My week in golf: 'Putt' off by the 3 club rule?
The EU referendum hardly got a squeak. The only thing most of us know about Trump was he did up Turnberry.
Seismic events that turned the world upside down in 2016 barely moved the needle in our clubhouse.
A mention of the 2 club and putter competition, though, is enough to send some of our members marching off down the 1st waving placards.
Nothing divides opinion more at Sandburn Hall – the club near York where I tee it up every week – than this novelty competition.
It’s a bit of fun as the year ends, some light relief following a campaign of tough competition and a succession of .1s.
The premise is very simple. Take one putter, add two other clubs, and compete in an 18-hole Stableford off full handicap.
Cards on the table, I’m a big fan of the format and probably take it a bit more seriously than I should.
Two days before the event, I was out at Moor Allerton trying out different club combinations in a bid to find the optimal bag configuration.
I never put this sort of practice in for a medal.
But while I’m a glass half full kind of guy when it comes to the three club rule, there are others who are throwing their container off a very large cliff and watching it smash into a thousand pieces below.
‘It isn’t proper golf’, they complain, arguing the short days and even shorter temperatures are enough of a restriction on their weekend golf fix without forcing them to leave 11 of their bats at home.
I play in a Saturday group that can number more than two dozen during the weekly roll-up. For the two club and putter, only three of us turned up.
After extensive testing, I had opted for a driver and a 7-iron to accompany my flat stick on the journey.
I tried very hard to fit a hybrid in there, on the grounds I could hit it on some of the longer par 3s.
Now everyone has seemingly decided the TaylorMade M2 is the best driver in the world, however, it felt like folly to leave my magic wand sitting on the sidelines.
If it’s good enough for Tiger and Rory…
Having opted for the big dog, I was then forced into a mid-iron compromise. I couldn’t well put a wedge in there after that, could I?
So I knew I was going to be struggling on a couple of par 3s.
And God help me if I landed in a bunker.
I mused the extra length I’d get off the tee, and the versatility of the 7, might make up for having to bunt one in from anywhere under 150 yards.
This strategy looked like sheer folly when I double bogeyed the opening hole – a par 5.
This was surely where my carefully constructed plan would be at its best. Driver, 7-iron, 7-iron, two putts.
But if you fat your first iron, you’re in a bit of trouble. The whole thing was in danger of becoming a house of cards.
When I got a drive out of the middle, though, good things were happening.
I birdied the 2nd – stiffing the 7 from 145 yards to 3 feet – and was still thereabouts standing on the tee of the 7th.
A mid-iron, unfortunately, has less versatility when you’re trying to strike it out of cabbage.
After being slapped in the face by a branch negotiating a tricky lie (my drive had not been accurate), I succumbed to the inevitable blob.
Then I tried to hit a cut fade with a gripped down driver on our 180-yard par 3 8th only for the ball, inevitably, to stay completely straight.
This is what I like about this competition, though. It forces you to think about the game in different ways.
You have to be inventive. You have to plot your way round.
There’s something very satisfying about hitting the perfect shot with a club that’s completely unsuited to the situation.
When I rolled through our front 9 the next day in a mere 38 strokes, I was convinced I’d also been helped by having much improved tempo.
It’s amazing how well you can hit a club when you know you can’t reach the green and aren’t trying to hit the cover off the ball.
These were fringe benefits. There were no prizes to pick up, unfortunately. 31 points doesn’t cut the mustard.
But that won’t stop me signing up again next year. I’ll never be put off from the two club and putter.