Mark Townsend: My never-ending club selection quandary

Golf News

Mark Townsend on his never-ending quandary over club selection

When I draw my last breath on this mortal coil ideally my last thought would be towards my family, my nearest and dearest, and a sense of pride at what a happy collective I had surrounded myself with.

The nagging doubt is that, in truth, my last reflection would be on how many hybrids I should have carried.

At the risk of sounding like Alan Partridge, I like hybrids… but, most likely, for all the wrong reasons. I was once told by a great authority that I was a ‘digger’ and so filled my bag with three hybrids of them.

KJ Choi and YE Yang were new heroes to me and the losers who persisted with long irons were philistines, stuck in the ‘80s, much like my dress sense and hairdo.

But that then led to all manner of headaches and indecision and a variety of back, hip and hypochondriac problems saw my swing characteristics change.

The secret was no longer in the dirt and I had become a ‘picker’ – an assessment that would seem to be backed up by the fact I never produce a divot and thin the majority of my bad shots.

As such we are now back to one hybrid, partly as a little nudger for when all you can picture is a lost ball both left and right and you can probably get away with one where you don’t need to commit to the shot.
And partly as a back-up chipper for when the hands have really stopped functioning.

Every week new clubs arrive in the office and, try as I might to avoid their obvious charms, my head is turned. Ideally the powers that be would bring in a new ruling where only 11 clubs are permitted. Because for the past six months I have stuck rigidly to this anyway; there might have been 13 actual clubs in the bag but I am too terrified to put two of them into play.

The 5-iron is viewed with suspicion on account of it being the longest iron in the bag, as well as being viewed with a fairly huge of loathing having rarely done anything other than being mistimed or misdirected (sometimes both) on the rare occasions it leaves the bag.

Its main purpose of late is to try and bunt one under the trees to the right of the 1st though, given that it isn’t that lofted, renders it fairly pointless for even this.

Then there is a 58˚ wedge which should throw up all sorts of options within 50 yards of any green: the drop and stop to a raised green, the low spinny one that bounces once before skidding to an immediate halt right next to the pin, the deft little flop over a bunker and finally maybe even your flexible friend from greenside sand.

Or just a piece of metal that never fails to let you down when most needed and almost certainly puts you in a far worse position (generally some undergrowth) than when it left the satchel.

So, up for grabs this season, to accompany my (don’t) ‘go to’ 4-wood is room enough for two hybrids, or one and a more lofted fairway wood, or a strong hybrid and two weaker siblings, or maybe two putters, or two drivers, or a left-handed club for that once-a-decade moment.

We can forget about the ‘forgiving’ lofted wedge that works in my hands, technology hasn’t moved on that much.  

Every week new clubs arrive in the office and, try as I might to avoid their obvious charms, my head is turned.

Every one is picked up, given a knowing and token waggle, possibly flex the shaft on the floor to tell yourself nothing, have a look at the exotic words on the shaft to tell yourself even less and then let your mind wander to a sunlit day where this piece of equipment bullets one straight down the fairway.

To leave yourself a little flop shot over a bunker…

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