Why aren't you getting better? It's not your clubs – it's you

The Scoop

Alex Perry is tired of hearing your excuses as to why your handicap is not coming down. He explains why in this week's Dialled In

Hello. Welcome to this week’s Dialled In. If you’re here for the Don Cheadle/Oliver Hudson shenanigans you’ve been promised on Twitter, that’s on the next page. But first…

This week I was reminded of an incident that happened many moons ago – during my student days, in fact.

I was in Broadmead in Bristol, the city’s main shopping area, and I’d popped into the UK’s No. 1 sports retailer – their words, not mine – and while waiting to pay I heard an immortal line from behind me in the queue, in the thickest West Country accent.

“Here, babe, I bet I’ll hit this 300 yards every time.”

I turned to see a couple who were, I would say, in their late 30s. The gentleman was checking out his reflection in the head of brand new driver and his wife was staring at her phone. (Probably playing Snake. This was, after all, circa 2003.) I had a little smile to myself and made a mental note to tell my housemates.

The driver in question, by the way, was the Donnay Slammer – remember those? – and was a whopping £9.99 marked down from £19.99.

Now, I mean no disrespect to Donnay or, indeed, this gentleman who brightened up my day. He obviously believed that a snazzy new driver with a shiny 460CC titanium head would make him hit the ball further, and this attitude is just typical of that from people I have encountered week in week out in my 10-plus years in the golf industry.

Can’t keep the ball in play off the tee? Must be the driver.

Struggling to find the green from the fairway? Time for some new irons.

Why won’t the ball go in the hole? Maybe I need to try a blade putter. Or a mallet putter. What about one of those putters that looks like it was modelled on a space station?

Whatever you put in the bag, though, the issue can’t possibly be you, can it? Hell, I was guilty of this myself for so long.

It’s so easy to chuck money at a problem and buy the latest, flashiest gear that the marketing bods tell us will help us hit the ball further, and get the ball in the hole in fewer shots, and get our handicaps down, and probably bring peace on Earth.

Why is it so hard for so many people to accept that the problem is quite simply not enough practice?

And why are people so reluctant to pay for and have lessons? Is it because you’re not getting a physical product in return, something you can show them off to your mates on the 1st tee?

I have a friend who plays off 18 and refuses to budge from his Mizuno tour irons because “they’re the best looking club on the market”. It doesn’t matter how pretty a club is – if it doesn’t do the job for you, it may as well be a pick axe.

Of course, there are benefits to having the right gear for your game, but try out every brand and find out which is best for you. Then get custom fitted into clubs with the correct lie and loft and other nuggets of data suited to your swing.

But the bottom line if you think having the right gear in your bag is going to make you a better player, then you’re in for a shock. You’re not going to get better without working on your game.

Go and see your local pro and I’ll guarantee he can come up with a good deal that works for you financially and around your schedule. And practice, practice, practice. Then practice some more. At least then you don’t have any excuses.

I never did find out if that man could hit it 300 yards – but I’d bet my house that he never even got close. Now if he’d bought some lessons…

Dialled In continues on the next page with two very different yet equally brilliant stories from the US…

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