From the Sideline

Column: Hard to argue with technology

Raleigh News & ObserverJanuary 3, 2014 

I’m not as extreme a purist as my dad when it comes to golf, but I credit him for the largely traditionalist views I hold in regard to the sport.

I’ve played the same original Wilson 8802 putter, the small blade with no guides that is often ridiculed as a putt-putt device, since I was 9 years old. I still roll with conventional, old-school-style spikes. And if my irons aren’t blades, well, they’d better be dang close.

So when Santa Claus dropped a high tech, flashy driver with all the doodads and whistles under my Christmas tree, you can imagine I was skeptical. Why wouldn’t I be?

I’ve always been taught the golfer’s swing, not the clubs, is what counts and I shaped my golf game around that mindset. If you are making the correct swing, you can hit any club in anyone’s bag.

There’s a fine line between purism and outright stubbornness, of course, and I admit I’m on the border of the latter.

I agree with being fitted for golf clubs, since different people are different sizes and swing differently. But I get uncomfortably anxious when I see a club dealer making a pitch to a golfer who is looking to cure a slice. Ultimately, it’s not the club’s fault they keep hitting the doctor’s house on hole No. 5.

And I cringe at the site of a gimmick, or the potential for one to occur. I can hardly watch a beginning golfer receive a lesson without being cynical of what’s being taught. I’m pretty sure I can thank the infomercial instructors sell “the perfect golf swing” on television for that feeling.

If you’re saying to yourself, “This guy’s a swing snob,” you pinned the tail on the donkey. But I can’t help it.

Ever since I had a fundamental lesson at a very young age and the golf swing came naturally to me, I’ve looked to avoid at all costs technology’s efforts to produce any other fix to an errant swing. I’ve even taken it upon myself to seek out harder-to-hit clubs, like the blades I mentioned, just to live up to my own standard that any club works with the proper technique.

Every driver I had ever owned prior to Dec. 25 was pretty standard – 8.5-to-10 degrees, stiff shaft. As club heads grew larger and larger over the years, I always tried to find one that didn’t look too gaudy and that had a desirable click at impact.

My Christmas present fits all those criteria, if dialed in accordingly. Unlike my old drivers – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – I now have the option of adjusting to 12 different loft options between 8 and 12 degrees on the single club with the simple turn of an Allen wrench.

That’s not all. I can also set the club to one of seven face angles and swap out a pair of weights to promote a draw or fade, whichever I prefer.

For such a simple-minded golfer, the idea of such versatility was hard to grasp. But it was a Christmas present, people, so I just smiled thankfully and submitted to the fact this cutting edge golf ball whacker was taking up long-term residency in my golf bag.

After trying just one of the 100 possible setting combinations and for just one golf outing, I can already say I’m a fan. I’ll probably like it more and more, the more I play with the settings to tweak my tee shot.

It’s bittersweet to admit, given my general distaste for nearly all things “new and improved.” But there’s nothing like a drive bombed down the center of the fairway to make you forget things like that.

 

Moody: 919-829-4806 or amoody@newsobserver.com

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