank you sinusitis – it still didn’t stop me pulling myself out of my pit to get down to the course.
I had one other pressing reason to tee it up – some shiny new sticks.
I’m amazed I lasted this long, to be honest, having bleated shamelessly about my set since last September.
Then I won a monthly medal, which did cover the cracks for a while, and didn’t want to fall victim to a panic buy.
The other benefit of waiting was the chance to cash in on the January sales.
With a whole load of even shiner new kit about to be released by the big manufacturers, retailers are enticing us by slimming plenty of pounds off the soon to be ‘old’ models.
When my local American Golf, in York, offered double the value on trade in for my former sweethearts, I couldn’t get down there fast enough (thanks to Jamie Ashworth for the fitting).
For anyone who’s remotely interested, I opted for the TaylorMade Psi – very soon to be eclipsed by the new M1.
I tried out a few – Titleist CB and AP2 716 along with Callaway Apex to name just three – and while the numbers were all pretty similar, I just preferred the weight and the feel off the face of the TaylorMade clubs.
So even though I should have spent Saturday morning tucked up with a hot water bottle and an industrial supply of Vicks, I found myself standing on the first tee swinging away.
Often, when you are poorly, having something else to focus on can prove a willing distraction. That and overdosing on cold and flu pills.
But how did I get on? Would you believe it, I only went and shot 77.
Now, in fairness, it was a short course and our par 5 9th at Sandburn Hall was only a flick of a drive thanks to some bunker work pushing the tee halfway down the fairway.
Even so, I was pretty chuffed and, whether it was a placebo or not, I felt my new irons were at the heart of the success.
Oh, how I have missed having a 4-iron in the bag! I like a hybrid as much as anyone but, sometimes, there’s no better feeling than crushing a decent mid iron and watching it arc towards the green.
Like it did on the 11th, a shot that really fired my round into the stratosphere.
By the time we approached the 14th and I hit the 4 170 yards to 12 feet and drained the putt, I felt like a proper player again (or as proper as an 11-handicapper can be).
I stiffed a wedge at the 15th and hit another lovely approach on the next, only to inexplicably 3-putt from 10 feet to bring an epic trio holes to a close.
I don’t think I’ve ever come close to getting three successive birdies. The most I’d ever had before was 3 in a round.
What difference did the new irons really make?
Well, having spurned a set of game improvers that were heavily offset, I’m no longer massively hooking the ball on my big misses.
I’ve never been a slicer. The big miss has always been left.
So having some irons that promoted my bad shot wasn’t a particularly smart purchase in hindsight.
I’ve traded in a bigger head but have realised that I am a better ball striker than I have given myself credit for. I don’t need a thick sole or a wider face.
I hit 10 greens in regulation – I’d usually manage no more than 4 or 5 – and that’s given me confidence that I can put myself in positions to get more pars and birdies.
Now I realise it’s one swallow and all that. I’m aware I’m not suddenly going to turn into Mr Single Figures on the basis of one good day.
But I feel I’ll hit the ball more consistently and that should free up the time to work on the part of my game that is going to demand the most attention before the season gets under way.